Friday, March 28, 2008

An Open Letter to Obama Supporters (JM)

It’s over. We Clinton supporters know this, because most of us are pretty smart. We get that Obama is going to be the nominee and the truth is that, for the most part, we’re okay with this. Barack Obama is a smart man with good advisors who clearly has a talent for politics. So yes, we’ll live, but the ball is totally in your court now.

What I mean by this is that polls have shown almost 28 percent of Hillary’s Democratic supporters are ready to peel off and vote for John McCain. This is obviously insane and those numbers will decrease, but how much they decrease is entirely up to you. So with that in mind as a fairly cerebral Clinton supporter let me give you some advice on how to not alienate former supporters of Hillary.

1. Don’t gloat: Seriously, I swear if I see any Facebook statuses, away messages or get any e-mails proclaiming how happy you are that Hillary is gone or the Saint Barack of Assisi has been anointed I will be far more likely to vote McCain. Your prize is that you get to have Barack Obama is the next president, you don’t get anything else. Remember, most of us simply don’t agree with you that Hillary is a terrible person or that Obama was the better candidate. Just because there are more of you doesn’t prove you’re right or more wise. So cut the crap and attack McCain.

2. Quit it with the pep rally crap: Most of us are glad we are no longer in high school. We don’t need to yell out, “Yes we can!” or hear that “We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for.” It is silly and comports to the exact sort of image that the McCain people will use to attack Obama in the general. I am happy if Barack Obama makes you feel good, but keep it on the inside or make arguments about policy and politics. I am fine with these, there are many good ones. For instance, I hear somewhere that John McCain knows next to nothing about the economy and that he’s eleventy billion years old. A lot of us don’t want to be part of a movement, we want to be part of a party with a candidate. Obama hasn’t changed the way politics is done, he’s politics as usual with a lot of charm. Start acting that way, because we’re definitely not going to get swept up and if you want us aboard (and you need us) stop with the alienating, weird behavior.

3. Stop equating McCain with Bush: This is a generalist thing I suppose, but it seems like one of Obama’s main assaults on McCain will be equating him with Bush. He’s not Bush, though he is a bit of a war-mongerer he eminently more practical. Actually see David Brooks column for some good distinctions in terms of foreign policy. He is also way more likable and a war hero. The fact is though, if you’re going to make him in to Bush III and he simply proves he isn’t, it’s game over. Personality and image is sadly what politics has been about this election cycle, but it won’t win against McCain. Issues and character can and will, attack McCain, don’t attack by analogy.

So in sum, I still think this is a mistake, but you win. Now act like real winners and bring together the party instead of enjoying what will assured by a Pyrrhic victory if you continue with this nonsense.


Dennis said...

Ok so I won't gloat, or at least it will be in private, but your other two suggestions seem silly. Obama wouldn't have won without the excitement which you have so loathed throughout this campaign. Obama is winning is part because he excited people's imaginations. I know you would prefer Obama to gain 20 lbs., don a powdered wig, and gracefully retire from the sordid practice of campaigning until he was called to be president from the Electoral College, but why abandon the speech-making at which he is so good? (albeit, perhaps with an altered tone)

Also, McCain hasn't been distancing himself from Bush, he is essentially clamoring for third term of GWB. Now I don't think this will be so, they are obviously different. But so long as McCain associates himself with someone who is polling in the low 30% range, why not take him up on it?

Also I don't think the 28% number is ridiculous. I expect it to come down some, but that is 14% of Democrats (assuming Hillary gets half of all Democrats). What do you figure is the ceiling for a president to get support from his own party? In a very polarized 2004 John Kerry got 90% of democrats, and, assuming all Obama supporters vote for him over McCain, he would already be very close to that.

Dennis said...

Also, I know Jon doesn't actually fall into this category, but if there are Hillary supporters out there who seriously are considering voting for McCain. I'd caution you against voting for McCain simply out of personal disgust with "Obama supporters." There will always be obnoxious Obama supporters. Despite the rumors we don't attend weekly sacrifices and conferences with the Freemasons, and there is no way for us to control the actions of all.

If you vote for McCain it will be your own choice not anyone else's "fault." While sometimes emotion during the campaign led me to wonder aloud if I could vote for Hillary, I don't think I was ever seriously going to vote for McCain. In part because if McCain got in then his election would partially be my fault. How could I then, with any shred of integrity, criticize his conservative policies when I knew the score when I voted for him?

Ted said...

Comparing McCain with Bush makes sense. The day I take David Brooks' word for something is the day I become a Bobo.

Jonathan said...

I really think you guys think McCain has been clamoring for a third term of Bush because that's been the campaign rhetoric so far. I think he has been actively distancing himself (see how they've spread the Brooks article around like pacifiers at a baby convention (yeah, take that babies)). I think this is going to end up being a futile line of attack that could backfire, when there are SO many good ways to attack.

As for your Bobo comment Ted, two things. First, I think Brooks has been excellent over the last year or two (with the exception of the Reagan race column). He is clearly one of the best at the NYT and possibly one of the better columnists outright. I don't always agree with him, but he's thoughtful and interesting. Secondly, I think he was saying, "Lobo, Lobo, bring back Sheriff Lobo."

Robert said...

"I'd caution you against voting for McCain simply out of personal disgust with 'Obama supporters.' There will always be obnoxious Obama supporters."

Yeah, but if the "supporters" in question are his key advisors, close friends, religious gurus and wife, I think that it's probably fair to judge him by the company he keeps.

The danger in the long campaign is not that Hillary inflicts wounds on Obama from which he can't recover. It's not like she's some master political assassin, capable of launching attacks that the republicans just aren't smart enough to use. Anything she can do, they can do better and more frequently. The danger to the democrats is that Obama's conduct toward Hillary Clinton, chauvinistic, petty and intellectually dishonest as it is, will continue to alienate her supporters. But that's not Hillary's fault and it's not a reason for her to drop out.

Dennis said...

Rob, if you want to get all emotional on me and vote for McCain based on real or imagined slights against your candidate, be my guest. If you want a McCain administration, go ahead, vote for him. But I'm unclear what you'd want me to do? Grovel?

Oh please wise Robert, come back to us, we didn't mean all those things we said!

Wait, wait I'll predict your response: incredibly mean spurious claims about Obama, possibly mean comment about me, sarcasm, sarcasm sarcasm.