Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama is Throwing It All Away

Senator Clinton got hammered and hollered at when she waited four days to endorse Obama. Now it's been 10 days since her endorsement and Obama has not done the usual things nominees do to reach out to a losing opponent and their supporters. His 143-word response to her endorsement and concession was minimal, to say the least.

Why aren't they on a stage together, or in a TV ad, or at least making a joint statement? Why isn't Obama drawing her in, giving her a role, or even mentioning her? This race was a photo finish; 18 million Americans voted for her; and yet we, our concerns and our candidate are being treated like we don't count - don't even exist. And this from the guy who said he was the great uniter. (Deja vu all over again: remember when GW Bush promised to be the great uniter?)

I'm not one who thinks that Hillary has to be VP. But Obama should address the issue rather than thumbing his nose at us with his recent bizarre appointment of a chief of staff to the yet-to-be-named veep (someone Hillary was forced to fire during the campaign). If he wants to tell us he doesn’t want Hillary, he should find another way to do it than to thumb his nose at us. One suggestion: give her a different role. Is that so difficult?

Obama is starting to come off like a sore winner. It is starting to look like his attitude to Hillary supporters is "You didn't vote for me so screw you." In their recent endorsement speeches, both Gore and Edwards went out of their way to try to unite the party. Why can't Obama? Hillary said everything Obama could have wished for in her concession/endorsement speech, and then some. The ball is in his court. Other than having his campaign say that the speech was "very generous" and the 143-word press release referenced above, he has done nada. He has dropped the ball, big time.

Maybe Obama is complacent that he's ahead in the polls. But McCain has one big advantage. Obama has the younger demographic, and younger voters aren't reliable about showing up on election day. McCain has the older voters, and they're much more reliable. Everything is going the Democrat's way this year, but it's possible that the anti-Republican trend could stop at the White House.

An estimated 37% of Hillary supporters say they won't vote for Obama, and recent polls show women shifting from Obama to McCain. It's not as clear cut as saying that Obama stands for women's values better than McCain. Women, or at least Hillary supporters, tend to be very concerned about the candidate's qualifications to lead the country in a challenging time - to do things like create a new mandate for the Fed and get agreement on a new international monetary policy. I don't want more conservative justices or tax cuts, but I'm not convinced that Obama is as qualified as McCain to lead the country on the difficult pragmatic things that need to get done. I'm also concerned about Obama's policy on Iraq: the US has essentially destroyed the country, and we can't just pull out and leave it to chaos.

So don't tell me that Clinton supporters are unable to come to terms with her defeat or exhibit bitter clinginess. Edwards supporters got more attention from Obama when Edwards dropped out of the race - long, long before Edwards endorsed Obama. Clinton supporters have serious concerns - the economy, health care, misogyny, and myriad pragmatic administrative issues - and Obama is not addressing us. Instead of a trite logo on his web site saying "Welcome Clinton Supporters" with a link to sign up and donate money, why doesn't he address us on his web site - reach out, address our concerns? He could at least put a little veneer on the fact that he only wants us for our money and our votes.



Anonymous said...

What are you talking about? Obama has been reaching out. He sent out emails thanking her for her endorsement and his website has a huge picture of her saying "Thank you Senator Clinton". There's also a button saying "Welcome Hillary Supporters".

Yappa said...

I mentioned the button saying Welcome Hillary supporters (and criticized it). You have to click to see the Thank You Senator Clinton picture; it's in a list with a bunch of other things like info on the floods and links to Obama's speeches.

And sure he sent emails - to Clinton fundraisers.

I repeat: Obama has not done the usual things a candidate does to reach out to a losing candidate and their supporters.

Anonymous said...

When did you last speak to Hillary? Just wondering how you know that it is Obama who has not reached out to Hillary. Did it ever EVER occur to you that HRC is choosing to be less involved? Or that it will take time for them both to figure out what role would be best for her? Let's not forget that Hillary made it clear in her concession speech that she expects some kind of role for Bill as well. All this takes time. I have read your blog and you never give Obama ANY leeway or benefit of the doubt. You always assume the worst. Just wondering if it occurred to you that (even though you are a Canadian blogger) you continually add fuel to the anti-DEMOCRAT vote MCCAIN crap on the net? That is fine if you don't really care if there is a republican in the WH for the next 4yrs but if you don't want that to happen can you follow Hillary and simply say nice things about Solis Doyle and wish her the best in her new gig? (see politico.com Ben Smith for HRC statement).

Yappa said...

Hi anonymous at 5:06 -

Actually I'm a dual citizen, so I am working through a very difficult and personal decision about how to vote. I don't think I could vote Republican, but I might stay home.

According to an article I cite in my post, 37% of Hillary supporters say they won't vote for Obama. The best thing for the party and Obama is to talk about why - in June, not mid-November. IMO, if he doesn't make some changes he's going to lose.

Most of my post is about him not reaching out to Hillary supporters, not Hillary herself. As I have said before, I am not concerned about Senator Clinton: she can take care of herself.

I can understand your anger, and honestly, I tried to support Obama when it was clear that Hillary wouldn't win. (There's a record of it in earlier posts.) But so far I'm just not able to.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Hillary has taken a much needed vacation - you may be overreacting here.

After all, Obama took a short vacation during the race - she didn't.

Anonymous said...

Hil and Obama, together again: First joint appearance to rally her donors

Tuesday, June 17th 2008, 4:48 PM

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at a campaign stop in Grantham, Pa., in April. Next week, they'll be reunited publicly for the first time since she dropped her presidential bid.
Hillary Clinton will join Barack Obama for a joint appearance in Washington next week to persuade her donors to begin giving to the Democrats' nominee, the Daily News has learned.

It's the first known plan to bring together the victor and vanquished from the Democrat primary race and put their pledges of unity for the fall campaign into action.

Jonathan Mantz, Clinton's national finance director, sent top Clinton fundraisers an e-mail today inviting

.....it's going to happen.

Yappa said...

Well, that's good news. We'll see how it goes. But as I keep saying: the important thing is how he reaches out to her supporters.

Anonymous said...


I feel for your personal reticence on this, really I do. I too supported Clinton until the very end.

But I have to submit that I don't feel you are being objective on your (repeated) posts on this matter.

At this point, it is hard for me to understand what exactly Obama would have to do to "reach out" to her supporters in a fashion that would be meaningful enough for you. Hillary's supporters, after all, are Democrats are they not? And he is their party's nominee. Would he have to say, "Hillary should have won and is clearly the stronger candidate, but I lucked out so please, please vote for me anyway!" Would that do it? What if he publicly grovels at her feet in public? Will that be enough? Or, rather, should he launch his national campaign from a position of strength and poise - making steps to reach out to her supporters in conjunction with Hillary's wishes in a fashion they jointly agree upon. Even as a Hillary supporter, I prefer the latter. I want the Democratic party nominee to stand strong and unbowed as he heads into the Republican minefield that awaits him.

He is the nominee, and he is the Democrats standard-bearer heading into a critical election, armed with policies and philosophies that closely closely mirror Hillary's own positions (which she herself has acknowledged).

If Democratic voters, such as yourself, decide to give a de-facto vote for continued Republican rule by "opting out" of this year's critical Presidential election, then that will be a grave mistake. But it will be those citizen's own mistake, NOT Obama's - and NOT Clinton's.

I believe Obama and Clinton have both tentatively but deliberately begun to come together for the good of the party and the good of the US, after a long and hard-fought contest for the nomination.

But, at the end of the day, their supporters will have to be adults as well, and consider the greater good on their own.

I really think you should stop waiting for a perfect moment of clarity on this. There will be two major candidates on the ballot this fall. Who are you going to vote for. Or, if you sit at home, what policies are you in effect supporting?

Hillary's name won't be on that ballot, so there you go. What's it gonna be?

Yappa said...

Hi Joseph,

Nice to hear from you again.

I'm quite reconciled that Obama won and Hillary lost, and no, I don't want him to grovel.

What I expect, based on similar behavior in other campaigns, is for the winning candidate to provide leadership to integrate the losing team into his own. Now it may be that he'll eventually get off his duff, but I decided to write about this issue (again) today when I read that 37% of other ex-Hillary supporters are also having trouble moving to the Obama team.

The problem for me (and I assume at least some other ex-Hillary supporters) is that there is more to this for us than policies: there's a question of competence. I haven't made up my mind. I want to be convinced by Obama, but I'm not yet.

A symptom of Obama's lack of action on integrating the ex-Hillary supporters is the recent booing when Hillary's name was mentioned at an Obama rally. Ten days after her concession this should not have happened. We should be much more unified by now. He's the winner; he has to do it. Hillary's speech went as far as the losing candidate could go; the rest is up to Obama.

Anonymous said...

Obama was quick to chide those few in attendance who booed at the mention of Clinton, and praised her quite effectively while doing so.

I think you're ideas are good, but I still think these things take time. And I daresay he probably does not want to overstep Clinton's graciousness on the matter either. They are appearing jointly next week. Let's see how it continues to play out.

I do think many times my reactions are from your framing of your thoughts. "Obama is Throwing It All Away" doesn't seem as reflective as wanting to see him do very specific steps. So I react to that, but as you flesh out your thoughts I find myself agreeing with some aspects of them. I do enjoy seeing your take though, even if we disagree. As you know, I can be a bit strident in my opinions as well ;).

Have a good evening.

Yappa said...

Hi Joseph,

Thanks! Sometimes when I write a post that is esstentially a venting of frustration, I put "(Rant)" at the end of the title. I should have done that with this one. Maybe I need a new category, "(Impatient Rant)".