Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Amazing Hillary and Her Amazing Campaign

Today's conventional wisdom is that Hillary's lousy* campaign machine destroyed what was her claim to inevitability. There are, as usual with Hillary coverage, two problems with this claim. First and foremost, she never claimed that she was inevitable. It was the punditry which labeled her as the front-runner, long before even the first vote was cast. As for her campaign, well, I suppose there have been mistakes, but no other candidate has faced the obstacles Hillary has faced.

Once it became clear that Hillary had a real shot at the nomination, probably after the first debate, all the positive statements about her Senate performance, even from such Conservative slugs as Tucker Carlson, stopped. Since then, when the media, MSM and blogosphere, fell in love with Obama, press coverage has been brutally negative.

Not a single "liberal" magazine (The Nation, The New Republic, The Progressive, etc.), to my knowledge, has endorsed her. In the liberal blogosphere, all the first tier blogs (Kos, TPM, Huff, etc.) have been for Obama. This might not be all that exceptional except for the tone of the coverage. It has been brutal and almost completely personal. The language on the blogs, from owners, formal participants and commenters has been vicious. Supporters of Hillary have been slimed because they haven't accepted the divinity of Obama. The coverage by TNR, which hasn't been a liberal magazine since Nixon (but retains the sobriquet because once the media label anything or anybody, the label sticks regardless of reality), especially but not limited to its blogs, has become a cesspool of vitriol indistinguishable from all but the most disgusting comments about Hillary which have flooded the blogosphere.

We are not talking here about a reasoned evaluation of the careers of Obama and Clinton. Nobody in print or online is talking in detail about the careers of the two candidates, the votes they have cast, what they have done for their constituents, how their peers perceive their performance, to what extent they have voted in line with their major contributors, etc. No, that would require research, dull, unexciting research. And, these so-called journalists will say, it's not necessary because the facts are on their web sites. What they provide is "context", informed criticism. Bull. The coverage is little more than gossip about the two personalities in which the roles have been set in concrete: Obama is a saint and Hillary is Kali, the Destroyer.

TV coverage hasn't been any better. MSNBC has been the "Vote for Obama" network for months, led by the oleaginous Chris Matthews but including all the major pundits (Olbermann, Carlson, Scarborough, etc.) and their guest talking heads. NBC's "real" reporters, like Tim Russert, are down in the dirt with their MSNBC colleagues. CNN, ABC and CBS are not far behind.

Time and Newsweek just did cover stories on Hillary. In contrast to the glowing cover stories on Obama and his wife, most of the articles on Hillary in these issues are negative.

Yet, and this is what turned me from being neutral about Clinton (a year ago, I could easily have voted for any of the Democratic candidates except Gravel) into a supporter, Clinton has not only won the major primaries, she has done it in the face of this endless stream of abuse from all the media, and she has done it with grace, style, and humor. The contrast between her and Obama became clear after the Iowa loss and New Hampshire win. Clinton was gracious both in defeat and victory. Obama gloated and then sulked.

She is not only one smart cookie, she is one classy lady.

*according to The Clinton Rules, it is "lousy" only when she doesn't win. When she does, it is a diabolical machine that will stop at nothing in order to destroy Obama, The Chosen One.

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