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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

 
There Won't Be Blood

by digby


For those of you who would like a little historical perspective on hard fought primaries, this article in Slate might help everyone relax a little bit as we face more trench warfare:

Like the calls for Al Gore to concede the presidency to George Bush in November 2000, this anxiety about the imagined consequences of a protracted fight misreads both history and the calendar. In 2000, pundits seemed not to know that contested elections in previous years—notably the 1960 race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon—remained officially unresolved until barely a month before Inauguration Day, and so they talked as if each hour of uncertainty brought the republic nearer to doom.

The calls to wrap up the Democratic primary race show a similar amnesia. To suggest that March 5 marks a late date in the calendar ignores the duration of primary seasons past. Indeed, were Hillary Clinton to have pulled out of the race this week, Obama would have actually clinched a contested race for the party's nomination earlier than almost any other Democrat since the current primary system took shape—the sole exception being John Kerry four years ago. Fighting all the way through the primaries, in other words, is perfectly normal. read on

I was going to bring this up earlier, but decided to wait and see what happened yesterday. One of the most pernicious things the media did in 2000 was constantly evoke the hysterical notion that if the election wasn't decided immediately that the streets would run with blood and the nation would fall into chaos. It ended up creating the illusion that deadlines were more important than the principle of counting all the votes and influenced the legal cases that eventually decided the outcome. There is no reason to panic about elections.

Humans are still voting and the party as an institution hasn't made up its mind. There is no shortage of money, both candidates provide some fascination to the media and until the party decides, they will remain moving targets for the Republicans. After all, they can't settle on a narrative until one of the candidates is chosen. One of the upsides of the two candidates we have is that while they are very similar on policy, traditional GOP attacks will have to be tailored differently. If McCain is forced to campaign against them on the issues, which is what they have in common, he loses. On the issues, Democrats win.

It remains my opinion that the Democrats will win this election handily. National security is no longer the most salient political issue (the Cry Wolf syndrome may have finally kicked in) and the economy is going into crisis mode. Bush and the social conservatives went too far and have been (temporarily) discredited. I do not feel that we are in any great danger of losing. (My biggest concerns are what is going to happen once we win it, not whether we will win it.)

That's not to say that the Republicans aren't going to wage a fight. They are likely to wage a truly nasty one, since they know they aren't likely to win and so have nothing to lose. John McCain will never run for president again --- he might as well go out in a blaze of glory doing as much damage to the new Democratic president as he can. (It's how they win by losing --- create so much noise and dissonance that the Democrat can't govern.)

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary goes on for a while and the two candidates are going to find themselves in deeper waters. That's the way it often works. It's almost never fatal to the party's chances in November, particularly when it's in the strong position the Dems are in today. Don't buy the media hype. They have a vested interest in making this seem more dramatic than it is --- ratings.



Update: I know there's little point in again trying to convince people that this primary has not been particularly brutal (although it's probably going to get worse before it's over) perhaps Governor Dean could soothe everyone a little bit:

MATTHEWS: OK, you‘re on offense, but you don‘t believe that the Republicans are picking up useful material in these weeks of combat between Clinton and Obama.

DEAN: I can‘t imagine that what we‘re seeing now between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, yes, is anything but a—a tea party compared to what the general election‘s going to be like in the fall.

MATTHEWS: Well, since you hesitate to call this quits, here the ABC poll and “The Washington Post” poll that‘s come out, and it shows that that two thirds of the voters, basically, believe that the race should continue on. So I guess you‘re with the voters. I thought you wanted this thing to end. I was misinformed.

DEAN: It‘s always better to be with the voters. And I...

MATTHEWS: I‘m being sarcastic, Governor.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: When I get sarcastic is I smile because I do think you want this thing to end and clean it up and have a nominee and move on to attack McCain, which is what you‘re already doing.

DEAN: If we get—well, we‘re certainly going to do that. But if we could, have a nominee before the convention, that would be helpful. But we‘ve got a long way to go between now and the convention.

MATTHEWS: Are there any rules that are being broken? The Republicans have this “11th Commandment” that Reagan sort of codified. Is there anything that‘s improper in the way you‘ve watched this campaign? Is either side, Clinton or Obama, getting a little too dirty for you?

DEAN: Chris, four years ago, my opponents got together and had a political action committee, all four of which contributors contributed to the thing, which morphed me into Osama bin Laden. So this is pattycake. This is a tough campaign between two well—well-spoken, smart people, either of whom is capable of being president of the United States. But this is not, by and large, out of bounds.



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