Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dissing the Electorate

In today's Financial Times, Christopher Caldwell bemoans Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire turnaround as an ominous descent into the Politics of the Personal.

Leave it to a Weekly Standard stalwart to speak with certainty when everyone else -- all the titanic media egos across the political spectrum -- is tentative.

Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire victory in the wake of polls showing her an average of eight points down is one of the great mysteries in recent political history -- a delightful reminder that the future remains opaque to polls, pundits and betting markets. Clinton's internal life is equally a riddle wrapped in an enigma. But Caldwell is blithely certain that Hillary planned her tear-up and won because of it, and that this electoral melting, triggered by mass identification with the soul-baring would-be monarch, is a sign of mass "servility."

Never mind that exit polls show that Clinton's margin among people who made up their minds in the final days was nearly identical to her overall margin. Never mind that speaking in "elegant parallelisms" after a year of nonstop campaigning is more likely a reflex as a sign of premeditation. Never mind that Clinton remains almost terminally unhistrionic as she opens herself up to voter q-and-a (after Iowa) and buries her interlocutors in a mass of wonkish policy detail.

I'll take a 'servile' electorate over a certain pundit any day.

1 comment:

  1. I realize that defending Hillary Clinton (or any pol) on honesty grounds is like defending the phone company but here goes.

    1. Hillary didn't cry, she just choked up a bit. Jon Stewart pointed this out.

    2. Are the people who say the tear-up was scripted also charging that the question was scripted? Or are they saying that Hillary was planning to tear up at any question? That there was some grand plan ("Tear Up Hillary, When a Woman Asks You a Personal Question!").

    Pardon me, but that's making shit up, even for an ink-stained wretch.

    I think TIME's Jay Carney had the most logical explanation, which has been lost in the din about the non-existent tears.

    Biden and Dodd dropped out. They got, combined, about 6% in Iowa, and as New Englanders, both would have gotten at least that much in New Hampshire. Maybe more.

    It's as simple as that.

    The pundits arrogantly scoff at the failed candidates who get minuscule percentages, but elections are won at the margins. Hillary beat Obama by 2.5%. Those Biden/Dodd voters went somewhere. My guess is that most went to Hillary.

    The reason this explanation resonates with me is because I was a qualified supporter of Biden before he dropped out. When he dropped out, I went to Hillary. My reasons had nothing to do with her choking up. I just think she's the best qualified candidate.

    It's amazing to me that this simple, logical explanation hasn't gotten more traction.

    But that's our political culture, dominated as it is by nutcase screamers like Chris Matthews and Andrew Sullivan.