Saturday, January 12, 2008

Media Misses Story: Obedwards Wins New Hampshire

OpEdNews, January 10, 2008

By Paul Rogat Loeb

As media commentators proclaim Hillary Clinton's rebirth from the ashes of defeat, they miss a critical story--Obama and Edwards won the New Hampshire primary. Add together Obama's 36 percent and Edwards's 17, and they beat Clinton's 39 percent by 14 points. And because the Democratic primaries have proportionate representation, they'll in fact come out with more combined delegates-13 to Clinton's 9. I've talked or corresponded with hundreds of supporters of both of them, pored through hundreds of blog responses, and from everything I can tell, those backing Obama or Edwards solidly pick the other as their second choice. So if only one were running, they'd be opening up an unambiguous lead. But because Clinton's two main opponents have effectively split the vote, her three-point victory over Obama has revived a campaign that seemed on the verge of meltdown just a few days ago, and left her again the media favorite.

So what are Obama and Edwards or their supporters to do about this? First, remind those covering the race that although Clinton got a split-vote plurality, most Democrats still don't prefer her as their nominee. Some serious polling could help to verify the convergences between the Obama and Edwards supporters and their shared discontents, and maybe we could encourage that.

Real political differences separate Clinton from both Edwards and Obama, and we need to at least try and get the media to talk about them. All of these candidates have their flaws and strengths-on global warming, for instance, they all have excellent plans. But John Edwards wasn't just being rhetorical when he said that both he and Obama represent voices for change, versus Clinton's embodiment of a Washington status quo joining money and power-albeit a far saner status quo than the crazed Bush version. Clinton recently held a massive fundraising dinner with homeland security lobbyists. Her chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, is CEO of a PR firm that prepped the Blackwater CEO for his recent congressional testimony, is aggressively involved in anti-union efforts, and has represented everyone from the Argentine military junta and Philip Morris to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Clinton supported an Iran vote so reckless that Jim Webb called it "Dick Cheney's fondest Pipe Dream," and did so, according to her campaign insiders, because she was covering herself for the general election. She's still not apologized for her Iraq vote, and her hoarding of scarce 2006 campaign dollars may well have cost the Democrats an even larger Congressional victory.

Those who make up the Obedwards constituencies recognize the problems with so many of Clinton's approaches and stands. That's part of what's driving them, along with a genuine passion for Obama and Edwards, and a sense, confirmed by the polls, that either of the two has a better shot at beating the leading Republicans than does Clinton. If we look just at delegates, both Iowa and New Hampshire advanced the Obedwards combined cause. But because the coverage has focused so exclusively on the Obama/Clinton match-up, they've missed that a solid majority of Democrats in both New Hampshire and Iowa rejected a candidate who a short while back was proclaiming her nomination as nearly inevitable.

If all those wary of Clinton coalesced around Obama, he'd become the odds-on favorite to become the Democratic standard-bearer. But at least for now, Edwards is staying in. I think he genuinely wants to keep raising fundamental issues about how divisions of wealth and power have damaged our democracy--and the people left behind without health care, jobs, or hope. He's also hanging in there in case his message belatedly catches fire, or both Clinton and Obama unexpectedly melt down. So at least for the moment, the Obedwards constituency may keep amassing a majority of elected delegates, while making it more difficult for Obama (or a far longer-shot Edwards) to become the clear front-runner and clinch the nomination.

There are some partial solutions, though, even with both in the race. Beyond reminding the media of their convergences, Obama and Edwards could also keep using their speeches, debates, and ads to highlight the real differences they have with Clinton and her approach, while minimizing their attacks on each other. Of course their main message needs to focus on their own strengths and visions, and the issues about which they feel passionately, but they also need to draw some clear political lines.

Edwards has begun doing this. Obama needs to do it more, and respond more forcefully to the Clinton campaign's attacks and distortions, like their misstatements of his record on Iraq and abortion choice. I think he can do this while continuing to flesh out a more specific vision of what he stands for, in stories that people can understand.

It's a tricky dance, since Hillary, Bill, and their surrogates will continue to attempt to dismiss any criticisms as "the boys" ganging up on the woman. This narrative indeed seemed to work when Clinton's tears set off a wave of sympathy and female solidarity that most likely swung New Hampshire. But so long as Obama and Edwards keep talking about real issues, and do so in a civil way, I think Hillary's complaints about being picked on will yield a diminishing return, especially if they challenge the Clinton campaign's history of highly questionable distortions.But the fundamental fault lines in this campaign are about whose interests the candidates are likely to heed, and they need to be articulated. Think back to Clinton's six years on the Wal-Mart board, during which she said nothing to protest the company's relentless union-busting and destruction of small-town businesses. Obama, meanwhile, was working as a community organizer, and then at a law firm that represented local organizers. Edwards pursued and won lawsuits on corporate malfeasance. The two of them need to highlight the links between their past history and their joint refusal to take donations from lobbyists, and their strong and early stands for fundamental campaign finance reform: Obama pushed a major bill while still in the Illinois legislature-Clinton signed on only after Common Cause ran a full-page Iowa ad. They should also challenge Clinton's argument that the way to make change is to reduce our expectations and hopes.

Obama and Edwards could also make an even more explicit alliance. Each could pledge, for instance, to nominate the other for Vice President, or publicly state that if no candidate got an absolute majority going into the Democratic convention, whichever of the two trailed would throw their support to the other. Given the rules on proportionate representation, this would allow both to keep campaigning as passionately as possible without falling into the trap of political spoiler.

This last might be particularly attractive to Edwards, since otherwise, those who feel he'd still be the best candidate really do face the choice between risking helping Clinton defeat Obama, or eroding their support for Edwards so much he'd have little choice but to leave the race. Edwards might not even have to make a formal pledge, but just to keep reminding voters--and the media--that if no candidate gets an absolute majority before the convention, he'd encourage his delegates and those of Obama to join together at that point. The approach is probably less likely for Obama, because he still has a major shot without it, but he might consider it if the votes continue to divide and we end up with gridlock.

Most likely, all three candidates are going to stay in the race, at least for a while. Even if Obama does not prevail outright, if he and Edwards keep gaining delegates at their current rate and can convince the uncommitted Super-Delegates to respect the will of the voters, they should go into the convention with enough combined votes for one or the other to win. The more they can keep reminding us all how much their supporters want a politics no longer ruled by money and fear, the more they'll increase their odds.

Authors Website: http://www.paulloeb.orgauthors/

Bio: Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, winner of the 2005 Nautilus Award for the best book on social change, and Soul of a Citizen See See


Anonymous said...

Why is the media hyperventilating as if Hillary has been ressurected from disaster by winning New Hampshire primary? She squeaked by with a 3% margin over Obama. Hillary @ 39% of the vote vs. Obama with 36% of the vote.

What I've never seen analyzed by the media is how Obama managed to win the Iowa primary in a conservative state which is 94% white. First the media said "a black man can't get elected president" then they switched to "Obama isn't black enough".

Reminds me of the media's blathering about Hillary being too "unlikeable" tough and cold, then she's blasted for being a cry baby and too emotional.

Bottom line - in Iowa, Hillary and Obama BOTH garnered 9 delegates for the Dem convention, so I view this as a tie - not a victory for Hillary.

The only thing about the New Hampshire primary I enjoyed was watching corporate media embarrassely apologize for being such fuckwits, totally inept at their polling predictions and forecasting. Remember when they said Obama would get 70% of the vote and leave Hillary bleeding?

I watched that clip 3 times with Hillary allegedly breaking down with emotion. Not only did she not tear up, she didn't shed a tear. For a brief moment, her voice wavered slightly, then she was completely composed.

All this says is a commentary on the overt sexism in our culture. For years Hillary has been blasted as being cold as ice, not emotional enough and too "butch" ballsy - she has been blasted for being too muscular in her personality (i.e. strong and formidable). Now she shows some glimmer of emotion and she's hammered for being a hormonally driven, emotional female who can't control herself. Remember a few months ago when that harpy Maureen O'Dowd blasted Hillary for "dressing to sexy". Hillary wore a matronly blouse with a slight "V" neckline - suddenly she was a sexpot Pamela Anderson of politics!

Neither Iowa nor New Hampshire are really representative of the rest of the nation. Both are states with lower populations and rural. The media needs to relax and wait until some states with big populations and urban areas have primaries. That will give us an idea of who really is the front runner.

Oh yeah, remember about 6 months ago when the nation was told by the media they already decided the only viable candidates were Rudy Guilani and Hillary Clinton - that the convention nominations were a done deal?

Why even bother to have primaries and elections, when the media can decide for us who our next president will be.

Rudy Guiliani's campaign has imploded. He didn't even campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. He's too busy doing damage control on the scandal that he used NY taxpayer funds to pay for illicit adulterous vacations with his mistress - billing hotel rooms, transportation to the city so he could shag his mistress?

6 months ago the media was convinced Rudy would be our next president.

One more reason I rarely watch corporate news programming. It's descended into tabloid infotainment.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Paul Rogat Loeb and thank him for his article "Media Misses Story", especially all those links - in particular the MARK PENN link. Once again, Paul Loeb's piece - "Media Misses Story" - points out the reality that the media misses the story... and will probably continue to miss stories. Paul Loeb unearths some facts about who dishes out to the media- the crap we are all supposed to accept as "reality" about Hillary Clinton ....when, in reality, there is only ONE context in which that information comes to us ....a CORPORATE context. Our media is controlled by corporations whose values are questionable. John Edwards is trying to point out a few such facts.... and Obama is a really good speech maker. I sincerely hope that Edwards/Obama or Obama/Edwards will be the Democratic ticket. I would be very willing to devote all my energy to working for such a ticket. Hillary Clinton's top strategist is MARK PENN.... Thanks to Paul Loeb's piece and the link to MARK PENN, one can pull back the covers on Hillary Clinton. I hope women will not be so enthralled by the prospect of voting for "the 1st Woman President" that they lose sight of the fact that Hillary has yet to acknowledge her vote for the Iraq war and has consitently voted to keep funding this illegal war in which our tax dollars have murdered thousands of innocent people for no good reason. Hillary Clinton does not represent CHANGE.... She is "managed" by the same-old crowd... of which public relations strategist MARK PENN is a tireless captain. I sincerely hope that we do not have to go through another debacle like we did with the Kerry/Edwards ticket.... Hopefully, an Obama/Edwards or Edwards/Obama ticket will emerge.... because the reality is.... Hillary Clinton's oath of loyalty to MARK PENN and his ilk and entourage will mean that she will never be able to sever those ties to the "MARK PENN" value system... which means, that a vote for Hillary Clinton is NOT A VOTE FOR CHANGE AT ALL!!! The "CHANGE" mantra comes from the voices of tired and hungry union members and their families who met in Soldier Field in CHICAGO last year...and asked the candidates to spell out exactly how they would CHANGE the direction of our nation. How can Hillary Clinton CHANGE anything when she herself has consistently voted step by step taking us in the very direction - that now- enough of us will hopefully vote to change? In blatant violation of International Law, she voted for the invasion of another country that had no weapons of mass destruction and she voted for the slaughter of all those innocent people. Why? For what?..... Probably because some public relations handler(like MARK PENN??) of our current White House administration was so successfull in a public relations strategy to send Colin Powell to speak to the United Nations.... and the rest is .... as they say .... History.

Lets vote for a a candidate who is not loyal to the "same old corporate value system"...Lets vote for a candidate who can really realistically change the direction of our policies ....Lets NOT vote in another candidate whose top strategist/public relations captain has told them "Keep talking about change" in order to get into the White House - yet - will never be able to change anything.

Anonymous said...

"from everything I can tell, those backing Obama or Edwards solidly pick the other as their second choice. So if only one were running, they'd be opening up an unambiguous lead ..."
Well, the apparent hanky-panky in New Hampshire makes it all a little academic, but . . .

I'm a John Edwards supporter, and Obama is NOT my "second choice". My second choice is to write in Edwards in the General Election. If Edwards isn't the nominee, I urge EVERYONE to do this.

John Edwards, among other things, is able to shred the Clintons BACK (if you ignore the fact that Clinton, as a former President, can -- and does -- commandeer the networks whenever he wants to, in support of his spousal stand-in).

If OBAMA comes back at the Clintons, though, he will lose his Nice Near-Negro status, and get shredded with old dope stories, old sex stories, stories about his church, whatever.

If they're going to fix the primaries some more, it hardly matters. I think Obama should lead his supporters to support EDWARDS. If Obama were VP, he'd be in line, and it would tend to keep the right from assassinating Edwards.

When the left splits, the right (the Clintons, in this case) wins. It's just that simple.

Obama's obvious short-comings, should HE become the nominee, will re-elect the Republicans. That's just what the right-wing Dems WANT, I believe: they don't have the ideas or the backbone to lead while fighting the right, but they like being in the Senate and all that, and viewing things with alarm on teevee.

John Edwards DOES have the guts, the brains, and the background.

NObama, folks.

@T /

Unknown said...

Although I love Edwards and I truly want him to become our next president, I don't think he has a chance. Any candidate that dares say "corporate greed" or anything bad about the powerful corporations in America deserves applause. It's daring. I wish Obama can do the same. An Obama/Edwards ticket is what this country needs right now. I want to make absolutely sure that "Hill-dogg" doesn't win in CA. Therefore, i may have to vote for Obama come February 2nd. Don't forget the important propositions on election day. NO on Props. 94-97!! And YES on making community colleges affordable again!!

Anonymous said...

Here's a comment from elsewhere, signed by zrarieh:

"The only election where the Clintons managed to eke a 2-point victory and 0 delegate advantage is highly questionable. In a caucus (Iowa) that could not be rigged, they tried to disenfranchise students and failed. In another caucus (Nevada) that cannot be rigged, they're trying to disenfranchise casino workers by changing the rule of the game in the middle of the game and by pitting blacks against Hispanics."

Anonymous said...

Considering how wrong the pollsters were about New Hampshire, I don't buy this nosecounting argument. If anything, there's been a whole lot
of switching around through the recent noise making, with not much
reliable support for anyone.

But if you're counting, score me as one voter who supports Edwards and distrusts Obama, who's all bang and no bullet. He's great at
speechifying and weak on specifics. His so-called healthcare plan looks like a gift to the insurance companies, and if he wants to bring all Americans together, does he include the American Nazi Party and
the KKK? If anything, he proves that hot air lifts all balloons.

Maybe what gets to me is the character of his supporters, as far as we've seen. Some months ago the ABC broadcast network picked up a Chicago Sun-Times story of how a Chicago slumlord virtually bribed Obama, then a state senator, with a choice piece of property for a token price. The slumlord, meanwhile, neglected to fix the furnaces in his tenements, leaving his tenants, mainly low-income minorities, to shiver through a Chicago winter.

When my wife and I alerted local Democrats to the story, the Obamites immediately attacked us--and Edwards, whom we backed! ABC had offered Obama a generous space on its web site to defend himself, which he accepted. I had hoped his backers would check out the details, especially what he'd said in his own defence. But not one of them was interested in addressing the case itself. Apparently our Obamites, or many of them at least, function on the same mental plane as followers of Hitler and Mussolini. Or current deniers of the Holocaust.

We were shocked at the reaction. Naively, we had hoped our Obamites
would see the story's potential for a future Swift Boat attack and
prepare themselves with solid counter arguments.

So if it comes down to Obama vs. Hillary, we'll take Hillary in a
-- Dave