Monday, June 2, 2008

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

So.... are the Clintons morons?

James Fallows writes the following about Hillary Clinton's mindset in running against Barack Obama:

The Clinton team doesn't worry about hurting Obama's prospects of winning in the fall, because they assess those prospects at zero. Always have. Obama might not win if he leads a bitterly divided party, but (in this view) he was never going to win. Not a chance. He would be smashed like an armadillo in the road by the Republican campaign machine, and he would be just about as ready as the armadillo for what was coming.
Others have made similar assessments of the Clinton mindset.

Here's my question: how objectively stupid does someone have to be to come to this conclusion? Forgetting about the candidates for a second, the current political and economic environment suggests a clear Democrat victory this November.

The economy is... let's call it uncertain. Inflation is rising. Things seem to be improving in Iraq, but the U.S. still has a large number of troops in theater five years after the start of the war, and it's still pretty damn unpopular.

Standard prediction models suggest this -- as does the (un)popularity of the incumbent President and the responses to the question about the direction of the country.

Now, if Barack Obama were to scream "F*** America!" during his acceptance speech, those figures wouldn't matter too much. But I suspect even the Clintons don't think he's that stupid. Negative attacks can drag a candidate down, but there are limits on their effectiveness. The preliminary evidence that some right-leaning media figures are relatively sympathetic to Obama. Why, therefore, would the Clintons believe that Obama has no chance of victory?

I suspect this goes back to their experiences in the nineties, when they viewed themselves as the only ones who could vanquish the GOP in political battle. They've seen every other national Democrat in the past twenty years -- Michael Dukakis, Tom Foley, Al Gore, Tom Daschle, Richard Gephardt, John Kerry -- felled by the GOP, and I suspect they think of themselves as endowed with special Republican-smiting powers.

Still, if they are thinking as Fallows and others describe, then they are even more narcissistic than I (or Todd Purdum) had previously believed.

Which is saying something.

UPDATE: Rob Farley provides a kinda sorta defense of the Clintons.

posted by Dan on 06.02.08 at 04:51 PM


Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?