Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who Can Do for 2009?

By far the most elegant irony in the current Democratic race for Prez is the mangling of the hope v. experience arguments. Hillary Clinton has been hoping she can stay vital in this contest; Barack Obama is showing his expertise and experience in handling a difficult person and her attacks.

Taking the cues from two worthwhile pop-psychology books, there is a delicious reversal of stereotypical roles that many MSM and blogger sorts have noted. Barack Obama has the more clich├ęd feminine role of urging cooperation and almost UU togetherness. Hillary Clinton in firm, very firm, contrast does the supposedly male thing of confronting and talking tough on everything from Congress to war.

Just-in-case note: If you somehow avoided the gender-communication topics, consider the seminal books Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray and You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation by Deborah Tannen. The latter is much beefier. Not only does Tannen conceal the massive academic research supporting her writing, she provides specific how-to-fix-it info you can use.

In last night's probably last debate for the odd couple, both reprised those roles. The consensus this morning is clearly that Obama's style played better. Clinton must look now to her residual goodwill from her maybe-still-committed voter pools in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Therein lies another veneer of irony on the race. Clinton started out in early caucus and primary states with strong support from sets such as middle-aged and older white women, Latinos, and union members. The first is an easy identification and transference. The other two are stranger and strained.

Various pontificaters held that she started as the machine candidate. Those who like to swim in the warm, gentle currents of the party mainstream go that way. Plus her husband, ex-Prez Bill Clinton, had considerable cred in Latino and union households. So, she should have had more ward healers and workers who could get people to vote and vote the right way.

For unions, given her privileged background, it's hard to see the association and trust. Her grandparents, to be sure, came from Welsh and British coal mining families. However, in this country, her father quickly made a success in textile wholesaling. She grew up in a conservative, management-not-worker home. From there to tennis lessons, debate team, Wellesley and Yale. She is decidedly a mortar board and tiara lady, not a hardhat or housedress woman.

In colleges, she reinvented herself as a sort-of lefty. Many do that and there should be acknowledgment of such positive evolution.

So we come to the March 4th proving grounds. Da Hill has steadily lost poll positions to da Bam. Sadly, much of that was predictable just from Obama's string of victories. ...rats and sinking ships, cockroaches in the sudden light...

The blowhards all seem to agree that she absolutely needs to come on top in Ohio and Texas, and ideally would sweep the four states next week to counter Obama's relentless march. Where they differ is how likely her former support groups will be to stay with her in these four. To this particular blowhard, Ohio's union vote and Texas' women's will be a life preserver or anvil tossed to the foundering Clinton.

She's low on battle strategies too. Her confrontational and often hypocritical attacks in the past few weeks have not swung polls her way. She has too many small and large personal liabilities to point out Obama's real and imagined ones. Also, he's such a blend of smart, articulate and pleasant, it's like she's trying to stuff the teddy bear into the garbage disposal.

On the other hand, Obama's deflecting and benefiting from her hostility speaks well of his ability to do the same when the McCain forces go after him. In this too, Clinton seems to be unintentionally undermining herself.

I'm often wrong picking election winners. I haven't totally buried her candidacy. I have the shovel in hand though.

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