FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Great Day for John McCain (and Maybe Nader)

and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

The race for the Democratic nomination now lurches on to what is already being billed as the next major battleground in Pennsylvania on April 22, and any Democrat with any memory of kindred blood lettings in the past should shiver as history begins to repeat itself. After eight disastrous years of Bush, with a candidate like John McCain, who says he knows nothing the economy and thinks the US will be in Iraq for the next 100 years, almost the only way any Democratic nominee can lose the presidential face off in the fall with be a protracted internecine battle, ultimately decided by the Democratic convention in the last week of August.

The press is blaring tidings of a great Clinton comeback in Ohio and Texas last night, both states in which she had twenty point leads in late February. But in terms of delegates Obama is ahead by what appears to be an insurmountable margin. The only way Hillary Clinton can win the nomination is to savage Obama with calumnies, bloodying him to a point where the Clintons can turn make the case to the super delegates in the convention that in a race against McCain Obama has already been fatally wounded.

It’s a course to which the Clinton campaign is now totally committed, exactly along the lines advocated by Mark Penn, Hillary’s pollster and chief strategist. Penn’s policy has been the antithesis of any grand coalition of the kind put together by Roosevelt in the 1930s. Already in south Carolina the Clinton campaign was willing to throw the black vote overboard. In Texas Clinton deliberately exploited Hispanic-black animosities.

Obama has plenty to be rueful about. He managed the astounding feat of being on the defensive in Ohio about trade, at the hands of a Clinton. The history of the late 1980s and 1990s was the Clintons at the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, arguing that the free trade agreements were essential to America’s future. Ohio, devastated by job flight was treated to the spectacle of the Obama campaign failing on this very issue, because Obama shrank from making the full case against what Clinton did to working people in the 1990s. He could have slaughtered the Clinton record on Hillary’s disastrous effort at health care reform, on the trade agreements, on the welfare bill, on the well- documented fact that the people who did well in the Clinton era were the rich. He was too innately cautious to play the populist card and he paid the price.

The adulatory press coverage that Obama enjoyed throughout February took the edge of his campaign and left it flatfooted when Hillary had the effrontery to claim that Obama was the one who had to do the explaibing on NAFTA. Obama was similarly slow to counter Hillary’s decision to play the national security card, telling the voters that the American people would be safe in either her on John McCain’s hands but not those of the young senator.

If Obama could not swiftly counter by pointing out that Clinton bought the Bush line on the war hook, line and sinker, doing no independent checking of her own, then his prospects of standing up to McCain don’t look too rosy. A campaign has to be ready to throw mud and there’s mud by the barrow load for Obama to throw at Clinton but in the end she was the one who put him on the defensive.

In 1968 the antiwar forces came to the convention in Chicago fired with the sense that their candidates, Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, had crushed Hubert in the primaries. But just as Richard Daley’s police battered the protesters, so too did the party machine crush the antiwar forces and force Hubert Humphrey down their throats inside the convention hall. Humphrey was never able to reunite the fractured party and lost to Richard Nixon.

In 1972 the party bosses never accepted George McGovern, who finally accepted the nomination at three am in Miami and was sabotage by the Democrats and the AFL-CIO and crushed by Nixon in the fall.

Not learning from this, the Democrats saw Teddy Kennedy launch an insurgency against Jimmy Carter in 1980 which spluttered all the way to the convention, where Kennedy refused to concede and drew blood from Carter until the bitter end. A weakened Carter went down before Reagan in a terrible rout for the Democrats.

The Clintons have never been confused their own political fortunes with those of the Democratic Party. In 1996 and 1998 Bill Clinton refused to release campaign surpluses from his own war chest to help elect Democrats to the House and the Senate. Obama’s campaign has most certainly rallied blacks and the young to the Democratic Party. These new recruits will surely melt away as they see the party machine grind the politics of hope in the dirt.

McCain couldn’t have hoped for a better day.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

December 19, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russophobia and the Specter of War
Jonathan Cook
American Public’s Backing for One-State Solution Falls on Deaf Ears
Daniel Warner
1968: The Year That Will Not Go Away
Arshad Khan
Developing Country Issues at COP24 … and a Bit of Good News for Solar Power and Carbon Capture
Kenneth Surin
Trump’s African Pivot: Another Swipe at China
Patrick Bond
South Africa Searches for a Financial Parachute, Now That a $170 Billion Foreign Debt Cliff Looms
Tom Clifford
Trade for Hostages? Trump’s New Approach to China
Binoy Kampmark
May Days in Britain
John Feffer
Globalists Really Are Ruining Your Life
John O'Kane
Drops and the Dropped: Diversity and the Midterm Elections
December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail