Random Observations about the Clinton-Obama battle

I’m excited for Super Tuesday. This is an exciting race. I have made some personal observations about the Democratic nomination up this point. These are just my opinions and you may disagree with them, but that’s ok. But here goes:

 1.) The Democratic primary will go way past Super Tuesday on Friday 5th. Unlike the Republican primary which is winner-take-all, the Democratic primary divides delegates proportionately. So even the second place winner in a state can win a substantial amount of delegates. I think Hillary Clinton will win the majority of delegates on Super Tuesday. Polls show her with sizeable leads in California, New York, New Jersey, and Arkansas. Those four states together have over half the available delegates on February 5th (22 states will be participating on that day). Presently, Clinton leads Obama in 20 of the 22 Super Tuesday states with the exception of Georgia and Obama’s home state of Illinois. I’m sure the polls will tighten as we get closer to Super Tuesday. So, this will put added importance on states after February 5th, including the Washington state caucus on February 9th. The race will probably go into March and April where large states like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio will have primaries with tons of delegates up for grabs.

2.) Paul Krugman writes a great piece in the New York Times about why specific policies matter. For me it’s substance over style. Barack Obama’s health care plan rejects health insurance mandates which leaves over 15 million people uninsured. That is not universal health care. We know that the Republicans will fight to keep the status quo with health care. But if a Democrat running for President can’t even propose a truly universal health care plan, then we are in trouble. If a Democrat will not lead the fight for universal health care coverage, then it will never happen. Barack Obama can give all the inspirational speeches that he wants. But it won’t change the fact that his health care plan leaves so many people uninsured. He can’t sweet talk his way out of that. Hillary Clinton may not have the same oratory and speaking skills as Obama, but at least her health care plan is truly universal and covers EVERYONE. What do everyday people need, genuine comprehensive health insurance coverage or some nice words from a speech that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Hillary Clinton has a passion for health care and covering every American, especially children. I know she will fight for this with every fiber in her body because she has a proven track record of doing so. Beyond the nice words and the fluffy rhetoric, it is the policies that really tell you where the candidates really stand on the issues. That’s why specific policies matter. We are dealing with the lives of real people. That’s why substance should matter more than style.

3.) I think Ted Kennedy’s endorsement was a good thing for Obama. I think it definitely helped to bolster his legitimacy, especially among the Democratic establishment. Ted and Caroline Kennedy annointed Obama the next John F Kennedy. That is definitely high praise, but also a high bar to live up to. There is a split in the Kennedy family as three of Bobby Kennedy’s children, including Robert Kennedy Jr have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Here is an endorsement piece written in today’s LA Times from the three Kennedy’s supporting Hillary Clinton. Ted Kennedy spoke passionately in favor of Obama. Kennedy seemed to be directing his ire on Bill Clinton in particular. Kennedy said some harsh things. I think Obama needs Kennedy because Obama seems uncomfortable playing hardball politics. He just seemed so caught off guard and so incredulous that his opponents would be critical of his record. Even John Kennedy wasn’t adverse to hardball politics and he had the Kennedy machine created by his father behind him. However, I think the media was overblowing the importance of this endorsement. I do think it’s a big deal, but I don’t think it’s Obama is gonna win any states because of Kennedy’s endorsement. I think it helps to bolster Obama’s image, but I don’t necessarily see this as translating into actual votes. But we will have to wait until Super Tuesday.

4.) I believe Bill Clinton will still have a prominent role in the next week. However, I don’t think he will be as abrasive toward Obama and he will be in specific venues. I think Bill Clinton will be out there mobilizing the Democratic base for her, especially in the Latino community where he is extremely popular. Even as a Hillary Clinton supporter, I think Bill should take a step back and let Hillary get the spotlight. Eventually, she will have to show that she can be in the spotlight on her own. Back in 2000, it wasn’t until Al Gore showed himself to be independent of Bill Clinton that he was able to take off. I think Bill will continue to play a prominent role in Hillary’s campaign as he should. He is still popular among a large majority of Americans and even more popular among the Democratic base. Polls show that Obama supporters may be angry at his tactics, but they still like Clinton personally and would support him for a third term if allowed.

5.) Super Tuesday will allow Latinos to play a huge role. California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona have large Latino populations. Polls show Latinos overwhelmingly supporting Clinton over Obama. In Nevada, where there is a substantial Latino population, Clinton won the Latino vote over Obama by 40%. Much was made up about Obama receiving the endorsement of the Culinary Union in Nevada. However, a large portion of their Latino members decided to break ranks with their union leadership and voted for Hillary Clinton. Richard Chavez, the son of legendary Latino union leader, Cesar Chavez, has endorsed Clinton. Cesar Chavez’s union, the United Farm Workers have also endorsed Clinton. She has strong support in the Latino community. Some pundits have tried to explain this disproportionate support for Clinton as a result of an ongoing black-brown dispute between African Americans and Latinos. According to some, Latinos will not Obama because he is African American. Even though there may be some validity to that in the margins, I believe the large reason for Latino support for Clinton is name recognition and the popularity of Bill Clinton among Latinos. Hillary Clinton has also been involved in the Latino labor movement nationally and has created good will in that community. Obama may have done things in Illinois, but he does not have the reputation in the Latino community that Clinton does. Some say that Ted Kennedy’s endorsement might sway some Latinos toward Obama. However, to me who would have more sway in the Latino community? Ted Kennedy or Richard Chavez, the son of Cesar Chavez? So it will be interesting to see how Latinos influence Super Tuesday.

6.) It will be interesting to see where the Asian American vote goes in Super Tuesday states like California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois which have larger Asian American populations. With the whole controversy with 80-20, as Obama has refused to sign onto their demands, they are trying to mobilize Asian Americans voters to vote for Hillary Clinton (check my previous posts if you want more info). Their goal is to mobilize 80% of Asian American voters to vote for Clinton. So it will be interesting to see if they manage to pull that off. Obama’s refusal to sign onto 80-20’s demands has created much controversy in the Asian American community.

7.) I believe the media is pro-Obama. Lee Cowan, NBC reporter who is assigned to cover Barack Obama, admitted that it was hard for him to be objective about Obama because he’s enamored with him. Brian Williams, the NBC nightly news anchor, also inferred his favoritism toward Obama. When Clinton lost Iowa, the media went wild. They ordained Obama as the new king and wrote Hillary Clinton’s obituary. The media was piling on her in New Hampshire and eagerly waiting for her to lose again. There was so much coverage on the Clinton campaign falling apart and how Clinton was done. The media unfairly attacked her for crying publicly. It galvanized support for her. The more the media kept kicking her while she was down, the more it solidified my support for her. Eventually, she won in New Hampshire in stunning fashion when all the polls and pundits had her dead. Obama’s coronation was put on hold. Chris Matthews, the host of the MSNBC show “Hardball” is absolutely an advocate for Barack Obama. He despises the Clintons. He has made numerous sexist remarks about Hillary Clinton. Recently, he had to apologize publicly for some of his comments about Clinton (even though it wasn’t really an apology) because women’s groups put pressure on MSNBC. Watching today’s coverage of Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama, the media turned into the next coming of Camelot. They made it seem like John Kennedy had come back to life and they were turning this into the event that would change the election. We’ll see what happens with that.

8.) While the media has focused on the issues of race, gender, and generation, it has neglected the issue of class. Obama attracts more college educated, wealthier voters, while Clinton attracts blue collar, working class voters. These supporters of Obama also supported Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, and Gary Hart in the past. However, in the end the blue collar, working class voters supported the eventual winner, John Kerry, Al Gore, and Walter Mondale. For Obama to win the nomination, he will need to attract more of these voters as they make up the majority of the Democratic base. E.J. Dionne of the “Washington Post” had a possible explanation for this divide. He observed that for college educated, wealthier voters, they are more attracted to inspiration because specific policies probably won’t affect them directly. For example, they may care about health care, but since they probably have great health care coverage, it is more important to be inspired than to be bored with details of a health plan. For working class, blue collar workers, they are more attracted to perspiration, someone who will work hard for them and who has specific policies. This is important for them because they know that these policies can directly affect them.  These are the people who lack or have limited health care coverage and thus are looking toward the specifics of a policy to help them out. So it’ll be interesting to see how this class divide plays out on Super Tuesday.

9.) I am just sick and tired of people dismissing Clinton’s candidacy because she’s a woman. On my way to church, I was listening to KIRO 710 on the radio and an Obama supporter calls in and said Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be president because having a woman in charge would offend Muslim countries (I don’t believe that this person is representative of the vast majority of Obama supporters). I have also heard some people say they don’t trust a woman to fight terrorism and to lead strongly. Others say because of their Christian views, they don’t believe a woman should be President. I’m frankly tired of these ridiculous and sexist views. I want to make two points. First, as a woman Hillary Clinton is in a no win situation. To be the President, she must show her to be strong and tough. When she does that, then she is viewed as mean, heartless, and a five letter word starting with a “B”. On the other hand, if she shows any emotion or a soft side, she is seen as weak and unfit to lead. So either way, she is going to get attacked. Secondly, other nations have had women in charge. Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan. Pakistan is a Muslim nation and they had a woman lead their nation and almost lead them again before her tragic death. We in America tend to think of Muslim nations as backwards when it comes to issues of equality. But even Pakistan has had a woman elected as their leader unlike the US. Other nations such as England, Germany, Israel, India, Nicaragua, New Zealand, the Philippines, among others have had women as their president or prime minister. It is only in the US, where having a woman as a president is so historic. Maybe we are not as forward thinking as we think we are. Women have proven they can lead just as well as men. We’ve had 43 men lead this nation in the last 220 years. I think  it’s time to give a woman a chance. Hillary Clinton couldn’t do any worse than the current MAN occupying the White House.

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