Even as Hillary Clinton and her aides begin the official effort to rally around Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is circulating past attacks on Obama from the Clinton Campaign. Is this the cost of the long, sharp primary that worried so many Democrats? A new RNC press release urges reporters to recall that senior Clinton adviser Harold Ickes once completely wrote off Obama -- it even comes with a YouTube recording. "The fact is -- he is not going to be able to win the general election against John McCain," says Ickes. But if this is the best pushback Republicans can do during Unity Week, they're in for a long campaign.
Ickes, a hardscrabble strategist who has worked for Democratic figures from Gene, Ted and Jesse to Bill and Hill, is well known for his decisive declarations. (See his testimony at last weekend's DNC meeting, for example.) In fact, Ickes issued a similarly gloomy forecast for his own boss, Hillary Clinton, when speculating on her prospects in 2004. "I'm one of the few in the semi--inner circle who don't think she can win," he told Time. "It would be a brutal, bruising fight. It would make this year's race look like kindergarten," he added. (Now if Ickes just declares that McCain can't win, all the bases will be covered.) For the record, Ickes has already begun walking back his remarks, stressing on Tuesday that Obama can indeed win:
Anything that I said regarding that [Obama] could not win, and anything following from that, was a misstatement[...] I've been saying to superdelegates all along that I think that Obama can win...
And who cares about a losing campaign's predictions about an opponent losing, anyway? Very few people, I'd bet, which makes this one of the few benefits of our strategy-saturated campaign discourse. The RNC is trying to drudge up an intraparty "attack," but it sounds more like warmed-over punditry. And if the upset victories of this year's nominees prove anything, it's that voters still exhibit a healthy resistance to the pundits' emphasis on polls, strategy and electoral predictions.
Photo credit: Acaben