Archive for the '2008 presidential elections' Category

Hillary’s electability argument

March 13, 2008

Obama supporters are misrepresenting Hillary’s electability argument. The argument isn’t that Hillary has more chances in November because she has won the bigger prizes such as New York, California, and Texas; while Obama’s victories are mostly in small Republican states. The point about Hillary’s big-state wins against Obama’s small-state wins is that even though Obama has more pledged delegates, Hillary’s fewer delegates come from more significant battlegrounds (even though obviously Hillary’s camp can’t make the point as plainly as that, otherwise they are going to offend an awful lot of folk).

Hillary’s electability argument is, rather, that she has better chances in those states that will decide the November general election against McCain. And there is plenty of evidence that Hillary has better chances in four such major swing states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey.

There are two main ways to compare two candidates’ November chances in a particular state: how the candidates did in that state’s primary election; and what the general elections’ polls for that state say. Hillary has won the Ohio primary; she has won the New Jersey primary; she has won the Florida primary (even though it didn’t count); and she is predicted to win the Pennsylvania primary on April 22nd.

Furthermore, according to the RCP poll averages, Hillary has a better chance than Obama of beating McCain in each of those four states come November:

Ohio, Hillary vs. McCain & Obama vs. McCain;

Pennsylvania, Hillary vs. McCain & Obama vs. McCain;

Florida, Hillary vs. McCain & Obama vs. McCain;

New Jersey, Hillary vs. McCain & Obama vs. McCain.

So Hillary’s electability argument looks pretty strong.

Advertisements

Obama ads on Politico.com

February 18, 2008

obamaonpolitico21.jpg

obamaonpolitico31.jpg

I’m not sure this should be allowed: both Obama ads are displayed alongside pieces on Sen. Obama himself and his opponent, Sen. Clinton.

The Superdelegates Argument

February 14, 2008

Whatever happens between now and April 22nd, the Democratic Presidential Primaries will be decided by superdelegates. There is no plausible scenario in which either candidate can get 2,025 pledged delegates, apart from the one in which one of them drops out pretty soon. Therefore the question of what are the grounds on which a superdelegate should choose which candidate to support is paramount.

Obama and Hillary have different answers to that question: according to Obama’s camp, superdelegates should not overturn ‘the will of the people’; and since the ‘will of the people’ is supposed to be expressed by the number of pledged delegates, Obama’s camp has it that superdelegates should support the candidate who’s got more pledged delegates (this argument is put forward in detail in a new website, Obama Is Winning).

Hillary’s camp argues, on the other hand, that superdelegates can choose according to criteria other than just who’s got the more pledged delegates: things like who they consider the better candidates, who better represents their own views, who they consider to have better chances against the Republican nominee, and so on.

The striking difference between Obama’s argument and Hillary’s is that, according to Obama, superdelegates shouldn’t be there in the first place. If they ought to vote for the candidate with the most pledged delegates because they mustn’t overturn ‘the will of the people’, then quite obviously they would best achieve that by not being at the convention in the first place. Indeed, if there is any point in distinguishing between pledged delegates and unpledged delegates (superdelegates), and in seating them both at the convention, then superdelegates must be able to vote on grounds other than those proposed by Obama’s camp. Their argument, then, is pretty simple: the whole selection system must be changed, superdelegates are a bad idea – let the nominee be chosen only by people who actually vote at primaries and caucuses across the country.

It is quite obvious why this is a troublesome argument: Obama’s camp is saying that the electoral rules – by including superdelegates – don’t fairly represent ‘the will of the people’. But this is the same electoral rules that Obama accepted when joining the Presidential race. So the basic problem for Obama, apart from the merits of the electoral system, is that he is now wanting to change the rules halfway through the game.

But what about the merits of such mixed system? It is difficult to argue, as Obama’s people are trying to do, that it is undemocratic. I cannot think of any liberal democracy that has a purely proportional system: I am thinking of Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, to mention but a few. The US Senate itself, of which Senator Obama is a member, isn’t purely proportional – Rhode Island and California having the same number of representatives. And almost no one, in Britain, wishes for a completely elected House of Lords.

So one need not even appeal to the otherwise important fact that most unpledged delegates are nonetheless elected representatives to argue for the need to balance proportional representation: every liberal democracy I can think of – including the US – already accepts that.  There are, then, plenty of good reasons to think that unpledged delegates should continue to participate in the election of the nominee. But those reasons aren’t even necessary: it is sufficient that those were the rules when Obama joined the race.

I have a dream (ticket). Do I? I do, don’t I? I think I do, anyway…

February 1, 2008

What if Hillary and Obama made the following deal: whoever ends up with more delegates come February the 6th will be the Presidential nominee. The other one gets to run as their VP.

Not bad, eh? Here’s a few advantages:

– both would get to run for the White House no matter what;

– the Democratic Party’s unity would be preserved and recent tensions, which are threatening the party’s chances to win in November, would be soon forgotten;

– we would get possibly the most revolutionary presidential ticket, at least from a symbolic point of view, in modern times (and than would probably scare Nader off)

One issue would be that while Obama can easily be imagined as HRC’s VP, the opposite is hard to think of (maybe ’cause of Bill?). But then again the most likely scenario’s still Hillary getting the nomination, and she could do much, much worse than choosing Obama as VP.

On the other hand, this arrangement would probably penalize the candidate who has the best chances in the states that vote after SuperTuesday, since however things go then, neither candidate will probably end up with a sufficient number of delegates already on the morning of the 6th.

Why Teddy’s endorsement is NOT good news for Obama

January 28, 2008

The reasons why Teddy’s endorsement‘s good news for Obama are plenty and obvious. So let’s focus on how Teddy might possibly damage Obama – in no fewer than four ways, actually:

divisive: it has often been said of Hillary that she is the most divisive (yes, that includes Rudy) candidate. And so far that argument has been available to Obama, especially so that he could claim that Hillary would be a liability to the Democratic Party in November. But now that Obama has joined forces with the Kennedys, he can hardly say with a straight face that Hillary is divisive. People will sing ‘Bridge over troubled water’ back at him (if they are in a good mood, that is)

new: so far Obama has easily been the ‘new’ candidate, and the self-branded candidate of ‘change’. You don’t need to work very hard at it if you are running against Hillary CLINTON. But if all of a sudden the whole Kennedy family is on your side, then you will find yourself smelling of ’60s hair gel. Yes, you are now ‘big’ news; but it’s suddenly ‘old’ news too.

the left: somehow, Obama has so far managed to hold on, at the same time, to his inclusive message of cooperation with the Republicans, and to his status as to the left of Clinton (which means, for example, Edwards’ votes if that scumbag drops out or his delegates if he doesn’t). But now that he’s got the Kennedys on his side, a lot of the left will have to admit to his belonging to the establishment. Yes, Kennedy means ‘liberal’ – but does it mean ‘left’? I mean JFK and ‘left’ in the same sentence?

overshadowed: the way in which Hillary risks being overshadowed by Bill, Obama now might have to leave much of the spotlight to Teddy for the next few days (and SuperTuesday is just around the corner, a week away). Obama breaths spotlight. Without it, he no longer is. Watch out, Barack Hussein.

Kennedys vs. Clintons

January 28, 2008

Could the Democratic contest get any more interesting than Obama trashing Hillary in South Carolina? It just did: the Kennedys – JFK’s daughter Caroline and, more importantly, Teddy – are endorsing Obama. Do you want to know why? Obviously because the Clintons represent the only political force in America which is capable of replacing the Kennedys themselves. So Teddy&Co. will be, as always, fighting for themselves – forget Obama. But at least now Hill&Bill have a real opposition. And that gives a new groundbreaking theme to the contest: will the American left finally rid itself of its most teary and tiresome legacy (based, mainly, on the disturbing, and very American, power of victimhood)? And will it be able to do that only at the price of acquiring a new one?

p.s. personal anecdote for Europeans who want to understand the K. factor. Only once in my life I witnessed a student cry at a University lecture (or maybe I should say: only once I witnessed a student crying for something other than marks): it was at UC Santa Cruz, and the youngish lefty Prof. was doing some JFK bashing, when this sweet overweight girl couldn’t take any more of it, and actually started crying.

p.s.s. this is also very funny

On Why We Must Elect A Wife: President Rodham

January 9, 2008

The latest criticism against HRC is that she is, in comparison with Edwards and Obama, the establishment candidate. She has been there, she has done it all before (they have turned her ‘experience’ argument against her). America’s still the same; it hasn’t changed. So she won’t be able to change it in virtue of not having changed it so far. This charge is, obviously, the result of Hillary being Bill’s wife. She is history, because she belongs to Bill’s ‘90s in virtue of having been the first lady. So while the problem does not seem to be her being a woman, it still is her being a wife; the last Democratic President’s wife. It would have been different, those people criticizing her will concede, if she had been any other woman; if she only weren’t Bill’s wife, then she could have been elected despite her being a woman.

So America, according to these people, would be ready for a woman; but only for a new woman. It’s not ready for an old woman, a wife. Let’s get this right: the problem is obviously not, in itself, that Hillary is married: had she been married to someone else, she could have still been a new woman, a woman for change. Because, as far as politics would have been concerned, she then would not have been a wife. The problem is that she is married to the past. So Hillary isn’t just married – that would have been fine. She is politically married: she is a political wife, not just a wife. Worse: the implicit accusation is that she is only there – in it with a chance – because she is Bill’s wife.

So far, this is all very truistic. But it underestimates the gender – and therefore power – revolution represented by a woman in charge of the world. What would it mean? Why would it be so significant? Because it would be the ultimate liberation: the woman liberation movement will have finally completed its journey only when a woman will have taken the world’s top job. No woman will ever be fully liberated until it is demonstrated that a woman can take (and hold) the top job. That, and only that, will be mission accomplished for the woman liberation movement, and aging feminists will finally be able to go back to knitting.

But where did that journey of liberation began? It began with marriage: it began with making marriage an equal, consensual, free relationship (as free as love allows, that is). The journey began with liberating wives from their husbands. It has been wives who have always symbolized the exploited woman. Wives bending on the sink to wash dishes. Wives bending on their children to tie their shoelaces. Wives bending for their husbands. It is first and foremost through marriage that women have been exploited: so the exploited woman just is the wife.

And that’s why liberation will be complete only when we elect a wife. But, as we said, electing any wife will be, politically, just like electing a woman. We must elect someone who is a wife even from a political point of view; we must elect HRC. So that she can finally, as President, shed that ‘C’ and be just her own autonomous self: President Rodham. Only when we will have liberated the first lady from the President we will have achieved the full liberation of women, of all women (at least potentially). Electing any other wife would be electing a liberated woman. It is only by electing the wife that we will have achieved liberation; because, paradoxically, Hillary (being, necessarily, one of the most liberated women on earth) isn’t yet liberated because she has not yet been liberated from her husband, the President. It is only by becoming President herself – President Rodham, not President Clinton – that she will finally liberate herself.

That’s why, if the election of the first woman president must be the ultimate liberation, then we must elect the wife, the first lady. Once the fist lady liberates herself, then any woman can.

Obama does not understand separation of powers

December 17, 2007

Illinois Senator Barack Obama appears to be ignorant of one of the most basic political principles of representative democracy, separation of powers. The New York Times reports Sen. Obama as saying that “I’ve been involved in government for over a decade”. Sen. Obama has been an Illinois State Senator from 1997 to 2004, when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. What that amounts to is a decade of experience in the legislative power; but not in government, which belongs to the executive power. One would hope that Sen. Obama was not suggesting that the Illinois State Senate is part of the government of Illinois; similarly, one would hope that he was not suggesting that the U.S. Senate is part of the Government of the United States. Because otherwise Sen. Obama would be implying that the political system in the United States violates the basic democratic principle of separation of powers. We must therefore conclude that Obama does not understand separation of powers. Montesquieu would not have been impressed; we are not impressed.

Hillary or not Hillary

May 18, 2007

The Economist says Hillary, while WC gives us 14 reasons not to vote for her.

Brown vs McDonnell

May 14, 2007

Brown got what he wanted (or, anyway, what he should have wanted): a contender who cannot win, John McDonnell. This is a much better outcome than no contender at all, which would have looked bad and it would have reduced Brown’s and Labour’s chances at the next general elections even further. It is also better than a Blairite contender with a chance, namely Miliband. Even if Brown would have defeated Miliband, which is probable, that kind of contest might have weakened New Labour; and, in the attempt to distance himself from Miliband, Brown would have probably lost a lot of the votes that will decide the next election. The only outcome which would have probably been better for Brown than McDonnell would have been an unelectable Blairite like Reid – who was wise enough to desist from his heroic journey of self-sacrifice.

McDonnell’s good for Brown: he will provide the Chancellor with a platform to discuss Iraq, and, if Brown cares to, that will be a chance to distance himself from Blair’s foreign policy. But Brown might discover that the only meaningful way to counter McDonnell’s anti-war rhetoric is to stick with Blair’s legacy of liberal interventionism: that would, indeed, be an interesting development. Otherwise Brown might end up in the kind of middle-ground trouble that Hillary’s in across the pond for not apologising over voting for the war.

Also, while the parliamentary vote is quite obvious, and the unions’ vote can be expected, it’ll be important to see how the popular vote goes: if McDonnell doesn’t do better there than in the parliamentary vote, then a lot of the anti-NewLabour rhetoric will have to go. There has been a lot of talk of New Labour losing votes on the left (the SNP in Scotland could be an example): this is a good time to verify that theory.

It might be objected that the kind of votes that New Labour has lost on the left aren’t votes of Labour Party activists and members. But that’s not how it is often put: people tend to say that, in the pursuit of Middle England, Labour has alienated some of its core vote. If none of that goes to McDonnell, then either New Labour has actually interpreted its core vote better than most commentators, or it has alienated it so much that people have left the party altogether.

UPDATE: it looks as though we should have waited before commenting on McDonnell’s challenge to Brown. The left-winger is still 18 (some say 16) nominations short of the required 45. He’s got until tomorrow noon.