Archive for August 11th, 2008

August 11, 2008

Dem strategist: Obama ‘unelectable’

As early as March 2007, Hillary Clinton strategist Mark Penn argued that Barack Obama was “unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun.”

That’s from the cache of internal Clinton campaign documents accompanying Joshua Green’s Atlantic Monthly article about how Hillary lost it.

UPDATE: If you want to know how not to curry favor with the press, check out this letter from the Washington Post‘s managing editor, complaining that Clinton spokesman Phil Singer was badmouthing one of the Post‘s reporters to a colleague.

UPDATE II: OK, continuing to read through the Green article, and now we see the fatal turn:

On May 21, the deputy campaign director, Mike Henry, wrote a prescient memo noting the cost and difficulty of running there and proposing that Clinton skip the caucus. The memo was leaked to The New York Times. Henry had estimated (conservatively, as it turned out) that Iowa would require more than $15 million and 75 days of the candidate’s presence, and would not provide any financial or organizational edge. “This effort may bankrupt the campaign and provide little if any political advantage,” he warned. When the story appeared, Clinton felt compelled to
publicly recommit, thereby upping Iowa’s significance even further.

By the time Iowa was over, Hillary had raised $100 million — but had spent $106 million. Too much of this money went to Mark Penn, the pollster/consultant, who was very good at “big picture” image stuff but knew zilch about the grassroots mechanics of campaign organization.

Obama and Edwards had gotten a big head start in Iowa because Hillary was up for re-election to the Senate in 2006 and couldn’t afford to make it appear she was looking ahead to ’08. One could think of ways to get around that — putting together a “shadow” operation in Iowa at relatively low cost that could be funded trhough her leadership PAC or other sources — but the big brains in Team Clinton were apparently so focused on the “big picture” stuff that they neglected that kind of nuts-and-bolts thinking.

UPDATE III: In the absence of leadership:

On February 11 . . . Phil Singer, Wolfson’s deputy and a man notorious for his tirades at reporters, blew up in Wolfson’s office and screamed obscenities at his boss before throwing open the door to direct his ire at the campaign’s policy director, Neera Tanden, an ally of [fired former campaign director Patti] Solis Doyle. “Fuck you and the whole fucking cabal!” he shouted, according to several Clinton staffers. In the end, he climbed onto a chair and screamed at the entire staff before storming out.

It is very important in any large organization that everybody knows who’s boss. There must be hierarchy and clear lines of authority, and the boss has to be able to evaluate the competence of deputies. Patti Solis Doyle didn’t know what she was doing, and Penn was paid way too much for what he was doing. It’s impossible to evaluate Harold Ickes performance, since nobody seems to know exactly what he was supposed to be doing. And, as media strategist, Wolfson managed to alienate everyone in the media.

“Personnel is policy,” the old saying goes, and Hillary’s campaign had assembled a cadre of second-raters in top positions. But this is entirely the candidate’s fault. The candidate is always ultimately in charge of his own campaign, and if Hillary put the wrong people in charge, she has no one to blame but herself.

UPDATE IV: In three successive e-mails (2/25, 3/5, 3/10) a group of advisers urged Hillary to challenge the DNC on the disallowed Florida and Michigan primaries, but she refused to act on their advice until May, when it was too late. Again, this is her fault.

August 11, 2008

Poll Watch update

UPDATED & BUMPED: Matthew Yglesias holds his hands over his ears and shouts “Lalalalala! I can’t hear you!” He tries to convince himself that recent movement in the Gallup tracking poll was just “statistical noise,” although the chart he references makes the trend clear:

  • For five days — July 24-28, corresponding with the media gush over his foreign trip — Obama enjoyed an average Gallup lead of 7.2 points.
  • In a subsequent five-day period — July 30-Aug. 3 — Obama’s Gallup lead dwindled to an average of exactly 1 point.

Why would Yglesias wish to ignore such a clear shift? Because it indicates that McCain’s attack strategy was effective. He does not want to admit that Obama is vulnerable to such attacks.

Gallup: Obama 47%, McCain 42%
Rassmussen: Obama 48%, McCain 46%

In Virginia, Survey USA shows McCain barely leading — encouraging news for the Republican, considering Obama led every Virginia poll in June. McCain maintains his lead in Missouri, and two polls show him still ahead in Florida.

In recent polls of several other potential swing states, Obama still leads, but is under 50% and McCain remains within striking distance — Michigan (Obama 49%, McCain 45%), Oregon (Obama 48%, McCain 45%), Ohio (Obama 46%, McCain 44%), and Pennsylvania (Obama 49%, McCain 42%). The fact that McCain is spending two days campaigning in Pennsylvania this week shows Team Maverick still hasn’t written off a state that no Republican presidential candidate has won since 1988.

Obama’s “map-changer” strategy hasn’t worked out, either: McCain leads the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado and Idaho, as well as in North Carolina, where Team Obama thought their Democratic primary win was such a harbinger of Change.

Democrats are starting to worry about the failure of Obama to establish a strong lead over McCain. Despite the rosy Electoral College projections of Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight (which I examined last week at the American Spectator), Team Obama’s hopes of getting big “bounce” after eliminating Hillary in June were frustrated, and St. Hopey’s much-hyped foreign trip was, at best, a non-factor poll-wise, while reinforcing the Democrat’s image as arrogant.

Politico reports on the poll-driven concerns:

[Obama’s] supporters are now suffering a pre-Denver panic attack, watching as John McCain draws incrementally closer in state and national polls – with Rasmussen’s most recent daily national tracker showing a statistical dead heat.

Meanwhile, John Heileman speaks the unspeakable:

[I]n a year like this, why is the race so close? Why isn’t Obama creaming his rival? Why is he, at best, just a few points ahead, and stubbornly stalled below 50 percent in every national poll? . . .
Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible, just possible, that Obama’s lead is being inhibited by the fact that he is, you know, black?

Well, Hillary tried to warn them, and her diehard supporters insist it’s still not to late for super-delegates to change their minds. But that’s not stopping Obama from enjoying his tropical vacation.

August 11, 2008

New McCain ad

August 11, 2008

Megan in bureaucratic hell

Wherein the World’s Tallest Female Blogger discovers that the penalties for underage drinking still apply when you’re 35.

Generally speaking, I consider bureaucratic incompetence a blessing, rather than a curse. I mean, imagine what an all-powerful government would do if it were actually run by semi-intelligent people who knew what they were doing, as opposed to being run by the kind of lazy dimwits you find behind the counter at the DMV.

August 11, 2008

Oh, for crying out loud

Responding to Howard Wolfson’s assertion that the early revelation of the Edwards-Hunter affair might have boosted Hillary to victory in Iowa, Nate Silver writes:

It was also the case that Barack Obama appeared to get the lion’s share of Edwards supporters once Edwards dropped from the race.

Talk about not getting it. Edwards dropped out after Obama won Iowa; it was Obama’s Iowa victory that established him as a credible alternative to Hillary. What Wolfson was arguing was that, if the MSM had followed up on the Edwards scandal immediately after the Enquirer revealed it in October, this would have knocked Edwards out at a time when (a) the most recent polls showed Hillary well ahead, and (b) Obama still hadn’t established his credibility.

What happened after Iowa was to a great degree a media-generated snowball rolling downhill for Obama. But if he hadn’t won Iowa — and if Edwards had been knocked out in fall 2007, a Hillary win would have been more feasible — that snowball never would have started rolling. Democratic primary voters were looking for a winner, and the MSM hyped Obama’s Iowa win as evidence that he was on his way to an inevitable November victory.

August 11, 2008

Obama: Arrogant and partisan

(Via Hot Air.) “He hasn’t done a huge amount of anything very much, frankly.”

August 11, 2008

John McCain caught with younger woman!

Dan Riehl has the exclusive.

August 11, 2008

FEC can’t regulate satire

Iowahawk makes an in-kind contribution.

August 11, 2008

Newspaper death watch, pt. MCXXVII

See-Dubya notes Debra Sauders’ caution against conservative glee over the death of newspapers. I’ve written about this many times before:

I spent 22 years in the newspaper business, and walked away. While I would dearly love to work for a newspaper again, the industry is in a death spiral now. It’s like a game of musical chairs where every time the music stops, there’s another round of buyouts and layoffs.

The Washington Times paid out millions to hire a consulting firm (always a bad sign), brought in a new editor, spent another huge chunk of change on redesigning its Web site, and guess what? They’re no better off, and many readers complain that the paper’s gotten worse.

August 11, 2008

New book on Allen West

A new book by Richard Berry, A Missing Link in Leadership: The Trial of LTC Allen West, examines the experience of Lt. Col. West in Iraq — when he was charged with assault for the gunpoint interrogation of a terrorism suspect — in the context of leadership theory.

CQ rates West’s campaign for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District as a long shot, because of first-term Democratic Rep. Ron Klein’s huge financial advantage. However, West’s campaign is now attracting national attention — including recent coverage from Human Events, the New York Daily News and the New York Sun — which should help generate fundraising for a candidate who’s everything conservative Republicans say they want in Congress. As his campaign manager told me last week, their only concern is that the support might come too late to help.

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)