kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I think Hillary Clinton has a justified objection to the fact that she has been treated with a considerable degree of sexism; I think more—much more—from the media than from the Obama campaign, but others may differ.

I also think she made some strategic mistakes along the way: as others have pointed out, campaigning as if she were, indeed, the inevitable nominee; not paying sufficient attention to caucuses; Mark Penn and all he brought; the little Bosnia flap. I'll take Bill Clinton to have been, ultimately, a wash: helpful in many ways, not helpful in certain important ways. After Obama won 11 elections in a row, Clinton started to appear more and more desparate, exaggerating differences that may have been real but not enormous, possibly using some race-coded language, particularly in Appalachian states (PA, WVa, KY), and then coming up with more and more tenuous arguments about Michigan and Florida delegates. As someone said on TV last night, given the recent polling, she's really beating Obama in just one demographic: Women over 50. If, as this commentator continued, Obama was leading in national polls in just that one demographic--along with the other numbers--would Clinton be suggesting that it not be about time for him to drop out?

In any case, I think we thought some of these were "Hail Mary" passes, but I think we hadn't seen the real Roger Staubach version until today. My guess is that the reaction to this among Democrats and the media (if there is a difference) will result in the zesty brown product of my title. I couldn't find a good picture of a nail, being hammered into a coffin.




May 23, 2008 --

Hillary Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama.

"My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said, dismissing calls to drop out.

Full story/video link here


Blogger Bazarov said...


7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m posting a NYTimes Op/Ed piece by Paul Krugman (also found at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/26/opinion/26krugman.html?_r=1&oref=slogin). Afterwards I will post my comments.

9:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Divided They Stand
Published: May 26, 2008

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.

This one, in case you missed it, involved an interview Hillary Clinton gave the editorial board of South Dakota’s Argus Leader, in which she tried to make a case for her continuing campaign by pointing out that nomination fights have often gone on into the summer. As one of her illustrations, she mentioned that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June.

It wasn’t the best example to use, but it’s absurd to suggest, as some Obama supporters immediately did, that Mrs. Clinton was making some kind of dark hint about Barack Obama’s future.

But then, it was equally absurd to portray Mrs. Clinton’s assertion that it took L.B.J.’s political skills to turn Martin Luther King’s vision into legislation as an example of politicizing race. Yet the claim that Mrs. Clinton was playing the race card, which was promoted by some Obama supporters as well as in a memo by a member of Mr. Obama’s staff, achieved wide currency.

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.

To the extent that the general election is about the issues, Mr. Obama should have no trouble winning over former Clinton supporters, especially the white working-class voters he lost in the primaries. His health care plan is seriously deficient, but he will nonetheless be running on a far more worker-friendly platform than his opponent.

Indeed, John McCain has shed whatever maverick tendencies he may once have had, and become almost a caricature conservative — an advocate of lower taxes for the rich and corporations, a privatizer and shredder of the safety net.

But elections always involve emotions as well as issues, and there are some ominous signs in the polling data. In Florida, in particular, the rolling estimate produced by the professionals at Pollster.com shows Mr. McCain running substantially ahead of Mr. Obama, even as he runs significantly behind Mrs. Clinton. Ohio also looks problematic, and Pennsylvania looks closer than it should. It’s true that head-to-head polls five months before the general election have a poor track record. But they certainly give reason to worry.

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.

So what comes next? 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.

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.

Here’s the point: 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. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After this latest despicable hatchet job by the left on my candidate, I have come to a decision: I will not vote for Barack Obama in the general election in November, even if it throws the election to John McCain. This is not out of spite, but after the realization that Obama and his supporters are no better than the Swift-Boat thugs we witnessed four years ago, and frankly I do not want that crowd in charge.

This decision is not up for debate: If I think the Obama supporters have alienated me, then the Obama supporters HAVE alienated me. There are millions of people around the country who feel like me, and though I of course cannot speak for all of them, I’m guessing that a pretty good percentage will also not pull the Obama lever in November, and that a good percentage of those are in crucial states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania (my home state).

The sad thing about this is that it was so unnecessary. We could have had a good vigorous debate and campaign, and if Obama supporters (including Olbermann on a large scale and Mosser and a small scale) had really had faith in their candidate, they wouldn’t have had to resort to the relentless, ugly hatchet job that resulted. It tells me Obama can’t win on the merits. He can only win by demonizing the opponent.

If McCain does win in November, you’ll only have yourselves to blame. Sure, you’ll issue all manner of self-righteous denials (beginning, probably, in response to this post), but these will be the result of delusion, in the same way that Ralph Nader to this day thinks he is completely blameless about his role in the 2000 fiasco. But in retrospect, it will seem like such a no-brainer that even you will have to concede the logic: is the way to take back the White House really to alienate half of the Democratic party? Duh!! Nice-going, Swift-Boaters.

9:17 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

Fair enough. I love it when people put up claims that they say are "not up for debate." I also like the idea that any response will,no doubt, be "self-righteous denial."Did you used to be the chair of my department?

I think it an odd inference, that one shouldn't vote for a candidate because the media attacked his opponent. The Obama campaign said, more or less, that the comment was "unfortunate."

The reason for bringing up a specific assassination of a Presidential candidate escapes me; Krugman himself says "it wasn't the best example to use." Indeed, one might suggest it was close to the worst example to use.

There is some bitterness between these two campaigns, undoubtedly. I recognized long ago that if Clinton won the election, I almost certainly would vote for her, if not enthusiastically, in spite of some of her own comments as well as some of the things her supporters have said.

Some Clinton people simply want to take their ball and go home, incapable apparently of doing the math or recognizing the difference between a candidate's comments and the media's. "I won't vote for Obama because of Keith Olbermann" makes about as much sense as threatening to hold one's breath and turning blue, or, in this case, saying "The media treated my candidate badly, so I don't really care if, say, Roe v. Wade is overturned."

10:15 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

After a little searching, here is the vicious smear "fired back" by the Obama campaign:

"Sen. Clinton's statement before the Argus Leader editorial board was unfortunate and has no place in this campaign," Obama campaign spokesman said in a statement."

Breathtaking in its meanspiritedness.

The Washington Times had a story in January that "assassinate Obama" was already a top 100 search item; Huckabee and a FOX news talking head have both had to apologize--as did Clinton--about mentioning the Obama campaign and assassination.

A smart woman running a strong campaign, experienced like no other candidate I've ever seen: bringing up this example is either bizarre or intentional.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...or about as much sense as saying: "I care more about demonizing Clinton than I do about ensuring that, say Roe v. Wad is upheld,."

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should have done a little more searching.

Here's excerpts from yesterday's NYT story:

Shortly after Mrs. Clinton spoke on Friday, the Obama campaign jumped on the story, sending an e-mail message to reporters saying her comment had no place in a presidential campaign. It linked to a online report in The New York Post that said Mrs. Clinton was “making an odd comparison between the dead candidate and Barack Obama” — a phrase the newspaper later dropped.

On “Face the Nation” Sunday on CBS, Mr. Wolfson said, “It was unfortunate and unnecessary, and in my opinion, inflammatory, for the Obama campaign to attack Senator Clinton on Friday for these remarks, without obviously knowing the full facts or context.”

The Obama campaign had also e-mailed to reporters a transcript of a harsh critique of Mrs. Clinton on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” on MSNBC.

On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos, the host of “This Week” on ABC, asked David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s top strategist, about sending the transcript.

“You say you’re not trying to stir the issue up,” Mr. Stephanopoulos said. “But a member of your press staff yesterday was sending around to an entire press list — I have the e-mail here — Keith Olbermann’s searing commentary against Hillary Clinton. So that is stirring this up, isn’t it?”

Let the delusions begin.

10:41 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

If you think I have "demonized" Clinton, I guess I disagree. I don't like some of the things she's said, and I disagree with some of the things her supporters have said. I obviously voted for Obama, not her. But I've already pointed out that I fully expected to vote for her were she to win the nomination.

Said vote, of course, is moot. So anything I say will be "delusional," "self-righteous denial," and whatever else comes up in the Clintonista's bag of tricks.

Interesting that I'm called delusional by someone supporting a candidate who thinks--in spite of evidence, numbers, and reality--that she can still make it to the White House.

Inevitability is a tough thing to surrender, I reckon.

By the way, as long as your tossing epithets my way, feel brave enough to identify yourself?

10:46 AM  
Blogger Bazarov said...


11:00 AM  
Blogger kmosser said...

An interesting piece on Clinton, the media, feminism, and some other relevant things:

"The sexist attacks on Clinton are outrageous and deplorable, but there's reason to be concerned about her becoming the vehicle for a feminist reawakening. For one thing, feminist sympathy for her has begotten an "oppression sweepstakes" in which a number of her prominent supporters, dismayed at her upstaging by Obama, have declared a contest between racial and gender bias and named sexism the greater scourge. This maneuver is not only unhelpful for coalition-building but obstructs understanding of how sexism and racism have played out in this election in different (and interrelated) ways.

Yet what is most troubling--and what has the most serious implications for the feminist movement--is that the Clinton campaign has used her rival's race against him. In the name of demonstrating her superior "electability," she and her surrogates have invoked the racist and sexist playbook of the right--in which swaggering macho cowboys are entrusted to defend the country--seeking to define Obama as too black, too foreign, too different to be President at a moment of high anxiety about national security. This subtly but distinctly racialized political strategy did not create the media feeding frenzy around the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that is now weighing Obama down, but it has positioned Clinton to take advantage of the opportunities the controversy has presented. And the Clinton campaign's use of this strategy has many nonwhite and nonmainstream feminists crying foul."

4:24 PM  
Anonymous bmackintosh said...

Personally I dislike Hillary Clinton. I have been amazed at the acidity of her conduct during this primary, and thinks she deserves whatever blowback that might arise.

However I will vote for her if she wins this nomination, regardless of any disappointment I might experience. She is far above the competition in terms of her grasp of the issues, compassion for the disenfranchised, and overall political philosophy.

Also, I believe this comment concerning RFK to be nothing more than an illustration that primaries have gone unresolved into June.

Maybe a stupid thing to say for a seasoned politician, but maybe she was tired from too much bitter campaigning.

4:56 PM  
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