Saturday, April 12, 2008

Uniting the divide and the making of kings 

Today, while on a run through Princeton, I noticed that somebody had tacked up signs on telephone poles at key intersections: "Unite the Divide: Draft Gore." My main thought was to wonder if this were the natural denouement of identity politics.

The Democrats have spent the last forty years building a coalition around the idea that group identity not only does matter, but that it ought to matter. This year it would appear that Democratic identity politics has reached its apotheosis, insofar as the two standing candidates of the party are a black man and a woman. The result? In a liberal college town in one of the two or three most Democratic states in the country, the activists want a fat, wealthy, white man to "unite the divide."

There is another version of this story, in which the old white men choose, rather than putting the matter to a vote. That seems to be the next grand plan to rescue the donks:

DEMOCRAT grandees Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are being lined-up to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce to Hillary Clinton and end her campaign to become president....

Former president Carter and former vice-president Gore have already held high-level discussions about delivering the message that she must stand down for the good of the Democrats.

"They're in discussions," a source close to Carter told Scotland on Sunday. "Carter has been talking to Gore. They will act, possibly together, or in sequence."

An appeal by both men for Democrats to unite behind Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, would have a powerful effect, and insiders say it is a question of when, rather than if, they act.

So let me get this straight. Jimmy Carter, who would not dream of telling murdering thugs such as Yassir Arafat or Khaled Meshal to "stand down," is going to furrow his brow and in his Nobellish wisdom advise Hillary Rodham Clinton that she needs to back off? And he is going to be backed up in this by Al Gore, who tried to litigate his way into the presidency rather than "stand down"?

What a sad joke of an arrogant idea this is.


By Blogger Escort81, at Sat Apr 12, 11:51:00 PM:

Yes, it is rich with many layers of irony. Recall also how Carter dealt with the Ted Kennedy insurgency in 1980 -- Teddy won 10 primaries against a sitting POTUS from his own party, running to Carter's left (there was more room to his left 28 years ago; now, not so much.)

I don't fully understand the reluctance of any number of Democrats to see the primary campaign process play out, and have the nominee determined by the rules the party has previously set forth. Is it really that damaging to the party? Is it that damaging to either candidate, as compared to the benefit to the electorate that we learn more about the candidates? Won't either candidate have gobs more money to campaign with than McCain, no matter how drawn out the nominating process? Isn't this all part of the vetting process in the U.S. system, for better or worse, that the campaign can be long and that, possibly, a series of unforced errors can tip the scales either way? What is the burning desire for a Deus ex Machina?

Speaking of unforced errors in a campaign, it's possible that in 1976 Ford could have come all the way back against Carter and actually won, had it not been for his bad debate performance in the second debate, and resulting loss of momentum, when Ford blundered about there being no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. I remember watching the debate live during my senior year of HS, and looking at my mother, with cousins in Budapest, just shaking her head with incredulity. So Carter knows about unforced errors and how campaigns can swing on such moments.

Maybe we should switch to the U.K. parliamentary system and have a PM call for a vote (among pre-determined party leaders) when he or she feels like it, and do so on a pretty short calendar. Not.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 13, 12:14:00 AM:

For a party that's supposedly all about enfranchisement, the Democrats are pretty enthusiastic about mandating an end to this contest.

And if they do, all those Hillary supporters are going to be even MORE pissed off than if she had simply lost the contest fair and square. The results (though not necessarily the victory) will have been stolen from them, quite literally. And *AL GORE* will have been responsible. Hah!

I hope they do it.

The McCain campaign is going to have a ball this autumn.  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Sun Apr 13, 12:40:00 AM:

Is anybody else sensing a trend here?

Hillary wins primaries in states that cannot be counted because of previously agreed-to rules. So the Dems are planning on changing the rules.

Pelosi gets handed a Columbia Free Trade deal that by the rules has to be voted on within 90 days. So she changes the rules.

I think I would trust a party that writes their rules in ink more than one who writes their rules in chalk...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 13, 12:03:00 PM:

While I do not foresee a profound split or fracture in the Democrat party, a not-insignificant number of people around the fringes are going to be alienated and either sit out the election or possibly (gasp) vote for McCain. People that could be called "Lieberman Democrats"; conscious of national security issues (Carter meeting with Hamas? Get real.), not quite as Progressive as the Obama crowd, and maybe just enough of the "ethnics" that are white to not want to support Obama. Carter and Gore do not carry as much heft with a lot of main line Democrats as they may think they do.

I know for a fact that many of my Democrat, white, "ethnic" in-laws (in Ohio) do not particularly like black people (to put it mildly); this is the sin that cannot be publicly named. And sadly, the election may swing on this profound negative.


By Blogger Escort81, at Sun Apr 13, 05:50:00 PM:

David -

I am sorry to hear that your Ohio in-laws "do not particularly like black people (to put it mildly)."

There are any number of good reasons why a citizen may decide not to vote for Obama in the general election in November (assuming, as appears likely, that he is the nominee), but the amount of melanin in his skin is not one of them.

I agree with the use of the word "sadly" in your final sentence.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 13, 07:13:00 PM:

Yes, it is sad in this day and age.

Being a Republican, I'm stereotyped as the bad white person by many people. I have more than a few friends who are black (two very close ones, as a matter of fact), yet being a Democrat gets you an automatic pass in these areas.

I think Barack Obama is an articulate and intelligent man; I just don't buy his crypto-Marxist prescriptions for America. Period.

The same "in laws" will eagerly vote for Hillary Clinton (who I consider a very bad person, frankly) and virtually the same agenda.
So it goes.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 13, 07:15:00 PM:

"There are any number of good reasons why a citizen may decide not to vote for Obama in the general election in November (assuming, as appears likely, that he is the nominee), but the amount of melanin in his skin is not one of them."

That ought to work in reverse as well, but legions of blacks will (and already have, in the primaries) choose Obama for that very reason. There's not even the excuse of shared culture or history, given his unique family history.

Behold human nature.  

By Blogger Andrew X, at Sun Apr 13, 07:19:00 PM:

I'm still working on how to factor this in with my unassailable knowldege that Jimmy Carter is a polar star of policymaking.

WhatEVER he is an advocate of, you can be certain that the opposite is the way to go, and get going there with all due dispatch.

So if he wants Hillary out, America MUST be better off with her in. I'm not certain how, but my compass has never failed me yet.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Sun Apr 13, 09:20:00 PM:

DF82 -

You make a good point, that my statement ought to work in reverse, but currently does not, with Obama pulling 90+% of the AA vote in any primary. It is worth adding, however, that as recently as late 2007, before Iowa, Hillary was outpolling Obama in the AA community nationally -- he had not yet established his "viability" -- that he could actually win the nomination. Iowa changed that.

It would be interesting to see what would have happened if Powell had run in 1996 against Bill Clinton, and what the split of the AA vote would have been.

druu222 -

Your analysis reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry tells George to "do the opposite" of whatever his instincts tell him. In the quantitative arena, this is called a "perfectly negatively correlated" forecasting system.  

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