Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday Eve (a/k/a Monday)
New York is in some sense--a political sense, I guess--Hillary Clinton's home state, and all the polls agree she's going to win here. But in the subways, on the street corners, and even on TV, all the energy and momentum seems to be with Obama. I've gotten recorded message calls from our moronic Congresswoman, Yvette Clarke (herself a scion of a local corrupt political dynasty, so it makes sense), and Hillary Clinton Herself. But that's about the only pro-Clinton activity I've seen, less a bumper sticker here and there.

The polls are all over the map. Zogby seems to have the most favorable numbers for Obama; my recollection is that as pollsters go, Zogby su-hucks. Yet he also seems to have the momentum nationally. A win in California tomorrow night potentially could be decisive, as it would drive the narrative and hurl Obama into a rest-of-the-month schedule that would seem to favor him, with primaries in states with large numbers of African-American voters like Maryland and Virginia, and solid red states like Nebraska where the local Democratic establishment dreads running with (or rather, from) Clinton in the fall. On the other hand, if Clinton wins California by ten points or more, she's in great shape to take the large bulk of delegate and minimize the damage that can be done through the rest of February, with the reasonable expectation that she'll essentially lock things up in a month's time with big wins in Ohio and Texas.

This horse race stuff isn't really what's on my mind tonight, though. At last week's Democratic debate, and in the weekend blab fest coverage, the biggest applause line and most compelling notion was of a combined Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton "dream ticket." Both candidates seemed to indulge the notion, though most expert opinion (and mine, for whatever that's worth) is that it'll never happen. If Clinton wins, she probably wouldn't want to bring in Obama who might upstage her, though she'd have to consider making the offer just in hopes of retaining his enthusiastic Democratic-leaning new voters. For his part, though, I doubt he'd take it; Obama either will return to the Senate or run for governor of Illinois, and in any event I doubt he'd want to risk being marginalized by both Clintons in a surely ceremonial vice-presidential role. Were Obama to win, I don't think he'd gain anything by asking Clinton; she wouldn't help win any states, and while her "experience" impresses some, were Obama to go that route he'd be better served tapping someone like Joe Biden or Tom Daschle. Even if he wants to go for the "double history" of a female running mate, Arizona Governor Napolitano, Kansas Governor Sebelius or Missouri Senator McCaskill (all supporters of his) offer more political value than Clinton.

I think the excitement over the "dream ticket" comes from something else, though: a realization on the part of supporters in both camps that each leading Democrat offers something the other lacks. The concerns with Obama, of course, have to do with his alleged lack of experience and policy substance. I don't think either is valid, and Clinton's experience has been vastly overstated in any event. But nobody can deny that she's a policy wonk, and a grind in the best sense of the word--she works hard at governing. For her part, what she sorely lacks is inspirational power and capacity to unify the country--the great strengths of Obama's campaign. The notion seems to be that pairing the two of them up would address the shortcomings of each. Psychologically for supporters, it makes sense, but unless we've very quietly perfected mind-meld technology, the solution doesn't really match the problem.


Feral said...

I think more than longing for the potential unified power of ClintObaman, people don’t want to chose between these two candidates. They are both worthy of a shot at the Presidency, and are extremely similar on paper in terms of policy. Democrats would rather vote for either one versus, say, a Kerry. If they would just stop fighting and unite, you wouldn’t have to reveal which parent you love more… Or at least you wouldn’t feel bad about voting with your gut based on superficial criteria (not black enough, don’t like chicks, etc.), if you knew that the other guy was coming along for the ride anyway.

David said...

Yeah, I originally thought about this in the context of "don't make me choose, Mom and Dad!" and/or the usual Democratic wish for everyone to hold hands and be nice. It's really the Party of Divorced Kids, with all the ambivalence that entails.

Brian said...

In some ways I think the fierce battle provides more "free" press for the democrats and keeps them in the public eye, while the GOP elections have become more a sideshow. Eventually the saturation point will be reached, however, and people will look at the dems as bickering and nasty. I wonder if the dust will settle before then?

David said...

That's a great question, and it probably explains why both of them were at such pains to come off as "nice" the other night.

Myself, though, I'm much more sanguine about whatever happens than I was a few weeks ago. Maybe it's exhaustion with the whole deal, or maybe it's that my mind is turning back to baseball (where it would rather be anyway).