Adam Nagourney of the New York Times just posted his column from tomorrow analyzing "the factors and developments that undercut her candidacy, some self-inflicted, others inflicted upon her." It’s truly one of the dumbest pieces of political punditry I’ve seen in this election, and it takes a lot to say that. Amazingly, Nagourney explains Clinton’s loss without ever mentioning her vote on the war in Iraq, the incompetence of Mark Penn and her campaign staff, the strength of Obama’s candidacy, or the brilliance of the Obama’s campaign strategy.
To rate each reason Nagourney gives, I’ve created the NSI: the New York Times Stupidity Index, with a rating from 1 to 10 (10 being stupidest) of how dumb these reasons are.
Nagourney begins with the "timing of the Edwards endorsement" after Clinton’s West Virginia win. Considering that the election was over long before John Edwards figured out which way the wind was blowing, this is a bizarre reason to start off a column about Clinton’s loss.
NSI: 10 (out of 10)
- Nagourney cites Michigan and Florida, claiming that Clinton’s likely (inevitable?) victories there would have given her a boost going into Super Tuesday if they had counted for half-delegates as the Republicans did. That’s not too persuasive: if Obama had competed in Michigan and Florida, he would have done better there, and remember that this is an expectations game above all else. Michigan and Florida also would have stretched Clinton’s weak financial position.
- The Drudge Report. According to Nagourney, "bad news about the Clinton campaign got extensive attention" on the Drudge Report, after an October NYTimes report on how the Clinton campaign was working with Drudge. This is nonsense. The Drudge Report is a playground for bad reporters, not a major influence on how people vote. Clinton got bad news on the website because her campaign was failing, not because of Drudge blowback.
- The Tipping Scandal. Nagourney blames a false NPR report that Clinton had stiffed a waiter on a tip for "feeding the image of Mrs. Clinton as entitled and imperious." Oh, please. Did anyone pay any attention to this piece of crap story?
- Immigrants Behind the Wheel. This may be the only real effect identified by Nagourney. When Clinton waffled on the question about Spitzer and immigrant driver’s licenses, she looked a lot like her husband. This was not very important in itself, but it mattered because the media finally realized that she might not be inevitable.
- The Return of Joe Trippi. Nagourney claims that under Trippi "the pitch of the Edwards campaign instantly turned more populist and tougher, and took aim at Mrs. Clinton." Edwards did become more populist, but Edwards never really went very negative, and he also took aim at Obama (especially on health care). Edwards’ populist ploy pushed progressive votes away from Obama, so I can’t see any real harm to Clinton here.
- Bill Clinton. According to Nagourney, "It seems hard to argue that Mr. Clinton was anything but a net negative for Mrs. Clinton overall." That’s utter nonsense. Virtually every poll has shown that voters were more likely to vote for Hillary because of Bill. The problem was that everyone expected Bill to be a huge positive for Hillary, and instead his flubs greatly reduced the positive value he provided.
- Planted Questions and False Rumors. Nagourney: "It is hard to exaggerate how much damage Mrs. Clinton suffered from two things that her supporters got busted for doing...." No, it’s not hard to exaggerate, because Nagourney does wildly exaggerate it. The story about planted questions lasted barely a day and disappeared, and nobody really blamed Clinton for a few supporters who pushed the bigoted emails about Obama that roam around the internet like mosquitos.
Altogether, these eight reasons mark some of the most inexplicably trivial and stupid explanations of why Hillary Clinton lost. But most of all, they ignore the key reason: Obama is the better candidate. Unfortunately, if this is the kind of political analysis we have to look forward to from the mainstream press this year, it will require us to push the real truth told by alternative media. You couldn’t trust the New York Times when it was pretending that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so why you would trust the New York Times pretending that Clinton’s vote for war didn’t hurt her campaign?