Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hillary's Win

Not having any special insight into the minds of new Hampshire Democrats Politaholic expected Barach Obama to win the primary since that is what the opinion polls indicated. But, astonishingly, Hillary Clinton pulled off a "comeback" even more impressive than that of Bill in 1992 (who only finished second in New Hampshire). What happened? Several explanations are being advanced: (i) Skipper puts it down to the Clinton machine's better organisation in "getting out the vote", (ii) an article in the Guardian suggested the "Bradley effect" (white voters say they will vote for a black candidate when polled, but when they actually vote decline to do so: it goes back to the 1982 campaign by Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles, who sought the Democratic nomination for Governor of California; the polls showed him ahead, but he narrowly lost); (iii) some are putting it down to what is best described as her "emotional" coffee shop perfomance (she did not in fact blub) - and this explanation may be supported by the greater proportion of women voting for Hillary. There is probably some truth in all of this. There is also the possibility that the tendency of New Hampshire voters to thumb their noses at Iowa played a small part. But I think there is another factor as well. Obama seems to me to have been getting an extraordinary easy ride. It seems to me that the Republicans would very much like to see Obama defeat Hillary. Why? Because although he can win the Democratic nomination he cannot, in my view, win the Presidency. In my view white America will not vote for a black President, even one who is "whiter-than-white". Racism is still an open sore in American society; Obama cannot simply spirit it away with his "charisma". What's more, in a Presidential campaign his inexperience - only four years in the Senate - would be relentlessly focused upon. Third, the conservative media and the Republican machine - currently rather benign towards Obama - would turn nasty. It would be a dirty election. I think many Democrats realise this; they realise that they have to pick a candidate who has a chance of winning in November, and although Hillary is also a divisive figure, who is hated beyond measure by the conservatives (by the sort of people who think women should stay at home and bake cookies), she would have a far better chance in November than Obama. Another point is that in the coffee-shop performance she reminded Democrats of something: her long-standing committment to the party. Obama - the "celebrity" candidate - is a blow-in by comparison. Hillary is not just "Bill's wife" (although there was a rather stupid article in the Guardian this week suggesting just that): she is a very serious, substantial political figure. There is no doubt she is flawed individual, who has trimmed her sails more than once over Iraq and much else. But in terms of American mainstream politics - and certainly in terms of those with any chance of winning the Presidency - she is as liberal as it gets.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the only blog I can be arsed to read (SO much shite out there) and it's articles like this that keep me coming back for more. Keep up the good work Mr. Politaholic!

9:29 pm  
Blogger skipper said...

I agree America is not ready to elect a black man just yet, though Obama will be the closest candidate for a long while to even make it seem a possibility. Seeing Jesse jackson in Channel 4 News last night made me realise how superior Obama is as a politician and how he's devised a new way of projecting a black poersona to the USA. But I fear it's not enough and his substance seems as fragile as that of dave Cameron, so I'd still go for Hillary as the best bet...

1:42 pm  

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