Debate Ouch

I was playing chess with Littlest Guy, and missed the debate.

But I’ve been reading the blogs and news about it, and the reaction that resonated with me was Stephen Green’s:

I never thought I’d say this, but Hillary Clinton is too stupid, dependent, and timid to be President of the United States of America. A year ago, even a couple months ago, I might have said that Clinton was too shrewd, shrill, and bellicose to be President. But not anymore. Not after tonight.

…read the whole thing…

38 thoughts on “Debate Ouch”

  1. Obama may be the candidate of “change you can Xerox”, but at this point all Hillary’s got is “change you can stick a fork in.”

  2. Huma Abedin? It would not be the first time Obama has used a sex scandal against a rival. If true btw it would make me believe the allegations of gay sex/drug use by the guy suing Obama’s campaign.

    Pols usually use their own greatest weak spot against enemies.

  3. Even as I disagree with the obviously skewed opinions of the Republican partisan Stephen Green on the Clinton campaign, I can’t help wondering why you don’t recognize the blatantly negative and false characterization of these views as indicating “stupidity”, “dependency’ and “timidity”. Unfortunately, this is the kind of personal slander and character attack that passes for Right wing politics these days.

    But it’s nevertheless enlightening to know that a Hillary hit piece resonates with you….I guess you don’t agree with Obama’s views on Hillary then? If you did watch the debate, you would have seen two excellent, intelligent and skilled politicians who are strong on ideas, and who went out of their way to maintain a civil tone during the debate, despite the naked attempts by the CNN stooges to goad them into going on the attack against each other. Either one makes an excellent candidate against the forked-tongue McCain or an of the other Republican figureheads that have run. Both are very popular with Democrats. I’ll happily and strongly support whichever one wins the nomination, even though I’m pushing for Obama.

  4. Alan, I can only suggest that you read Green’s entire post. He legitimately criticizes her for running an inept campaign, for failing to see when she’s being given bad advice and changing course, for hubris in assuming that it would be locked up on Super Tuesday.

    These go beyond the personal negatives of character and leadership to her core claim of competence. Note that I made the same claims about Kerry “four years ago”:

    But if you’ve got a defense of how her campaign was in fact competent, I’d love to hear it.


  5. There is an article fw: to me in the politico:

    “Obama not yet wise to freak show”: that suggests that Obama’s attempts to reduce dirty politics (although some disagree that this is really happening) make him a prime target for the right. Especially with his wife’s horrible gaffes lately, some democrats worry about another swift-boat style attack where Obama is slow to react.

    Obviously, the article’s title is over-the-top. But it is an interesting point. Can Obama use his style & charisma to deflate partisan hacks? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  6. Alan, I should offer an example – her campaign didn’t know the rules for Texas’ proportional allocation of delegates until a month or so ago. That’s not a matter of ideology, or intelligence, but of sheer bloody incompetence.

    And it places the health care fiasco she triggered under her husband’s Administration in a new light for me as well.

    Senators don’t run things, they talk about them. The Senate may be a good place for her to be.


  7. OBAMA: You know, I’ve heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon — supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon. Ended up being sent to Afghanistan with 24 because 15 of those soldiers had been sent to Iraq.

    And as a consequence, they didn’t have enough ammunition, they didn’t have enough Humvees. They were actually capturing Taliban weapons, because it was easier to get Taliban weapons than it was for them to get properly equipped by our current commander in chief.

    I have not see the debate, but if he REALLY said this, he has little clue about the military at all. When was the last time anyone heard of a Capt.leading a platoon? Or a platoon being broken up into two separate theaters?
    As far as capturing taliban weapons, yes, that is the general idea! Best to pick them up after the owners have been killed (by the weapons you do not have?) And it is not the President who votes money for the war, it is congress.

  8. #5….I did read it, AL. None of his opinions or charges makes her personally “stupid”, “timid” or any of the other pejoratives he uses. If voters prefer Obama over Hillary, it is certainly not because they think she is any of these things….as I pointed out before, over 70% of Dem primary voters will happily vote for the other candidate in the general.

    Not anticipating the appeal of an opponent is certainly not a personal failing. It happens nearly every single time. You fail to give credit to Obama for playing a positive role in this…the effort to assign all of the blame for her failure to “lock-up” the nomination to the Clinton campaign is simply biased and one-sided thinking and negative politics.

    The fundamental flaw in this kind of thinking is that seems to suggest that she is struggling to surpass Obama in appeal because of some tactical campaign issues and not because voters find him more attractive as a candidate. You might have observed over the years that this kind of thing ain’t completely in the candidates control…and therefore efforts to make it seem like it is can be rightly categorized as thinly veiled efforts to take a personal swipe at a candidate’s character.

    But have at it if it makes you feel better…

  9. That’s not to say I think her campaign is running smoothly at the moment. But is that really a surprise? If she were ahead her “strategy”, such as it was, would be hailed as smart (actually, probably not, with all the anti-Clinton animus out there in the media world). She’s not doing as well as she had hoped or predicted….so a mid-course correction is expected….ALL politicians in a similar circumstance do this. If anything it shows good judgement to attempt to adjust tactics that are not, apparently, effective as the situation changes. After the last 8 years, Americans are highly suspicious of the bull-headed approach to policy that masquerades as adherence to core “principles”, believe me.

  10. Alan, with all due respect, you’re delusional. The time for a mid-course correction was midnight Feb 5; At this point the numbers seem pretty clear; she’s going to lose Texas (on delegates if not on the popular vote) and win Ohio by a narrow margin. What then?


  11. “Delusional”, eh? I see we can now include a problem with semantics…making this a rather difficult conversation to have I suppose.

    Nothing that you or Green are saying can justifiably be used to support his contention (which you are endorsing) that Clinton is “Stupid”, “Timid”, “Dependent”, “Shrewd”, “Shrill” or “Bellicose”.

  12. Alan, I endorsed Obama; of course I see him as the more attractive candidate. But he’s a highly vulnerable candidate, and had Hillary run a competent race, her institutional advantages could and should have prevailed – which would have made me unhappy.

    The interesting thing here is the “Emperor’s New Clothesness” of it; that Hillary who has run – as Green states – as the tough-as-nails, competent ‘ready’ candidate is so woefully unprepared.


  13. You have amazing powers of prediction, AL. Like I said, sometimes actual voters can confound even the most seemingly certain outcomes through no fault of the candidates. Obama’s popularity and appeal has steadily grown in proportion to Hillary’s. THAT is the story, not an incompetent Clinton campaign. Don’t sell Obama short, nor slag Clinton reflexively for failing to anticipate this.

  14. _”Nothing that you or Green are saying can justifiably be used to support his contention (which you are endorsing) that Clinton is “Stupid”, “Timid”, “Dependent”, “Shrewd”, “Shrill” or “Bellicose”.”_

    Stupid and shrewd? Timid and bellicose? Is Green incoherent or is Alan? I guess I should read the posting. Shrill i dont think is in doubt, however.

  15. Alan et al – Green said that before the debate, he dislike Hillary because he perceived her as shill, bellicose, and shrewd. After the debate, he saw her as timid, stupid, and dependent.

    Hope that clears things up.


  16. While I don’t support Senator Clinton I have to say in all fairness this. I live in Texas and I have a hard time making sense of the silly primary/caucus hybrid the Democrats here came up with.

    That said, Senator Clinton’s campaign has showed several weaknesses lately. But I hardly think that qualifies her as stupid, timid or shrill.

    And frankly if you’d seen the debate instead of relying on Glass you’d probably agree.

    And Raven, Phil Carter agrees with Obama’s sentiment and claims he experienced the same thing first hand.

    Intel Dump

    By the way A.L., what’s your take on the Freepers response to the debate?

  17. Alan, have you ever actually worked in a campaign? I have on a local (assembly, state senate, Congress) and statewide basis.

    Campaigning, like any other human activity, quickly shows up incompetence, and what we’re seeing from Hillary’s camp – as we saw it from Kerry’s camp as well – is incompetence.

    Go to the Wayback Machine and check out Newsweek’s series on “How Bush Did It”:


  18. #16…Uh, yeah, I get it AL. That’s a real phase shift in his views…certainly worth exploring, ain’t it?


    Which brings us to the question as to which part “resonates” with you, seeing that you didn’t watch the debate? You might want to clear up that confusion anyway.

  19. To state it again, I disagree with your premise in #19. Candidates do not only lose because of “incompetence”, and neither you nor Green have provided any convincing or credible evidence that Clinton’s failure to bury Obama early is the result of this. In fact, there are many examples of campaigns succeeding despite rank incompetence. McCain, for one.

    It seems rather that you both have an ax to grind against Clinton….surprise surprise.

  20. I think it’s obvious that the Clinton campaign just didn’t expect to be still fighting the primary battle at this point.

    Which in a way is ironic. Who could have predicted that Obama would come out of nowhere and build up such support?

    Shades of 1992 if you ask me.

    Contrast that with the Obama campaign which has really been pretty incredible.

    That said, either would probably make a fine nominee.

  21. Sure – I’ve always seen Hillary as unlikable (hence uncharismatic), somewhat scary in her attachment to power, and overly heavyhanded in how she used it (this is based on her treatment of Cooper during the healthcare hoo-hah and other similar anecdotes). But I had the impression that she was both deeply smart and highly competent.

    So far in the campaign, we’ve had the forcible ejection of a campaign manager who watched soap operas during the day; she’s pissed away an immense amount of money in campaigns she could and should have rolled over and won; she’s stuck to a losing stump speech when she should have been nimbly changing course, and she has hammered away on the same three or four issues.

    I’m not seeing “smart” nor “highly competent” here. Certainly not by comparison to Obama’s campaign.


  22. I don’t disagree with you, AL, on many of your points in #24 (except the “in campaigns she could and should have rolled over and won” prediction, of course). What I am concerned about is your failure to consider additional, significant influences on the voting outcomes (specifically Obama’s increasing appeal and the momentum factor) which do not support your conjecture that her “stupidity” and “incompetence” are largely or entirely to blame for the closeness of this race. Which itself also argues against your point, since many many people are still turning out in record numbers to vote for Hillary, more than McCain or any other Republican candidate, for that matter.

    If this is incompetence than I’m mystified at how well she is doing and has done so far. And we’re not done yet.

    It’s a very unbalanced and overly personal argument, predicated on a few key and unsupportable conjectures (she should have won already, Obama’s charisma and appeal have little do to with his relative success) and factual omissions (the small margin between the candidates even now, the fact that most Dems find both candidates strongly appealing) that is quite far from being either interesting or useful. But it does succeed in slamming Hillary…which I now understand to be your main goal, not good analysis.

  23. Alan has a point to some extent- realistically you can’t be strong everywhere. Even HRC has limited resources of time, money, and talent. Whether she and her people have shown enough adaptibility at this stage is a fair question, but its hardly surprising the the B-team (or c,d,e) had been assigned to Texas long ago and sometimes just digging out of incompetence eats up the fixers time once you realize it matters after all.

    And that doesnt mean Obama isnt having the same problems or worse. Its just that momentum is important for a reason. It makes everything look better.

  24. Alan, I have to go work for a bit – but the narrative I expected to see in the campaign was Obama’s unifying message and personal charisma vs. Hillary’s competence and policy depth. (plus hawkishness for people like me).

    Obama has delivered on his side of the contest, but Hillary truly hasn’t on hers. Would Obama be leading anyway? Impossible to say, obviously.


  25. How are you assessing whether she has “delivered” on her message or not? By votes? It becomes a circular argument.

    The simplest explanation for the current results is that her message is not catching on with the electorate to the same degree as is Obama’s, and to the extent that this can rightfully be viewed as a failure on her part to make her arguments as compelling as his, I’d agree with you, but not for the same reasons. Not too many politicians in our lifetime have the kind of rhetorical gifts that Obama possesses. This ain’t no ordinary opponent.

  26. And BTW, since you missed the debate, AL, I would suggest you at least take a moment to watch “this answer from Hillary”: and then come back and tell us whether you still side with Green and the other anti-Clinton crusaders out there or not.

    This is an excellent candidate who just happens to have the misfortune of arriving at her moment in history at the same time as another equally and perhaps even more talented politician.

  27. Obama talented? He’s buddies with Ayers and Dorn. Two Weather Underground Terrorists. He’s on the record for Gun Confiscation.

    Two hot button issues that paint him as a pseudo-Nation of Islam radical.

    BILL Clinton at least understood Joe Average White voter and won enough of them against Republicans in AK. Obama? Relied on sex scandals to get rid of Jack Ryan. Beating Alan Keyes is not impressive.

  28. A.L., I think I can agree on the incompetent part – and also on the dependent part, when it comes to her campaign runners.

    But too far, for “stupid” and “timid”.

    In this case, it simply is the case that going after Obama – “shaking things up”, wouldn’t work for her. And she sees that.

    She’s a good candidate – the problem is, she isn’t her husband – who’s a great candidate.

    She may have been (still might be, if there is some shocker), a great president.

    But Obama is an INCREDIBLE candidate, for the time.

    You put an incredible candidate against a good candidate, most of the time, the incredible candidate wins.

    My own theory, which has yet to be proven wrong, is that in the age of cable TV, barring some meltdown, in the general election, the smoothest talking, most comfortable, charismatic, likeable candidate wins. This has been the case since Reagan:

    a. Reagan beats Carter, Mondale
    b. Bush 1 beats Dukakis (yes, both don’t do well there, but I would argue that Bush 1 was more likeable than Dukakis)
    c. Clinton beats Bush 1, Dole
    d. Bush 2 beats Gore (a bit of a counter-evidence here, since the Supreme Court and Rethug tricksters decided this one, but hey, final result)
    e. Bush beats Kerry.

    Bringing us to McCain and (probably) Obama.

    McCain’s pretty likeable, as is Obama. Both are comfortable in their own skin. But Obama is more charismatic, without a doubt.

    So based on this theory (narrow, of course – lots of other demographic/structural factors count), Obama wins the general.

  29. Old News. The country is going through a massive change in its view of itself as it did in 1980. The Neo Cons have led the country down a very depressing and self defeating path. Consequently, ideology will take a back seat. Obama will trounce McCain in the Fall, with Reagan like numbers. I would not be surprised if he took all 50 states.

    Hillary lost because Obama set the tone and the rules of the race. He will do the same thing with MCCain.

    I watched the returns from Wisconsin with three friends. Two women and one man, all over 60. One said when hearing McCAin speech, how can this guy possibly win when he seems old to us.

    The Republicans have self destructed and are reaping the effects of the Administrations Faustina deal with the Neo-Cons. We will all be better off when they are purged from the Party. We have to build a new coalition. Dubya will be remembered as the Republican Carter.

  30. Alan – what about that clip is supposed to change my mind?

    She served up a creampuff to Obama in it; I’m kind of inclined to agree with the people who saw it as a concession.

    It doesn’t change the fact that she hasn’t shown the ability to run a national campaign organization, or to come up with a compelling narrative to counter Obama’s. It doesn’t change the fact that she assumed that she’d lock up the nomination by spending the last eight years building infrastructure aimed at seeing her – not necessarily the Party – succeed.

    My point stands. The Empress has no clothes.


  31. Alan wrote: “there are many examples of campaigns succeeding despite rank incompetence. McCain, for one.”

    Considering where McCain was at the start of summer – dead in the water in the polls, with virtually no campaign funds left – for him to emerge as the GOP candidate when all is said and done suggests something other than incompetence. You may want to see it as just making fewer mistakes than his opponents, but a lot of times that’s all it takes.

  32. #36

    He still may have next to no campaign funds left, Tagryn, which would put him in an exceedingly “stupid” position:

    From Americablog:

    Here’s what it means and why it’s important.

    When John McCain’s campaign was strapped for cash John McCain opted into the campaign financing system by requesting certification that he was eligible to collect federal money. As the New Hampshire primary approached and John McCain was broke he took material advantage of the system by using the promise of matching funds to borrow money to keep his campaign afloat. And he took advantage of a rule that gives candidates who take public financing automatic ballot access on ballots in several states. (Governor Dean estimated that he spent 3 million dollars in 2004 getting on ballots in states because he had opted out of the public financing system. )

    Once John McCain had taken advantage of the system by gaining ballot access and securing a campaign saving loan, he won the New Hampshire primary and became the apparent nominee of the Republican Party. He then sent a letter saying that he was opting out of the primary process and claiming that the FEC is now impotent to stop him.

    If John McCain is forced to stay in the matching system he will only be allowed to spend $56 million dollars before the Republican convention in September. As of the end of January John McCain had already spent $49 million dollars meaning that today he’s either close to the cap or over the amount of money he can spend during the primary.

    What does it mean for John McCain? It’s yet another issue where John McCain tries to legislate one way and do something completely different. In this case it has to do with campaign finance issues. As Brad Smith, the former Republican FEC commissioner noted, if McCain drops out of the system the FEC will subpoena McCain, and his staff during and their records to determine whether they violated the law. If they’re found to be in violation of the law they can be fined up to $25,000 and they can be jailed for up to five years.

    What happened today?

    Governor Dean announced that the DNC will be filing an FEC complaint against John McCain tomorrow. The complaint will ask the FEC to investigate whether John McCain has broken campaign finance law by taking advantage of federal matching funds to secure a loan, get on the ballot automatically in states and break that commitment by trying to get around spending limits.

  33. A.L.,

    I certainly agree that we’re better off with Hillary in the Senate than in the White House, but the Senate a good place for her? Come on–the only good place I can think of is some tiny law firm back in Little Rock.

    However soon the Clintons are gone from politics and the public eye, it won’t be soon enough.

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