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This Week’s ESP

trelawney21.jpgGood Morning, all. It’s time to figure out what the themes of the week are going to be. What buzz words are making your tin-foil antenna twitch, who’s promoting them and why? I’ll go first but jump in at any time.

There has been some noise about the Big Dawg getting too pushy where Obama is concerned. The Newsweek article cited last night quotes unnamed sources that claim to know that Rahm Emannuel and Ted Kennedy have told Bill to sit on his hands and back off. Even Josh Marshall has weighed in on the subject. This was bound to happen because Bill is like the 800 lb. gorilla. His influence can not be underestimated. He left office on a high note and his popularity still hovers around 60%. Not bad for a guy who had to endure the crazy Republican Starr chamber for half of his term. So, naturally, his pronouncements in the race carry enormous weight. And this has been a problem for Obama. Because what the Big Dawg says about him gets automatically magnified.

On the whole, I think that Bill has been correct about Obama but because of who he is, his comments come off looking like a sledge hammer against a modest nail. It’s kinda brutal. No wonder Obama is concerned. I understand Josh’s discomfort with Bill’s campaign style but I come at it a little differently: as long as Bill refrains from openly defending Hillary and as long as he sticks to criticism of her opponents’ policies and rhetoric, it’s fair. And the reason that we want it to remain like this is because, if she gets the nomination, Bill will be an invaluable asset to her against the Republican nominee. Republicans might not have liked Clinton personally, but they respected his talents as a president. Nevertheless, it is in Obama’s interest to get him to shut up and sit down, so expect the Big Dawg to pre-emptively back off of his comments for a few days to take the focus off of himself. The Big Dawg has impeccable timing, a real political genius for the body blow. Obama will never be able to relax while Bill is on the stump. The element of surprise is deadly.

Tweety will continue to hype the talents of the Clintons as political schemers. Jeez, Chris, you make that sound like a *bad* thing.
Sidenote: I’m beginning to understand why MSNBC has become the “place for politics” with Keith Olbermann taking a leading role. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense for a former sportscaster/journalist to see the sports metaphor in a presidential campaign, complete with discussions of strategy, wins/losses, advantages and color commentary. It’s like covering a baseball season or fall football. All that’s missing is some twangy country music singer’s theme song: “Are you ready for some stump speech?” It’s a great way to cover the race and the Saturday night show was a politcal junky’s dream. C-Span is thorough but commentary is a bit dry.

I’d just like to remind MSNBC that women like politics too, especially this year. Shuster’s and Scarborough’s defense of Tweety’s misogynistic tendencies are not going to win over this demographic. That’s not to say it has to feminize the graphics or add female analysts who don’t have anything pithy to say but there’s no need to consciously or unconsciously antagonize us either. Kudos to whoever hired Rachel Maddow on as a political consultant (But if you give her Tucker’s show, that would be even better). She’s smart, witty and insightful. That’s the kind of female pundit we want to see. More of that will draw more women in.

There’s been a lot of chatter recently about a Clinton/Obama ticket as a way to unite the Democratic party. If I were to guess, I’d say this had it’s genesis at a Villager cocktail party because it sounds like a potential trainwreck. Here’s why: Obama has no intention of coming in second to Hillary. She might be ambitious, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he has the ego of a small planet and the male arrogance to go with it.

But more than that is the issue of political messaging and philosophy. Chris Bowers addressed this issue in More on Choosing a Vice President: Seek Reinforcement, Not Balance. At the present time, Obama is reaching out to Independents and in the process, he is divesting himself of some core Democratic principles, such as shared risk. He’s also seeking to “unify” the country by reaching around, er, out to Republicans to bring them to the negotiating table, blah, blah, blah, kumbaya. Look, we’re all pissed at the Congressional Democrats because that’s EXACTLY what they’ve tried to do the past year and how did that work out? That’s right, it didn’t because the Republicans have discovered that they can be just as effective as a monkeywrench when they’re in the minority. There’s no incentive for them to negotiate as long as they can make us miserable by just saying “No!” It will take a knowledgeable and crafty politician to overcome them. I don’t know if Hillary is that person but she’s got a better shot at it than Obama.

But that’s not the main reason why there shouldn’t be a Clinton/Obama ticket. The main reason is that it weakens the top of the ticket. If Obama forced on her as a running mate in the interest of party unity, it would be the equivalent of saddling Nancy Pelosi with Steny Hoyer, another man who behaves like he’s running a parallel caucus. He doesn’t have to take orders from her and the rest of the guys in the room understand this. It is ok to undermine, pursue their own agenda and treat her like a figurehead. It makes her look powerless and that can be fatal for her against a Republican when they ramp up the fear factor. But the political establishment and media can’t help itself when it comes to letting a woman run things. It is a hard habit to break. It *needs* to be broken. So, I propose that *iff* Hillary starts to look like she’s locking up the nomination that we start putting pressure on Obama to step aside and concede graciously. I would like to see Hillary pick her own running mate and not have the guys force one on her. I suspect that that’s a hard thing for Obamaphiles to contemplate but they have to let it be HER decision. SHE needs to be in charge. And in the interest of party *strength*, Obama can put his two cents in but in the end has to support whatever she decides.

Which candidate has the edge going into South Carolina? If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that Obama had the most to benefit from the recent race wars and disaffecting Clinton from a strong constituency in that state. I’m not going to say who started the race war but I doubt that the outcome was one that Clinton hoped for.

Nevertheless, half of the population is female, even half of the African-American population. And it is starting to look like Clinton is capturing a significant majority of them. It’s hard to say who is really at the bottom of the pecking order in this country but it’s not like the question hasn’t been probed before. John Lennon and Yoko Ono took on the concept nearly forty years ago.

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