Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Friday, January 25, 2008

Who Will Win the Obama/Clinton Death Match? The GOP!

 

Since this whole "Barack Obama invoked Ronald Reagan" meme started, it seems to be just getting bigger and bigger [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc. ] with no end in sight, I think maybe the public and the MSM should dig a little deeper into the story rather than merely repeat what other's might be saying. This is only my opinion, and this is not a black and white issue. I can only give my own perspective on this.

Let me also say that though I favor Obama at this time, I would have no trouble voting for Hillary Clinton or John Edwards as the Democratic presidential candidate. I do find these tactics on the Clinton's part sort of sleazy, and these tactics do nothing to endear me to their campaign. If their motive was to get gain votes by attacking Obama, then I feel that it is a foolish endeavour.

I also feel that perhaps the issue is not being looked at from all of the angles, nor is the story being repeated accurately.

For starters, despite what Hillary Clinton supporter Paul Krugman said, Barack Obama never said that Reagan "had it right." And although I can find many faults in the Reagan presidency, I think it was entirely fair for Obama to say that he was very popular with both Republicans and Democrats, which is what Obama was really talking about. He was also making a dig at Bill Clinton's presidency. (Heaven forbid that he stoop to politics during an election!)

This whole "Obama invoked Ronald Reagan" issue really hit the fan after the recent Democratic debate on CNN, where this exchange took place:

CLINTON: Now, I just -- I just want to be clear about this. In an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.

OBAMA: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...

OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that.

But you also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.

OBAMA: I didn't say they were good ones.

CLINTON: Well, you can read the context of it.

OBAMA: Well, I didn't say they were good ones.

CLINTON: Well, it certainly...

OBAMA: All right, Wolf.

CLINTON: It certainly came across in the way that it was presented, as though the Republicans had been standing up against the conventional wisdom with their ideas. I'm just reacting to the fact, yes, they did have ideas, and they were bad ideas.

OBAMA: I agree.
CNN          

So listen to exactly what Hillary Clinton is saying:

CLINTON: You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.

OBAMA: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not.

So Hillary Clinton is saying that she and her campaign are separate from whatever Bill Clinton says. Hillary Clinton is saying that Obama is not allowed to bring up what her husband says on the campaign trail, because he is not in the room, he is separate in some way. Hillary Clinton says, "I did not mention [Ronald Reagan's] name," thus saying that Obama cannot bring up the subject with her, only with Bill Clinton.

This is not a valid argument. Either Bill Clinton is part of the campaign, and is thus as accountable as his wife for statements made, or he should not be talking to the press. There is no middle ground.

Obama responds, "OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes," to which Hillary Clinton says, "Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that."

This is not a valid argument either. The only way it could be a valid argument is if Barack Obama's wife, Michelle were:

1.) Saying things about Hillary Clinton's ability to lead the nation as President of the United States to the press.

2.) If the press treated her as some kind of expert on politics, like say how an ex-President of the United States would be treated.

3.) If the press actually gave her an equal amount of time to speak about politics on the air.

The press does not even give equal time to John Edwards, a viable presidential candidate. (Or at least he was, before the press started to all but completely ignore him.) The idea that Michelle Obama is able to speak at the same table as Bill Clinton is ridiculous. The last time I saw Michelle Obama on the news was well over a month ago.

Although I would support Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate, I find her use of this kind of rhetoric rather vapid and disappointing.

This kind of mud slinging seems especially hypocritical when compared to Hillary Clinton's own comments about Ronald Reagan, which might be considered equally disturbing:

Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, issued a statement that praised the former president for his optimistic outlook.

"Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere," their statement said. CNN, via Daily Kos

The Blog Liberal Values points out this:

It appears that at the moment any mention of Ronald Reagan is a thought crime in much of the liberal blogosphere, as well as in the Clinton and Edwards camps. In reviewing the recent smears on Obama based upon misrepresenting his statement on Ronald Reagan, I noted that Hillary Clinton’s own campaign web site contains a statement in which Clinton lists Reagan among her favorite presidents. Perhaps that comes from being an old Goldwater Girl herself.
Clinton supporters now say that she only said that she included Reagan among a list of presidents whose pictures she would hang up at the White House. Even that would be far more of an act of support for Ronald Reagan than anything Barack Obama actually said. I guess at least that excuse would be better than a Clintonian discussion over what the meaning of "favorite" is.

Other bloggers debunking these attacks include Steve Benen (here and here), Daily Kos, and Matthew Yglesias. Liberal Values

And if we are going to continue to discuss what Obama said about Ronald Reagan, shouldn't we remember a few things about the man that is pushing this meme so hard on the evening news - I am speaking of course about Bill Clinton.

Remember that both Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Michael Moore feel that Bill Clinton is the best Republican president of the last century.

"Abandoning the traditional Democratic role of improving life for the working stiff, Clinton did things that Reagan and Bush could only dream of. Twelve years of a Republican in the White House couldn't make NAFTA a reality. It took Bill Clinton to push through a trade bill that guaranteed the loss of hundreds of thousands good-paying American jobs and did nothing to raise the standard of living for the Mexican worker."

"As loud as Reagan and Bush complained about lazy welfare queens, it was Bill Clinton who got Congress to eliminate the federal welfare program. And he threw in a bonus -- he INCREASED welfare for the rich in the form of tax breaks, incentives for business and overseas development."

"Ronnie & George the First never could have gotten away with this. The Democrats in Congress would have been all over them in an attempt to look like they were sticking up for 'the little guy.'" Michael Moore

OK, so who would you listen to, the guy who mentioned Ronald Reagan's popularity in a positive light, or the guy who enacted NAFTA, reduced social programs for the poor and increased welfare for the rich?

The truth is that it is not that simple an argument to make, but this "Obama invoked Ronald Reagan" meme is increasingly trying to reduce the issue into a single slice of baloney. My comparison is at least as fair as the slice of baloney I am confronted with.

Comrade Kevin also had an interesting post about the Clintons.

There is also some false material floating around the internet about what Obama actually said. This is what Obama said:

I don't want to present myself as some sort of singular figure. I think part of what's different are the times. I do think that for example the 1980 was different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

And this the false quote that is being plastered all over the internet and attributed to Obama, although he actually never said it:

"When the country was so sick of a blue state president, Carter, Reagan was able to tap into it by being 100% red-state," said Obama. "Reagan knew the electorate was so sick of a blue-state president and blue-state policies, they we're willing to go 100% red. Reagan didn't mince words. He ran on a 100% red-state message. When Reagan won with a 100% red state message, Reagan had a 100% red-state mandate. Reagan knew transformation was all about mandate. Reagan ran a clear red-issue campaign. He never reached out to blue. Reagan was able to bowl over any resistance in Congress because he had a clear 100% red-state mandate. When you have a 100% red-state mandate, no one is surprised by what you do. Reagan, therefore, was able to get all the changes he wanted. Reagan was for those reasons...transformational."

Gee, I wonder who would spread this false quote around? Hmm... I wonder...
 

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13 Comments:

At Fri Jan 25, 07:30:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

You make some valid points, and anyone who bought that last bogus quote is a fool, but I still stand by what I said. Reagan was indeed popular - part of the blame must be assigned to the American people themselves who are more willing year by year to buy into jingoistic crap - but so is carbonated soda, and neither is very good for you. ;-)

I just wish Edwards would get more face time, but that isn't going to happen. Oh well, a crappy Dem candidate will always get my vote over any Republican. Go, America, Go.

 
At Fri Jan 25, 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Nice post.

 
At Fri Jan 25, 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Jess Wundrun said...

Big league post. We'll all get to say we knew you when!

 
At Fri Jan 25, 03:32:00 PM, Blogger dguzman said...

Very good post, Dr. Zaius. You may just have my vote, especially after Dr. Monkey has taken the side of the evildoers in the Necco wars. Thank goodness you are staying true to OUR values...

I think the whole "well you said" and "well he said" way that the media has positioned this campaign has gotten completely out of control. I just wish that when the media tried to pull that crap, the other person would just say "Let's focus on the issues, okay?" But that will never happen.

 
At Fri Jan 25, 03:36:00 PM, Blogger Dean Wormer said...

Nicely said.

If I can be so bold as to explain where I think a lot of this is coming from. A good chunk of progressives, myself included, have problems with all three of the leading Democratic candidates.

Right now there's a debate taking place in the Senate over the stupid FISA bill. Dodd will probably be fillibustering the final bill and I can't for the life of me imagine a scenario where either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton join him with anything more than a tepidly worded press release in that fight. If they join him at all. That's just sad.

Time after time our elected Democratic leaders have failed us. I'm not just talking about supporting popular progressive programs. I'm talking about failing us when it comes to fighting to defend our basic constitutional rights. I'm talking about defending what it is that makes America great. When it comes to wiretapping or FISA or congressional oversight of the Executive or preventing federal judges who don't see the constitution as the ultimate law in the land from being seated the Democratic leaders have wimped out again and again.

This includes Hillary Clinton. This includes Barack Obama and we shouldn't, by any means, let John Edwards off the hook because he no longer has a seat in the senate.

Obama's Reagan comment, regardless of the context, was met with such derision by so many progressives not because it was a great sounding meme floated by the Clinton camp but rather because it played for the umpteenth million time into the recognition by progressives that the presidential candidates are going to let us down as leaders.

The problem that Obama and Clinton face with the base of the Democratic party is much bigger than the uproar over this one comment. The base doesn't trust 'em. That has EVERYTHING to do with what they do and little to do with what they say.

The moment Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton) start leading is the moment the rest of us start carping about stupid comments.

Just my .02

 
At Sat Jan 26, 12:06:00 AM, Anonymous Dee Loralei said...

Thanks for pointing this out DrZ, I'm a huge Steve Benen and CBR fan :-) The other things that have ticked me off recently was the stunt the Clinton camp pulled in NV to stop the at large polling places and staying on the Michigan ballot and now trying to get Michigan and FL delegates seated. Yes I think both states should be seated, after the first ballot, but dammit you do not change unanimously agreed upon rules mid-f*&king game! (Reminds me of why I learned to despise the Clintons. Yea and the DLCness of them also.)

Dean Wormer, take this for what it is, I am voting for Edwards on Feb 5. MLK,Jr said " the arc of history bends towards justice." Edwards was a very red state Senator with blue proclivities and he bought into the entire DLC, middle-ground meme-work when he got to the Senate. Many of his votes absolutely sucked for progressives and liberals. He's grown and changed and become more himself in the last 4 years. Clinton began as a McGovern Girl, then became a liberal feminist, then a DLC third-wayer. Obama started off all blue as a community organizer and then went all Neo-third way, and above the fray.

Who is fighting and standing up for the things I beleive in and want and need? Edwards. Who do I trust to continue his personal growth and grow in to the Presidency and in to the champion I think this country needs at this time? Edwards. I'm not guaraunteeing the man will be all that, I just tend to trust actions more than words. And I tend to trust a slow building of constancy than new proclamations.

 
At Sat Jan 26, 06:03:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Randal Graves: I agree about Edwards is being screwed by the media. I am guessing from your comment that you are equally upset about Hillary saying that Ronald Reagan was one of her favorite presidents as you are about about Obama mentioning Ronald Reagan's popularity in a positive light? A crappy Democratic candidate will always get my vote over any Republican, as well. I would vote for a lawn chair over a Republican at this point.

Splotchy: Thank you, sir!

Jess Wundrun: Unfortunately I am strictly minor league, Jess. I am a pirated indie label all the way.

dguzman: Yes, the media has had a lot to do with this. After the Republican's had a rather congenial debate, CNN and MSNBC practically had a hissy fit. Chris Matthews was really upset that nobody got into a fight with each other.

Dean Wormer: I think that a lot of what is going on in congress is about what can and can't done with the slim margin that they have, especially in the senate. It's all well and good to bring up certain issues, but if the Democrats bring them up on the floor and they can't pass because the Republicans are still in lockstep, then it actually looks like that means that the President is right or innocent in some way. You have seen it a hundred times, the Republicans block some legislation and the Republicans and the MSM says that this is evidence that Bush is innocent, that the surge is working, etc. I feel as frustrated as you do, but I am not sure that it is really as simple as an issue that can be fixed with an "effort of will," or that can be fixed by "showing leadership." The fact of the matter is, the senate cannot break a veto (60 votes) when the numbers are 51-49, and with one Democrat still out with a stroke. It's the numbers. That is at least my understanding of it, but I certainly share your frustration.

Dee Loralei: I saw the whole attempt to "change unanimously agreed upon rules" as just politics. Sure it was dirty, but Hillary is being given a run for her money with Obama. I would much prefer either Obama or Edwards as the Democratic presidential candidate.

I certainly like Edwards as a candidate. I fear that his baggage from the Kerry disaster may hold him back just as Hillary's baggage from her husband can used against her as well. Still, I would vote for any one of them if it came down to it.

 
At Sat Jan 26, 09:10:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

Oh, absolutely. The spectre of Ronnie makes me want to hurl so profoundly that I want him to be shunned at every opportunity. Discuss what worked and what didn't behind closed doors. As for your comment to Dean Wormer, I really do hope Reid holds the GOP's corn-n-bunion feet to the fire and actually make them filibuster the FISA/Save the Renewal of Patriotic Patriotism Act. But, it's Reid, so I'm sure he back-door dealing with the goopers as we speak.

 
At Sat Jan 26, 10:01:00 AM, Blogger Distributorcap said...

isnt it funny how the MSM doesnt call her Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail

it is always THE CLINTONS -- they are reinforcing the dual presidency thing

 
At Sun Jan 27, 06:20:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Randal Graves: I'm getting a little tired of Reid lately as well, and I am usually his defender. Still, check out The Gavel sometime. The house is usually up to a lot more than the newspapers are picking-and-choosing to tell you.

Distributorcap: I think that is true. After Obam's win in SC last night, maybe we will some shifting rhetoric.

 
At Sun Jan 27, 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Dean Wormer said...

deeTruth be told I'm also an Edwards supporter, it's just that I don't kid myself into pretending he'd vote differently or act differently than the other two leading candidates were he still in office.

The main reason I support Edwards is at least he's laying down some rhetoric that we can at least try and hold him to were he in the White House. The other two candidates are going to throw the party base to the wolves, no question about it.

ZaiusI understand the numbers but I think there's more to it than that. I keep going back to the FISA bill but the reality is the congress could do nothing and the FISA bill passed while the Democrats were in the minority would sunset out in a couple of months.

The problem as I see it are the Bush Dogs in the Democratic party who continue to lead the leadership around by the nose.

Because of this I don't see a possible Democratic President and a 60 vote majority in the Senate as a real victory should it come to pass. We will STILL be held hostage to conservatives. That's the reality of the numbers.

Plus don't even get me started on how poorly Reid has treated members of his caucus, especially Dodd. Legislative holds and actual fillibusters are apparently only necessary/ available to Republican Senators.

 
At Mon Jan 28, 08:41:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

People will begin to call you "Pollyanna" if you continue to have such unbridled enthusiasm for the political process, Dean Wormer.

 
At Sun Mar 02, 03:48:00 PM, Blogger JaaJoe said...

Michelle Obamma received a bugus raise of $195,052 annually after Barack Obama was elected senator. Check out this article on Michelle Obama

 

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