THE BLOG
06/14/2007 03:19 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary's Race to Lose

I don't have a dog in the race, and voted "other" in the MyDD poll. But I gotta tell you, this race is Hillary Clinton's to lose at this point. I wish to be wrong, and see Obama or Edwards get the nomination, but I honestly don't see it happening from this vantage point, and it's very frustrating. The Edwards candidacy was a longshot to begin with, and that he is still in it points toward how sound a strategy (combined with the luck of having Fiengold & Warner drop out), that he laid out; the frustration is more directed at Obama because he has the opportunity to lay claim with what's grown in the netroots this decade and hasn't grasped it at all, and it shows.

It's not about the dumping of Obama by the former contributor to Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg; or the very huge endorsement by Nevada State Sen. Dina Titus of Clinton; or even her latest surge in the polls.

No, it's the fake self-proclaimed "movement" that exhausts me of Obama. I say fake, not because "movement for change" and "building a movement" are such vacuous slogans, but because the continual touting of having such a movement in the Obama campaign email slog is a sure-as-heck signal that there really isn't a substantive movement behind the numbers.

In Obama latest, he sent me an email titled, "What a movement looks like?" His campaign probably didn't notice the slip, but it's an obvious truth--that adding that "?" in the title. Maybe, he thinks, he's in one... maybe not... who can tell?  He wouldn't have a clue, I'm beginning to think-- that the campaign really doesn't know what a movement is made up of and are fumbling in the dark amidst their media-created momentum (which is getting primed to turn on its creation). And who's got Obama's back when the media does turns on its creation? The netroots doesn't; he's never aligned with the existing movement that began with Dean in '02, swelled for Wesley Clark in '03, led Dean to the DNC Chair and propelled the Hackett and Lamont candidacies, leading to the surge of activists voting for Democrats in '06.

I was never under the illusion that Mark Warner would be a 'movement' candidate, but as a progressive and partisan Democrat he would engage this movement and work to win alongside us. And instead of the potential of a candidacy with Hillary that would not help red-state Democrats (to put it nicely), with Warner, we would have a map-changer that could win 40 states. I liked Obama's candidacy for a couple of months after Warner dropped out. I was encouraged by his message, even doing a very favorable post about it that got the Edwards partisans up in arms. Sure, Obama can't win 40 states, but he is not going to be a liability either, so why not.

At the time, I said that I would do a follow-up to the 'message' post-- to talk about the 'movement' that seemed to swelling around Obama. I mentioned it, started writing it, but that post was never done, because I never found anything real about Obama's movement. I looked into Obama's candidacy, very interested, then began to be skeptical, and now completely dismiss the notion that there's a movement behind Obama. It's looks like a better-than-ordinary campaign for a candidate that's personally compelling, and not much more. It is not a movement, but a candidate. It's about Obama, and nothing more. He's got numbers in the same way that Coke or Pepsi have consumers; supporters in the same way that Bono and the Dixie Chicks have fans. But this is partisan politics, and Obama will not survive the rightwing machine's onslaught without a strategy that includes internet partisanship.

And then there's just the part of me that sees right through parts of the game going on here. Since January 30th, I've gotten 17 emails from Barack Obama or David Plouffe hyping it up with the word "movement" in one or another part of each of those emails. Yea, David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, fresh off of directing Gephardt's compelling '04 movement, a principle in the media firm of David Axelrod-- the one responsible for storing up as much Obama cash as possible for as many ad buys and expenditures done through his and Axelrod's media firm. Plouffe is probably a good team player that signs off on being the obligatory signature for the email, but Movement Organizer, heh. Enjoy the 2nd quarter push for cash, it's the only part of the Obama movement that's real.

Maybe I'm completely on the outside here, and Barack Obama, with Plouffe and thousands of others, are really creating an independent feel-good movement. One that has nothing to do with the fighting partisan netroots; so there's no way I would grasp it, much less feel a part of it, and I'll be sideswiped in surprise at Obama's victories. Maybe, but I doubt it. Obama's running a well-funded, traditional presidential campaign that's safely pointed toward finishing a strong second based on his personal appeal. I can see Obama getting a lot of points in the game, but never the lead.

Edwards could still win the nomination, but it looks like a real longshot now, and the fading in the polls nationally is not a good omen. He needed to run a perfect campaign, with no self-induced mistakes, and it's not been that way at all. The haircut, hedgefund, and house as a trifecta of rightwing ammo has hurt his credibility on the signature issue of poverty. I'm not buying into the faux meme that is aimed at Edwards, campaigns are not fair, and those decisions were mistakes that didn't need to happen, especially just when it seemed his campaign was gaining momentum. There's still hope for Edwards if he pulls out a hat trick in the first three states, but that is one hell of a task. I give Edwards credit, because he does understand the terrain for '08 much better than Obama.

It's ludicrous that some point toward the outreach and early partnership that Edwards has done with the blogging community and the netroots in the same manner that a candidate reaches out to an issue base group, and and argue from there that Obama doesn't kowtow to such groups. First of all, that's bs, he does plenty of pandering and is very ordinary in that regard; but more fundamentally, this is the base of the Democratic party's rapid response team. The issue is combating the rightwing machine in unison with Democratic candidates, but you can't partner with a candidate that not inclined to join the partisan progressive movement. In all those emails, Obama has never once even associated with the word Democrat or Democratic, not mentioning either word even once. Edwards and Clinton do. Whose nomination is Obama running for?

There is an Obama that could be the partisan leader that builds with the netroots-blogger movement, but it's not his current campaign; and there is an Edwards campaign that's struggling to remain close to the pole; but here we are, seven months out, and only the potential of Al Gore jumping into the race seems standing in the way of Clinton getting the nomination. Otherwise, get prepared to accept Hillary.

Originally posted at mydd.com