I don't know whether to giggle or roll my eyes. I can do both, I suppose, but mostly I'll keep posting my crabby opinions just like I always have. I've said before I think that the point at which most bloggers have gone off the rails is in their desire to belong and "build community". Comments (and praise) are addictive and I'd be a bullshitter beyond belief to claim that seeing my visitation stats go from a handful of clicks a day to thousands hasn't affected what I write, or that my ego doesn't go pitter-pat when someone in the comments says how wonderful I am. There's safety in numbers, after all. I've watched too many otherwise reasonable people become raving morons on their blogs, and the common thread to all of it appears to be CDS. It's something that gets you instant praise from hundreds of commenters, it makes you seem very hip and anti-establishment to sneer at the failings of the Clintons, and it puts you in a very chummy circle. It's a lazy way to look radical without actually doing anything, kind of like hanging out with opportunistic bullshit artists in an exclusive little enclave in Chicago and think you're doing something daring. The great irony, of course, is that the leading lights of Left Blogistan whose great moral claim is that they stand in opposition to the media whores of the MSM have done little for the last six months except regurgitate the central anti-Democratic meme promulgated by the MSM, that we must band together to destroy the evil Clintons. It would be amusing were it not so self-defeating.
Krugman encapsulates the entire phenomemon in the dry opening sentence of his most recent column:
It is, in a way, almost appropriate that the final days of the struggle for the Democratic nomination have been marked by yet another fake Clinton scandal — the latest in a long line that goes all the way back to Whitewater.All the way back to Whitewater. I'm not sure the Republicans understood at the time what paydirt they had hit with the demonization of the Clintons and the way in which the fake scandals churned out by the Rightwing Noise Machine would explode right along the fault lines in the Democratic Party, but they certainly do now. History, race and class have combined to split the party into two almost equally balanced constituencies, one of them dominating the party offices, the other possessing the votes to swing an election one way or the other.
Some pro-Hillary bloggers are dismayed that Krugman seems certain that Obama will be the nominee, but I think that's actually the problem he is addressing - the foolish grounds of that certainty. What he is diagnosing is not so much the horserace but the intra-party split and the way in which the present campaign does nothing to address the ways in which the Democrats' political agenda has been first derailed and then rigidly defined by the Republicans, namely, to spend their power and resources excizing a part of the party instead of reimagining it. Krugman gets to the heart of the matter:
Why does all this matter? Not for the nomination: Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House. ...
The point is that Mr. Obama may need those disgruntled Clinton supporters, lest he manage to lose in what ought to be a banner Democratic year.
So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do?
Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain. One more trumped-up scandal won’t persuade the millions of voters who stuck with Mrs. Clinton despite incessant attacks on her character that she really was evil all along. But it might incline a few more of them to stay home in November.
Nor should Obama supporters dismiss Mrs. Clinton’s strength as a purely Appalachian phenomenon, with the implication that Clinton voters are just a bunch of hicks.
The problem is not that Obama is the nominee. On this point, I'm actually in agreement with Krugman. That single fact, in and of itself, even allowing for the weakness of Obama's stated policy positions, is not the problem. Hillary herself will tell you that when you enter an electoral contest, you risk loss. The problem lies in the manner of the "win". One that leads to defeat in November cannot be considered successful, which is Hillary's own argument.
I'm pretty sure that a number of people in Left Blogistan are heaving a sigh of relief that Paul Krugman is finally "on board" and "accepting the inevitable" (discounting those going into apoplectic seizures at his advocation of Hillary as the VP choice), but they are not reading carefully. There is nothing in the tone or the topic of this column that "accepts" the outcome of the campaign. Instead, Krugman very succinctly lays out the electoral problem: the incessant assaults upon the Clinton legacy are a losing bet for the Democratic Party, one that will doom yet another White House run. He states clearly that the fault does not lie on the Clinton side of the divide:
Mrs. Clinton needs to do her part: she needs to be careful not to act as a spoiler during what’s left of the primary, she needs to bow out gracefully if, as seems almost certain, Mr. Obama receives the nod, and she needs to campaign strongly for the nominee once the convention is over. She has said she’ll do that, and there’s no reason to believe that she doesn’t mean it.
(My emphasis) In short, the Obama faction cannot blame their failures on Hillary because she is doing and saying exactly what she should. If the nomination goes to Obama, she is perfectly positioned to go into campaign mode for the party. The resentment and division does not reside with her. Part of my deep respect and awe for this woman is the way in which she will not allow the Republicans or the anti-Clinton Democrats goad her into doing anything that is not in the interests of the party, and thus of the people who need what the party could offer, such as UHC. Kruman then says:
But mainly it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised — starting with his own party.
One thing to do would be to make a gesture of respect for Democrats who voted in good faith by recognizing Florida’s primary votes — which at this point wouldn’t change the outcome of the nomination fight.
The only reason I can see for Obama supporters to oppose seating Florida is that it might let Mrs. Clinton claim that she received a majority of the popular vote. But which is more important — denying Mrs. Clinton bragging rights, or possibly forfeiting the general election?
What about offering Mrs. Clinton the vice presidency? If I were Mr. Obama, I’d do it. Adding Mrs. Clinton to the ticket — or at least making the offer — might help heal the wounds of an ugly primary fight.
Again, I recognize that this statement may be too much for the pro-Hillary wing to accept, but there is a lot loaded into these seemingly simple words. He's put forward two actions that are anathema to the anti-Clinton Left.
Seating Florida as is means acknowledging the legitimacy of Hillary's support. That is an article of faith among the Obamacans, that she is nothing but a monster, that no one really supports her, that she is so wildly unpopular that she can't win. Except, of course, to any rational person, she's a great public servant, millions of people adore her, she commands the unswerving loyalty of a significant part of the American public, and she's kicking the boys' collective butt in actual elections. Krugman makes clear that whether or not the delegate count will go in her favor, it is political suicide to refuse to acknowledge her popular support. More deeply, the opposition of the anti-Clinton faction in the party is what is preventing the party from capitalizing on the Republican failures from Bush I forward.
To acknowledge the legitimacy of the Democratic constituency that supports Hillary would mean relinquishing the prejudices of the Stevensonian wing against the Jacksonian, something I have been discussing for the last two months. First and foremost, it means rejecting the argument that this part of our party is nothing more than bigots and racists slavering for the chance to betray us to the Republicans. It means dropping the code of "hicks" and "Applachian problems", and taking seriously the need to defend the economic interests of this constituency. (Something Hillary does with her discussion of growing a green technology sector, for example) It would mean accepting that "The South" is part of Democratic politics and is a challenge to be embraced, not an impediment to be cast aside.
Finally, I reiterate a point I've made before: Winning by denying your opponent fairly won votes rather than taking the risk of defeat to reinforce the legitimacy of your own support is a surefire way to forfeit the general election. It makes you look weak and afraid because, well, you are weak and afraid.
The second point, offering Hillary the VP slot, is a bigger step because it would mean extending power to a rival who represents what you most detest, complicated by the fact that your detestation is not even rational. Looking at the collective psychotic fantasy of Hillary as would-be assassin that is welling up from the Obamacan faction, it is equally fascinating and repellant as an image of the structure of their collective demonology. The crime that is latent within their own hearts is ascribed to another. It speaks about the way in which they see themselves and their political opponents, innocent and vulnerable victims on the one side and rapacious, murderous monsters on the other. The problem with "unity" in this campaign has always been the structure of the psychosis of the anti-Clinton faction. Their unity is grounded in a fantasy of defeating something thast simply does not exist. This is why, at base, the obsessions of this faction makes those of us more firmly based in reality (whether or not we support Hillary) look askance at the Obamacans; if their current political opponent is an "enemy", a deeply distorted projection of their own inner fears, then what boundaries can there be on their relations with other who may disagree with their opinions, goals and objectives?
To sincerely (no matter how reluctantly) offer the position of VP to the person who is equally supported by just as large a portion of the party as you are is the only way to begin bringing people back to the party rather than driving them away because they scare you. If offered, I think Hillary would take it. Why? Because she has done the long-term math and knows that she can power the ticket to victory, sweeping in an overwhelming Democratic majority in both houses, and that she would have done this for the sake of the party and her constituents. Obama can try to bottle her up in the VP office but I don't see him being very effective on that count. And that, of course, is why the offer is unlikely to be made. It would make his victory dependent on her presence and it would further legitimize her part of the party, which is the diametric opposite of what the anti-Clinton wing wants to do. They would be forever in her debt.
But, we're looking at a lady or tiger situation here, or rather a co-dependent win with the lady and a crushing defeat you will never recover from tiger. Fail to seat Hillary's supporters while their votes still count and you lose in November. Seat them and you risk losing the delegate lead and get relegated to VP. (And, yes, Hillary will make Obama her VP without batting an eye.) If you still somehow managed to squeak out the delegate count, you instantly make her VP, thereby legitimizing your biggest political opponent, or you lose in November. There's no recovery from that. Failing to give respect and power where it is due only strengthens your opponent for the next round.
The actual political battle being fought this electoral year is whether or not the Democratic Party is willing to abandon its elitist politics of resentment against its own working class core and take that part of the population back from the Republicans. That means abandoning fantasies of Whole Foods Nation and living in archipelagos of urbanity where you can be ironically detached from the events of the dirty world beyond your redoubt. It means rejecting "unity" predicated upon a purge of what frustrates you in the party coalition. It means relinquishing your dearly held fantasies of the evil demons out to get you, and accepting that you will have to compromise with others to get things done.
Obamacans need to grow the fuck up and jettison their juvenile paranoid conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, who has done nothing except run a tough campaign. As Krugman conlcudes:
the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose.
If the anti-Clinton wing persists in the politics of demonization to the detriment of the party, they will be the ones left at the station as the Republicans drive off with the majority of the voters.