Water Man Spouts

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"I don't think it's possible"

"I don’t think it’s possible." – Senator Ted Kennedy on the possibility of an Obama-Clinton ticket; Political Capital with Al Hunt.

As the democratic party moves closer to making Senator Barack Obama the nominee for the 2008 presidential election, there has been speculation on who he is considering for his running mate. Some people, including former representative Harold Ford – who is now the DLC Chairman – have suggested that because of the split between the Obama and Clinton camps, it may be necessary for Obama to chose Senator Clinton. Others have noted that this could allow for the Obama campaign to retire the huge debt that the Clinton campaign suffers from.

Senator Ted Kennedy, who endorsed Barack Obama in late January, has been quoted as saying that he does not think an Obama-Clinton ticket is a good idea. Without naming an alternative, the Elder Statesman of the Democratic Party stated that Obama should select someone who "is in tune with his appeal for the nobler aspirations of the American people." Kennedy also said that a VP with a national security background would be a bonus, but not essential, because Obama has proven that he has a good grasp of foreign policy.

When questioned about Senator Kennedy’s position, his spokesman Anthony Coley said it was based upon the "tenor of the campaign" in recent weeks. I thought it might be interesting to review this in the context of events from January, when Senator Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama, to the surprise of many.

As always, when he consider political campaigns, we break the public into three general groups: {a} those who support you; {b} those who oppose you; and {c} the undecided. We will keep these three groups in mind, as we examine the four reasons that Ted Kennedy decided to endorse Obama.

Internal polls indicated that Senator Clinton was unlikely to win the general election against a republican candidate in November. While she had high levels of loyal support in Group A, Hillary Clinton has very high "negatives." A Clinton campaign would unite the Group B republicans and conservatives who dislike her, and her husband. Her ability to attract Group C support was viewed as marginal.

Obama was showing the ability to beat any of the republican candidates in the general election. His ability to attract a growing Group A had become evident. There were concerns about the potential Group B opposition, but Obama was not a lightening rod for republican hostility in the way that the Clintons are. And Obama showed the ability to win Group C support when the public learned more about him.

Senator Kennedy was concerned that the Clinton campaign would create serious divisions within the democratic party, including a racial divide, by using negative campaign tactics in the primary. These fractures would be targets for the republican opposition to exploit in the fall. At the time, there were reports of a heated phone conversation between Senator Kennedy and former President Clinton regarding this issue. Since then, there have been a number of related reports, including the recent article that detailed Sidney Blumenthal’s use of rabid right-wing sources in an attempt to discredit Obama.

Senator Obama was attempting to run a positive campaign, which reflects his approach to dealing with the problems that have divided the American people, and allowed serious damage to be done to our Constitutional democracy.

In the time since Ted Kennedy’s endorsement, those four things have been reinforced. Senator Clinton has noted that if we were the republican party, she would have already won the nomination. The truth is that her campaign was run by people like Mark Penn, who indeed thought in republican and reptilian ways. The Obama campaign has reflected the strength of the democratic grass roots. Though Clinton has won some big states, Obama has won twice as many states, and leads in popular vote, delegates, and super delegates. The Clinton campaign has relied upon large donors, and has incurred huge debts; the Obama campaign has attracted small donors, and has a significant bank account.

At this point, it is important not only for Senator Obama to win the November election, but also to head a ticket that reflects a new approach to leadership. The ticket will set the tone for the congressional contests, as well. There are many good democrats for Barack Obama to consider for his running mate. But I agree with Senator Ted Kennedy, that Hillary Clinton is not a good choice at this time.


At May 10, 2008 at 6:37 PM, Blogger Vigilante said...

Please vote in my Instant Recount Voting (IRV) ballot on the next Vice-President of the United States! (And leave your name in the comments!)


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