December 14, 2006

"Will Hillzilla Crush Obambi?"

What is it about the '08 presidential season that is making Maureen Dowd's nicknames seem funny -- instead of annoying -- all of a sudden? (TimesSelect link.)

And then there's that verb -- "crush" -- a word that, around here, launched a thousand hissy fits... and reminds me to remind you to toss another vote into the roiling cauldron of spite that is the "Best Centrist Blog" contest.

But enough about me, back to Maureen. Sorry if you can't get to the column. Basically, she notes that everyone's asking "Which would be a greater handicap in a presidential bid, gender or race?" and that the standard quipsters response is that it will depend "on how manly the woman, and how white the black." But:
Hillary hasn’t waited this long and market-tested this assiduously for nothing. Obambi’s message may be mushy communitarianism — we’re a crazy quilt and why can’t we all get along? — but her message is simply the Divine Right of Clintons
So the real question is "whether he’s tough and she’s genuine."

40 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

Of course Hillary isn't genuine. It is silly for Dowd to even suggest that. Hillary is one of the most controlled, scripted, politicians out there. But I fail to see why that is an issue. Indeed, I would probably prefer someone as controlled as she, as opposed to her husband who seems to have no self control whatsoever.

The better question would be whether Hillary was honest. And there is no indication that she has discovered any sort of morality, other than winning at any cost, since moving out of the White House. The problem is that she has nearing a 30 year history of venality, including abuse of power and extremely questionable financial dealings.

Rush had a clip Wed. of Dowd and Obama, with Obama telling her that he is sensitive about his ears, and she responding that they were trying to toughen him up. Big mistake on his part - my guess is that his ears in political cartoons are going to grow a bit as a result, with that becoming part of his cartoon personality (or, maybe you will be able to tell whether a cartoon is conservatively oriented or PC correct, based on whether his ears are emphasized or deemphasized).

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

They each suffer the same predominant weakness in their quest for the presidency -- they are inexperienced Senators.

Senators have entirely the wrong skill set to be good Presidents: a focus ond wrangling details and the placement of commas.

We are all still influenced by Kennedy, but who was the only other Senator to win the Presidency in the 20th Century. Warren Harding.

Most Presidents, especially in the last four generations or so, have been governors or generals. In other words, they are used to executive administration.

Leaving out everyone's politics, Condi Rice ('doubly handicapped' by race and gender ... aw c'mon) is much more qualified for the White House than either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama by dint of her experience running a large university as well as the State Department.

In the world emerging before us, I care much more about a President's executive experience and core principles than I do about the specifics of their putative policy proposals.

Pogo said...

Obama came to our little down just days before the recent elections, to pump up the Dem faithful. The arena is right near my house, and I walk by it every day on my way home. I passed by and looked in, knowing he was there.

The term "Rock star" was said alot by people I knew there. It did seem a bit like the 1970s and Donny Osmond was onstage.

He's handsome and seems like a nice guy. Oh, and black. People were in love.

Said Rita Hayworth: "They go to bed with Gilda, and they wake up with Rita."

Bruce Kratofil said...

"but who was the only other Senator to win the Presidency in the 20th Century. Warren Harding."

Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many...."

His immediate job was VP, but he was Senate Majority Leader

Goesh said...

Obambi is right - a good rap he has and surely there are some here who have done some heavy rapping in their time, but with no experience, all he has is pretty words. Good grief! Another Liberal poster child they want to send into the harsh violence of the ME, the vicious realm of Asian economics and rotting Europe to la-la-la them all with pretty words, empathy and notions of fair play and good intentions. Weeping Jesus! I'm moving to Mongolia if he gets the nod.

Anonymous said...

What is it about the '08 presidential season that is making Maureen Dowd's nicknames seem funny -- instead of annoying -- all of a sudden?

Shorter Vote for Me Centrist Althouse: Har Har, Dhimmicraps are teh dum!

Art said...

I've got a wacky idea. Let's have a series of elections stretching over a period of months. Since they come before the big election we could call them "primaries". We could see which candidate gets the most votes and let them have the Nomination!

Simon said...

Bruce,
Three points, though: first, Johnson was elected on a tide of national grief for a slain President. How much of that vote was "for" Johnson is a matter of some debate. Second, as you point out, Johnson had been Vice President; if we include people who have served in Congress before being elected President, just to take the last century, you'd have to include Truman (Senator from Missouri before becoming veep), Nixon (Representative and Senator from Califonia before becoming veep) and George H.W. Bush (Representative from Texas before going on to greater things). And lastly, of course, Johnson was a terrible President anyway, and so probably doesn't serve as the best model!

The Exalted said...

modo is about as banal and self absorbed as they get

is it too soon to start talking about obama's earth tone suits?? i can't wait!!

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Troy said...

Exalted beat me to the punch a bit. My very first question was "Maureen Dowd is still alive?"

Jake said...

Bruce is right. Senators cannot win the Presidency.

A Senator has to run on his record, and the record of a Senator is never pretty. They make tactical votes that make them look very foolish in isolation.

Senators have made speeches to countless special interest groups and every speech contradicts what they said before a different group. Pick the right two speeches and the Senator looks like a raving lunatic. In addition, a left-wing senator has had less administrative experience than a night manager at a local McDonalds.

Henry said...

Jake - A Senator has to run on his record, and the record of a Senator is never pretty.

That's the genius of Obama. Is it too soon for him to run for president? No! Any longer would be too long.

It's the Kennedy approach. Run for Senate, run for president. Show up for your Senatorial work only if you can't avoid it.

Bart, I would correct you on one thing -- Clinton, by now, is an experienced senator. That's an advantage for Obama.

Tim said...

John F. Kennedy was elected from the U.S. Senate to the Presidency.

George H.W. Bush never served in the U.S. Senate.

Regardless, the prospective slates from both parties are extremely distressing; if the combatants in the war on terror were publicly traded stocks, I'd sell West and buy Jihadi. We've rough times ahead of us, and all we can do is snipe at each other.

Anthony said...

I have to admit, I've never actually made it through a Dowd column in its entirety. Even when it seemed that I agreed with what she was saying, it was too difficult wading through all the cutesy dreck. Every paragraph I found myself thinking "What are you trying to say?"

Hamsun56 said...

I agree with the posts about the difficulty of a senator running for President. That's why it makes sense for Obama to make a move now, before he has a difficult record to defend or starts talking like a senator.

My guess is that he ultimately will try to be the VP candidate. But then the ticket will have to be topped with someone with more experience. Ideally, for the Democrats, a white southern male with military experience. No one comes readily to mind.

Coco said...

"Ideally, for the Democrats, a white southern male with military experience."

Wesley Clark? Arkansas man - plenty of military experience - huge amount of executive experience (NATO's a pretty big oprganization).

He certainly fits the bill. But he's not winning the presidency. But he'd make a pretty good VP candidate for Obama. I think most people who are not party devotees or otherwise ideologically committed vote with their gut - in a nutshell, which candidate do they like and trust more. People certainly like Obama - its the trust factor he needs to work on. Not the trust factor that Hillary has to work on - i.e., "do I think you are transparent and honest" as exemplified by Bruce Haden's Hillary opinion, but the "do I trust you to make big decisions about me and my country" type of analysis.

If he can get through the primary - a big if - someone like Clark as a VP would probably help him considerably in that regard. While Democrat candidates have tended to pick a VP for regional pull purposes, it hasn't seemed to help them - neither Edwards nor Gore made much of a difference in N.C. or Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember that the press has given us midterm coronations before, and that before a year had passed they weren't "news" anymore and the laurels passed them by.

Zeb Quinn said...

The primary season for presidential candidates will tell the tale. Would-be candidates look good, all postured and preened before it starts, then once it does it all falls apart on them, like Howard Dean in Iowa. Neither Hillary or Obama have run that kind of gauntlet before. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

It is not about race and gender, it is about ideas and personality. Obama SEEMS to have a fairly intact and attractive personality. I do not care for the ideas of either, and would not vote for them because of that. I think Obama would be the stronger candidate, but then that is an outsider's opinion.

Trey

Schuft said...

bart hall said
We are all still influenced by Kennedy, but who was the only other Senator to win the Presidency in the 20th Century. Warren Harding.

As others have pointed out, LBJ went from the Senate to the Vice Presidency and then to the Presidency.

Richard Nixon also served in the Senate before his 1960 Presidential campaign.

Going farther back, Truman served in the Senate before being selected for the Vice Presidency in '44.

SteveR said...

Pogo: "The term "Rock star" was said alot by people I knew there. It did seem a bit like the 1970s and Donny Osmond was onstage."

Yeah the problem for Obama, like Donny Osmond, is getting something beyond the good looks and screamong fans. As we know, Donny was no Rock Star.

Senators do things like vote for stuff before voting against it. Kerry was perfectly comfortable with his explanation which by necessity sounded stupid.

dearieme said...

"We are all still influenced by Kennedy": I'm baffled. He was a dud President - why would that pre-dispose you to vote for another Senator?

Zeb Quinn said...

Yes there are Presidents who at one time or another in their careers served in the Senate. Hey, Andrew Johnson served in the Senate both before and after his Presidency. But these things aren't the critical aspect here. What's critical is that there are very few --and none since JFK 46 years ago-- who went directly from the Senate to the Presidency. The political landscape is littered with the bodies of Senators (Representatives too for that matter) who aspired to the Presidency but failed. Voters don't want to vote for them. You'd think that the Senators who want it would figure it out, and go home and run for Governor. But the Senate is the World's Most Exclusive Club, and a governorship is a step down in their eyes.

Revenant said...

The likely Republican nominees are McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. I imagine all three's campaign managers are salivating at the prospect of putting their man on stage with an empty shirt like Obama. But I can't see him winning the nomination. It is *very* hard to get nominated if you don't have a lot of connections and favors to call in. Clinton does; Obama doesn't.

Theo Boehm said...

Obama SEEMS to have a fairly intact and attractive personality.

Trey, yes, he appears to be Not Insane.

He should adopt that as a campaign slogan. People have forgotten Pat Paulsen in '68, so it's OK to use again.

Being Not Insane will differentiate you immediately from almost every person who has ever sought the Presidency. It may not be enough, though. Mitt Romney is also Not Insane. He's merely a boring hypocrite. Neither Insane Nor a Boring Hypocrite looks bad on a bumper sticker, so I don't know what to do with it. That's why I'm not a political consultant.

On the other hand, Sen. Clinton may be power-mad, and, Lord knows, her personality is not attractive, but at least she's tough as nails and knows where all the skeletons are buried. Who cares what experience she has as a Senator? That's only her latest gig in a lifetime of preparation for this moment.

Given the chance, I plan to vote for her. She may be batshit crazy, but given the situation, that's probably the best qualification for the office.

Suggested campaign slogan: She's Crazy Enough to Get It Done

Obama? He's merely Not Insane.

The partisan moderate said...

Maureen Dowd is incredibly annoying and juvenile. Anyone, who looks to her for political analysis is making a serious mistake.

This is a quote from her November Meet The Press appearance:

"But I think it’s going to be very tough for him because he and Rummy and Cheney have basically had this “Who’s your daddy?” attitude to the world and the Congress, and they’re used to the executive branch getting more and more and more power. And now they have Nancy Pelosi saying to them, “Who’s your mommy?"

A middle-schooler could have come up with the same analysis and would have probably described it the same way.

Mike said...

CoCo asked: "Ideally, for the Democrats, a white southern male with military experience."

Wesley Clark?
"

He doesn't pass Theo's test.

Paddy O. said...

You'd think that the Senators who want it would figure it out, and go home and run for Governor.

Pete Wilson tried this in California. Taking on the issues made him too much of a target to even run for President.

Todd said...

I miss MoDo. I used to fisk her a lot. Now I'm just to cheap to pony up.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Now, perhaps, to my main point. We can acknowledge that Senators do not make particularly good presidential material -- I just told my Senator Sam Brownback's exploratory committee to fuggedaboudit on that basis -- but let's look at what is essentially the contrapositive.

Postulants for the Presidency also tend to make lousy Senators. All the posturing -- for the tellie and whatever -- really distorts what happens in the Senate.

I for one would propose, perhaps at the level of a Constitutional Amendment, that no candidate for Presidant may have served in the US Senate within the previous 12 years.

Not so much for the Presidency, since we're pretty good at keeping Senators out of it, but for the sake of the Senate.

If those folks are going to serve us, then the Senate needs to be a well-understood dead-end, not a perceived launching pad.

Cousin Don said...

"Is this just how Hillary promotes a running mate?" Is the question the vast right wing conspiracy is asking!

Ernie Fazio said...

I thought this might be an interesting thread to comment on, and then I read the first comment--"Rush had a clip on..." Rush, Rush this is supposed to be a centrist blog.

Could we just agree that L'Althouse is a persona that has gotten out of hand. Ann Althouse is an accopmplished, incisive law professor who has skewered the pontifications of many a faux-lefty law student. But l'Althouse, in skewering the haughty left, has attracted people who refer to Rush as a source regarding Hillary Clinton. That is like quoting James Dobson on Darwin.

Professor, I know you have no control over who occupies your blogspace, but do you really feel comfortable with such hatred of a first lady? Nothing like it since Eleanor Roosevelt, and for the same reason. An accomplished, successful woman is poison to these guys. You best of all should know that, and should take care not to attract bottom feeders on your way to winning a blogosphere popularity contest.

Get back on BloggingheadsTV and debate Matt Yglesias or Eric Alterman, and you will begin to reappreciate the intelligent left.

Theo Boehm said...

"Contrapositive?" Hell, we're talkin' politics here, not philoposy.

"Postulants?" My dictionary has: postulant |ˌpɑstʃələnt| noun a candidate, esp. one seeking admission into a religious order.

It's the President of the United States, not the freakin' Pope.

Senators never posture for the "tellie" unless seduced by the siren song of being President?

"What's that on the tellie?"

"Looks like a penguin."

"No. It's Senator Levin."

Cedarford said...

Bart Hall - Leaving out everyone's politics, Condi Rice ('doubly handicapped' by race and gender ... aw c'mon) is much more qualified for the White House than either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama by dint of her experience running a large university as well as the State Department.

Bullcrap.

Rice has never held elective office in her life. Not even at grade school. As for executive experience, she was a policy wonk throughout her career until she became a "senior advisor" - now widely related in books to have been steamrollered by the Neocons. Then her stint at State, where she hasn't exactly been discussed as being in the same level as even Cyrus Vance or Madeline Halfbright.

If she ran, she also would come with as much baggage from being Bush's #1 counsel as Oprah returning from a two week shopping junket in Paris.

****************
Obama, Rice, Giuliani, Romney, Hillary also have no military experience. Only true of Bill Clinton in the last 80 years. Just as JFK was the only Senator in the last 80 years, lack of military or executive experience may be as difficult as just having "just been a Senator" or "careerist policy wonk by appointment of others" when running for President.

In Romney's favor, he did 2 1/2 years of missionary work overseas. Obama spent several years growing up in Indonesia.

Romney also appears to be one of the smartest men ever to run for President. On the face of his track record in business, his "fixing" major messes into impressive Turnarounds, and his academic credentials, he is smarter than Obama or Hillary. Smarter than all but a handful of past Presidents.

Theo Boehm said...

Cedarford: As a Massachusetts resident, and as someone who has seen Romney up close for the past four years, I totally agree with your assessment. Romney is, indeed, one of the smartest people in politics today.

He is also, in my opinion, unelectable nationally. I have called him an "idiot," but I meant that politically. He may be smart, but he comes across as a hypocrite, someone who takes phoney positions for political expediency and changes them to suit another audience. He is also not fast on his feet. I have seen him repeatedly dig himself deeper and deeper into a rhetorical hole that a nimbler politician could have easily avoided. The recent announcement that he has, indeed, changed his position on abortion, is an example. Despite all the intricacies of his nuanced positions, in the end he just comes off as a phoney who doesn't seem to know his own principles. All this will communicate to a larger audience, I think, and Romney will be ultimately viewed as just another square-jawed, blow-dried bore selling the same old snake oil. That is too bad, because he is smart, and he does have many virtues. It's just that sometimes good things come in packages that are a bit too good to be trusted.

Theo Boehm said...

Oh, (if I may use the term) I hasten to add that by "good things," above, I meant that Romney indeed has all of the good qualities imputed to him. I personally disagree with many of his positions, but I have always been ready to acknowledge his virtues as a person.

I think he would be a disaster for the Republicans nationally, however. Republicans need to nominate a mensch, such as a Giuliani, to have any chance against Sen. Clinton. And Giuliani is too old, too sick, and too laden with past personal and political baggage to ever consider a run for President. So it looks like we should get used to a President Clinton once again.

boston70 said...

Maybe because Dowd is now writing about democrats a little more and not about republicans.
The article you quoted was all about Hilary and Barack so that was funny.
The articles about Bush and Rummy not so funny.

Revenant said...

Maybe because Dowd is now writing about democrats a little more and not about republicans.

That could be. After all, Democrats are something Dowd actually knows something about.

hdhouse said...

ahhh oh revenant ---

please list your bestsellers and your pulitzers...i'm dying to read them.

Ms. Dowd has a following in the millions because, and precisely, she has insight, writes very very well and with clarity. Would you prefer Sean Hannity, Bill Oreally or Rush Druggist instead?