Friday, March 7, 2008

How Dumb "Does She Think We is"

by P.M. Carpenter

Probably my most cherished memory of the many talk-radio callers I've heard over the years is that of an intensely fatuous regular who asked one morning in the 1990s of Hillary Clinton (who, as I recall, had just committed some now-unremembered political sin): "How stupid does she think we is?"

That caller was always immeasurably good fun, but after the Clinton administration retired he retired as well, from the airwaves, to delight me nevermore. Yet the other night -- primary night -- his words that morning came back to me in a flash as I listened to his old bugbear, Hillary, address a victory rally in Ohio. As she spoke I found myself asking, How stupid does she think we is?

Her first brazen insult to electoral intelligence came early, loud, and wrapped in the following implausible laundry list: "You all know that if we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win the battleground states, just like Ohio. And that is what we've done. We've won Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Arkansas, California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee."

Her stately recitation reminded me of the teenager Toad in "American Graffiti" who casually added a bottle of hooch to a lengthy list of items requested at a liquor store, hoping the clerk wouldn't notice the illicit incongruity. Right, I'll have some gum, hair tonic, a pint of Jack Daniels, Florida, Michigan and a comb, please.

When you want to get away with political larceny, just act like it's nothing out of the ordinary. And sure enough, Hillary's crowd went wild in violent agreement.

Another non sequitur that Hillary even more chronically serves up is that in the primaries she alone has won the "big" states, the "important" states, such as California and New York -- states, she goes on to say, that Democrats must carry in the general if they're to have any hope. Ergo her primary victories and Obama's losses in these states, she implies, prove that she alone can win them in November.

Again, it's a kind of underhanded, bullying assumption of the electorate's stupidity -- trusting that few stop to realize how solidly blue these states are; that sure, in a contested primary some Democrat must lose, but that loser would slide home in the general as easily as the primary victor.

I don't really blame Hillary for retailing these insults to what passes for the multitudes' intelligence -- after all, 62 million of us voted for George W. Bush in 2004 -- but it does irk that the reportedly harsh and Hillary-hating media don't stop her after each and every campaign conclave and press the question: Were you honestly saying, just now, that you don't believe Obama can carry the Republican-repellent state of California? Oh, and by the way, how did Florida and Michigan primary victories in the non-competing non-primary states of Florida and Michigan get in there?

Also nonchalantly slipped by the electorate is Hillary & Co.'s screeching U-turn on the momentum vs. math superhighway. Originally the Clinton campaign insisted with businesslike solemnity that the race is all about math, not momentum. That was when they believed the math was on their side. Now, whoosh, they insist with equal solemnity and without a dram of self-aware shame that the race is actually all about momentum, not math.

Simultaneously they've tried to muddle what is, in fact, the rather straightforward matter of math. And based on the plentiful emails I've received from Clinton supporters, they've been robustly successful in their muddlement.

This really, as they say, isn't rocket science. For the inescapable basics are these: True, neither Clinton or Obama will reach the magic 2,025 delegate count by convention time. Obama, however -- barring unimaginably staggering victories by Clinton from here on out -- will still hold a plurality of those pledged delegates by convention time. Which is to say, simply, he'll go into the convention with more delegates derived from voters than Hillary. That reality is as close to an absolute certainty as absolute certainties come.

And from this further derives some rather unassailable logic -- basic democracy stuff, you know, wherein the majority rules. If, among two candidates at a nominating convention, one holds more votes popularly won than the other but is still short of a needed 2,025, it would seem, democratically speaking, that the leading candidate deserves the deciding votes cast by superdelegates. To argue otherwise -- that the second-place candidate is more deserving in a (D)emocratic forum than the first-place candidate -- is a real head-scratcher.

Appearing on "Hardball" yesterday, Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe was asked about the democratic virtue of even a single-vote majority, with Chris Matthews adeptly quoting the Democratic Party's founder, Tom Jefferson: "the majority of a single vote as [is] sacred as if unanimous." What said Terry to this democratic axiom? Not much, for he bobbed and dodged the question by trying to cite legalistic rules and technicalities as the ultimate authority. But in other, plainer words, he was saying no, the Clinton campaign gives not one whit about all that democratic fussiness stuff. He also clearly believed that if he just dispensed with it quickly enough, no one would notice.

How stupid, indeed, do they think we is?

I should like to not altogether whimsically float, however, a possible resolution to the prevailing madness that faces no end in sight, except a severely and debilitatingly divided party. And the solution, not a speech, is this: If the party is intent on abusing democracy, then it can nominate neither Clinton or Obama.

If, that is, it looks like sufficient superdelegates are about to steal the popular will by siding with Hillary, then, in league with his pledged ones in addition to as many supers as he can muster, Obama could throw his support to, say, a Senator Russ Feingold or Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky -- anybody who denied authorization for Bush's idiotic and illegal war. Joe Biden would have been an appealing natural, but, alas, he committed the same unconscionably opportunistic sin as Hillary.

Such an escape route might convince enough superdelegates to pull in the reins before careening over the divisive edge. If it's democracy denial they seek, they might as well go whole hog and at least nominate a potential unifier, and not a certain divider.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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