Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How we got here

In politics, few things are more important to sound strategy than an accurate understanding of history. The widespread notion of Barack Obama as destined for triumphant success is an idea rooted in his supposedly brilliant upset of Hillary Clinton. But as Peter Brown notes, Hillary's defeat was self-inflicted:
The Clinton strategy had been to clinch the nomination on Feb. 5, when 22 states held Democratic primaries and caucuses. And that day, like most of the other Tuesdays during the winter and spring, they basically wrote off the caucus states.
Sen. Clinton - and basically everyone else - expected her strong name identification and favorable image among Democratic activists, combined with a presumed (incorrectly it turned out) money advantage would deliver her the nomination that day. But Mr. Obama fought her to a virtual draw on Feb. 5, when almost 40% of the delegates were decided. He took the more numerous smaller primaries and caucus states, while she was winning the handful of big prizes — New York, New Jersey and California.
He, however, had planned and budgeted for the 11 contests during the rest of February. She had not - a victim of her campaign believing its own hype about inevitability.
I made a similar point in a recent Pajamas Media column:
Hindsight shows how foolish were the expectations that prevailed as 2007 came to a close. Conservatives shared the Clinton campaign’s belief that the former first lady would score an early knockout in the Democratic primaries, essentially locking up the nomination on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5. As Joshua Green of the Atlantic Monthly has since reported, that mistaken belief was a key factor in the failure of Team Hillary to organize effectively for a long nomination battle.
It is important to understand, also, how Obama benefitted from Republicans' relentless four-year anti-Hillary campaign. The GOP assumed that Hillary would be the nominee in 2004, and devoted immense resources to demonizing her, thus making her a softer target for her Democratic rivals. One of the reasons Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" did not prevent Obama from locking up the nomination was that many of Limbaugh's listeners had been so brainwashed by years of anti-Clinton propaganda that they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary even when Limbaugh told them to.

Too many conservatives seem demoralized by Obama's election, and part of that demoralization is caused by the "Triumph of Hope" narrative, which omits the important facts of how Obama's victory was made possible by the failures of others.


  1. Actually, R.S., it was the failure of conservatives to unify behind one candidate and thus deny Crazy Cousin John the GOP nomination. We deserve what we get. But, we better get some backbone and leadership because the cracks are building on the good ship Obama. Thanks to Crazy Gov. Rod!

  2. I voted for Hillary when the primaries got to Wisconsin. She's the first Democrat I've voted for since Paul Simon in 1988. My excuse there: I was a college student voting for the very first time.

  3. The RNC better start pulling itself together and promoting all the Jindals and Palins waiting in the wings. Time is a wastin'.

    Also, RNC conservatives have to make the 2010 Congressional mid-terms their first goal to gridlock this upcoming disastrous Presidency.