Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Political Strategy as a Goof

Pursuing my usual political sites this morning, I was tickled to see that a significant number of Republican voters in Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi cast their lot with Hillary Clinton in their respective primaries. Cool, said I to myself, even heartland Republicans have had enough. Beat people over the head long enough, hard enough, with the batshit crazy stick (that's a reference to the last seven years - the hard way around) and even Republicans will wake the hell up.

Hey, it could happen. It happened to me. I was a republican most of my life, until George The Lesser Decider convinced me otherwise. So, for me, it was not inconceivable that other GOP voters would have the same crisis of conscience. But, I've got to tell you, I was surprised that in hard line red states like Ohio and Texas there would be a significant number of Republicans going over to the dark side.

Yeah, I should have known better.

These folks have no intention of voting for Clinton in the actual general presidential election. Rather, and follow me here, they voted for Clinton in their respective primaries because they think that McCain will have a better chance against her than against Obama.

"It's as simple as, I don't think McCain can beat Obama if Obama is the Democratic choice," said Kyle Britt, 49, a Republican-leaning independent from Huntsville, Texas, who voted for Clinton in the March 4 primary. "I do believe Hillary can mobilize enough [anti-Clinton] people to keep her out of office."

The strategy is two-fold: 1) increase and prolong the Democratic infighting between Clinton and Obama and therefor split and seriously weaken the party's chances in the general election. And 2) if Clinton does win the nomination, give McCain a better chance against what they perceive as the weaker of the two Democratic prospects.

This kind of silliness pisses me off, but I can't say that I can argue with the logic. However, it does remind me of a joke. Back in Eddy Murphy's heyday (you know, back when he was spontaneously funny), he used to do this bit about Jesse Jackson running for president. He said some white people would vote for Jackson - as a goof. He'd do a hysterical imitation of a liquored up redneck in the voting booth, snickering and flipping the switch for Jackson. But, Murphy deadpanned, wouldn't it be funny if it backfired? Murphy would grin and say "Could you see white people the morning after the election?" Then he would do that dorky white voice he did so well and say in the shocked tones of a midwestern redneck on the phone, "What?! He fucking won?"

Yeah, like that. Wouldn't it just be funny as all hell if the morning after the general election, the GOP strategists who dreamed up this bullshit all looked at each other and said, "What?! She fucking won?"

It would serve them right. Poetically, if you get my meaning. Assholes.


  1. Jim, I can't wait to write that Conversation with Karma.


  2. 16000 crossed over just in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). After our state enacted rules to "prevent voter fraud" by forcing "cross overs" to sign a loyalty pledge (our legislature is still held by Republicans) because theywere afraid of "Democrat(ic) Party Hijinks", and the they do it themselves. Fargin' hipocritcs.

  3. Steve, yes. And I suddenly realized this morning why many states have rules preventing those registered in one party from voting in primaries for anybody outside that party. Suddenly, that makes sense to me - even if the real reason those rules were put in place was to prevent their own voters from jumping ship. Maybe that ought to the national rule, with registered 'undeclareds' allowed to vote for any candidate (with the caveat that you must be registered undeclared for at least 4 years, in order to prevent dickheads from changing their registration temporarily in order to pull this kind of chicanery for a single election).

    Bah, this whole thing pisses me off.

  4. and I love that loyalty pledge. How are they going to enforce that? In fact, does it have the rule of contract law? Is it binding? The only way I can see to enforce it is to make cross-over voters do their business in public - no more secret ballots. Fuck it, we're dumping the Constitution anyway...

  5. Jim, I think independent voters should be allowed to vote in either primary, but rather than a 4 year wait, you might make it a year wait, or that you can't switch between the primary and the regular election.

    Though I'm not sure how you could enforce that.

  6. Michelle, I agree. But no matter what you do - there will always be those who think they have to game the system in order to 'win' and see no dishonnor in doing so. For them, all that matters is getting their party into office by whatever means. Cheating, dishonesty, and hypocrisy are justified in their minds because they feel that they are serving a higher cause. The end, for these people, always justifies the means - which is why our country now endorses torture as a means of national security.

  7. And at the head of all this crap was the very pompus (for what reason I have no idea) Rush Limbaugh. Yep ol Rushie decided it was smart to have Republican voters in that very primary declare independence and vote for Hilary vice Barack. His push was to keep the Dems in some anguished state until the convention while McCain made a run for the general election without competition and all the while pointing out that the Dems could not get their shit together. following his lead the Fox News assholes joined in as well as their pundants and the comentators in a campaign to keep the undecided, undecided or the appearance of that. When are these extremist assholes going to lose their grip on the meathead followers.

  8. Secret ballot. That's to prevent coercion of any kind.

    So, is it moral to sign a loyalty oath that you know you will abrogate because it's unconstitutional to have a loyalty oath in the first place?

    But, of course, this is for the primaries or caucuses, not for the general election.

  9. There will always be those who think they have to game the system in order to 'win' and see no dishonnor in doing so. For them, all that matters is getting their party into office by whatever means.

    Which totally squicks me out. I mean, I consider myself a very loyal democrat, but I will and have voted out of my party if I felt the R candidate was better--or at least less sucky.

    It's as if these people are incapable of independent thought--that it is impossible for someone of the opposing party to be a good candidate. That their core beliefs are the ONLY core beliefs that everyone on he freaking planet should have, and if you don't hold those beliefs than you're sub human or something.


    They're just as bad as single issue voters. (No! We must vote for ANY R candidate they put up! Because only Rs care about the rights of the unborn! Yeah, we'll too bad they don't give a shit about the rights of the already born.)

    And... that turned into a rant now didn't it? Best head to bed then.

  10. The big push for cross-over voting is multi-fold.
    1. Demonstrate a need to restrict voting to one's registered party.

    2. Demonstrate media bias because the Dem. Party has been doing this for decades, yet we don't hear about until Republicans do it.

    3. Throw a wrench into Hillary and Obamma's works, because we conservatives know that the candidate that the media has chosen for OUR side is a liberal dud in Republican clothing.

    Admittedly, It is kind of a childish tactict. But the theory is that people will pay more attention to socialist and dare-I-say communist policies of the Democrat candidates.

    I am not endorsing this ploy. I am only explaining it. As a conservative who has watched his party's leaders fall prey to liberalism, I can assure you that there is no joy in Muddville.

  11. Lovely rant, Michelle. I enjoyed it. :)

    And you're spot on the money regarding lack of independent thought. I know a number of folks, who (for example) purely hate Hillary Clinton. But when you ask them why, the answer is, well, uh, socialism, uh, health care, well, uh bitch! They hate her because the GOP told them to for the last 16 years. Period. And they have no idea why.

  12. OK, Jim, I'm gonna go out on a limb here in a pro-democratic bunch and answer your Clinton question.

    I can't support Ms. Clinton because of the smiling show of support for 1) a multiply unfaithful husband, 2) an impeached husband, and 3) a perjuring, disbarred husband. It's her personal choice - I just don't respect it and think it speaks volumes for her values in re: leadership and the law.

    I also don't much care for carpetbaggers, who come in from out of state to grab elections because they feel they'd have a good chance of winning in that race.

    From my anti-Clinton perspective, I don't understand the liberal left's continuing reverence for all things Clinton... yes, in some ways he was a good leader, but again, he was impeached, guilty of perjury (lying under oath) and disbarred. This ignominous end certainly taints my perception of his time in office.

    All that said, I, too, have migrated well away from the republican party in the last 6-8 years. It's not so much been because of Bush, although he disappoints me greatly - it's been because of the stranglehold the religious right has on the party.

    I don't know that I'd say I'm a democrat either - I usually answer small-l libertarian. I'd like America to find a strong leader who's a moderate bipartisan consensus builder - a leader who has vision, integrity and drive. That person may be Obama, it may not... but because of the bipartisan issue, it will never be Clinton.

    And yes, the gamesmanship to position candidates is disgusting and seems wrong.

  13. Roadhouse, I suspect you and I will seriously disagree, however thanks for being polite about it.

    Your points:

    1) Demonstrate a need to restrict... Huh? That's the same logic that hackers use to justify breaking into somebody's system - i.e. Just trying to help out by showing that the system needs fixin'. That's not a valid justification, it's a disingenuous rationalization - it's crap and I'm not buying it, thanks.

    2) Demonstrate media bias... Media Bias? Like Fox News perhaps? Look, I won't argue that the media is biased, but it's fifty fifty here, half screaming liberals and half ranting conservatives - if you don't include CNN which is the all Britney, all the time channel nowadays and no longer counts for anything either way. For every liberal Washington Post, there's a counter Wall Street Journal. So, if you're only watching Fox News, well that's your fault, try expanding your horizons a bit. As to the Dem. Party doing it for decades - yeah, both parties are run by power mad assholes. Terrific, and that justifies further dishonorable behavior how?

    3) Throw a wrench into... The wrench part I understand, as I said in the post. But the rest of your statement is what I don't get about conservatives - how is McCain a big "L' Liberal? What? He hasn't blown up enough abortion clinics? Hasn't declared Jesus as his savior and running mate? Hasn't personally escorted illegal immigrants to Gitmo? Hasn't got caught cruising for choir boys in airport restrooms after ranting for years about how gays are the downfall of our society? What? I mean seriously here, Roadhouse, do explain. Also please explain how he managed to handily clinch your party's nomination if he doesn't represent the majority view of conservatives - and please do it without the biased media picked him dodge - unless you want to admit up front that a vast majority of Republicans are such mindless dolts that they'll do whatever 'the media' says. You can't have it both ways - either 'the media' picked McCain and you're all easily manipulated sheep, or the majority of you voted for McCain of your own volition. Which is it?

    One thing here, Roadhouse, if McCain is such a big Liberal pansy ass - then how come conservatives don't play that card? You know, court the Democrat vote: McCain - more Liberal than Canada! Seriously, Roadhouse, Reagan got a big chunk of the democrat vote and God knows his name has been invoked enough lately to suck a little magic from that mummified corpse.

    ...people will pay more attention to socialist and dare-I-say communist policies of the Democrat candidates. Oh for crying out loud. Look, I'm trying to be reasonably polite here, but that is the most bullshit bit of logic I've seen all day. As to the socialism/communist bit - I assume you're new here? Go read a couple of posts and get familiar with the people around here, including me (start with the Don't Assume You Know Me link under the 'Top Posts' box on the right of the main page) - and I think you'll find you don't want to be making mindless unsubstantiated statements like that in this crowd (unless you're being all subtly sarcastic and clever, in which case you'll fit right in). I'll spot you that bullshit, once. After that I'll let the crowd rip you apart just for my own amusement.

    Bottom line, While I don't consider myself either liberal nor conservative, the majority of people here are liberals (small 'L'), a few are conservatives. They all have certain things in common, not the least of which is that they think for themselves - they, and I, demand you do too. So, if you're going to comment here, and you're welcome to do so, then don't regurgitate lowest common denominator Limbaugh at me - and that's exactly what you're doing when you call McCain a liberal and use words like socialism and communism in the context you did.

    See, Michelle K's comment above - the nonsense you posted is exactly what she was talking about.

    Again, thanks for being polite, I do appreciate it. But, please, think for yourself, would you?

  14. Oops, sorry Jeri, I should have said: I know a number of staunchly conservative folks who purely...

    I find that these folks hate Clinton and to a lesser extent Obama - but it's never for anything either one of them actually did, said, or believes. i.e. Clinton is a socialist! (most of these people have no idea what socialism actually is, but they know that it's bad, as bad as communism, or baby eating atheism or whatever) Obama is a Muslim! If they can even articulate their hatred to that degree, which many of them cannot.

    I asked a Neocon a while back to explain exactly why Clinton was evil: She wants to take away our guns! She's mean. She'll fuck up the health care 'system'. She wants to end the war! yeah, gasp. My question, gun control, citation please. Answer, well everybody knows the bitch wants our guns! Next question, how is a national health care plan socialism, but social security (which he received), welfare, medicaid, medicare, and etc isn't? Answer, she's a socialist, this is America damnit! Last question, what's wrong with ending the war? Answer, what are you, some kind of idiot? We need to stay in this fight until every last Arab is dead.

    Ok, end the conversation and exit.

    On the other hand, I find that many liberals (small 'L') have actually thought about their position, and if they don't like Clinton then it's for clearly articulated reasons. In fact they usually hold up their hand and start ticking off points - I can live with this. I don't particularly like her either, but I know why I don't and like you I can sight specific reasons.

    Oh, and for the record - I have no reverence for Bill Clinton. I thought he was a lying, cheating, cigar poking sack of shit - but then I've always thought that Hillary was the better of the pair :)

  15. For whatever it's worth, there are quite a few of us on the liberal left who don't understand the reverence for all things Clinton, either. For the most part, he governed as a moderate conservative, for better or worse, and many of us on the left can't really forgive him for screwing up healthcare reform, all-but-abandoning gay rights, and rolling over on welfare reform. Nor are we particularly happy about Travelgate or Chinese funding or similar ethical indiscretions.

    Personally, I'm less concerned about Clinton's philandering: if presidential blow jobs lead to a healthy economy, and an engagement in a Middle East peace process (there are high points to the Clinton years--hell, even Nixon had accomplishments that can't be taken away from him), then maybe there ought to be a cabinet-level position. "Office Of Executive Hummers." Congress can hold hearings for the nominees. If there were a Secretary Of Fellatio, maybe we wouldn't be in Iraq, you know?

    Bill Clinton's infidelities, though, never really bothered me. His wife forgave him--whether out of convenience or because she loves him, that's her business. (At this point the cynics love to jump in and attribute Hillary Clinton's decisions to politics and ambition. Maybe they're right, though Bill Clinton has often been a liability to her political career. But none of us have been in their bedroom or at their dinner table, and there are all sorts of marriages in the world. For all we know, the Clintons have an understanding about sex and there was nothing to forgive except, perhaps, being caught. Who knows?)

    As to the communist Democrats: no, Roadhouse has a good point. If you look at Obama's page, he has an awesome plan for distributing toilet paper on alternate days of the week based on party membership, industrial sector and first letter of your middle name. And Clinton's strategy for introducing Lamarckism into American agriculture will revolutionize the new nationalized farm system (the purge of retrogressive thinkers from the National Academy Of Sciences is regrettable, it's true, but some of them are probably re-educable).

    Sort of back on topic: the funniest/most painful thing about the cross-voting is that the Clinton campaign uses it as evidence of Clinton's electability. Great. "I did well in Texas, and Obama's numbers don't count!" It's closely related to the other Clinton talking point I'm sick of: the implication that New York is going to go Red if Obama is the nominee. "I won the big states we'll need for the general election." Right. If McCain takes New York or California, I'll need to buy a hat and find a good recipe for it--maybe if I cut it up and used it as a topping with Jim's pizza-dough recipe?

    -Citizen Eric

  16. Thanks, Eric, you made me laugh this morning.

    Like you I don't personally give much of a crap about Bill Clinton's infidelities - at the scandal level. However I did see his behavior as an indicator of a greater personal failing. But then I knew what kind of guy he was right from the start. What killed me about William Jefferson Clinton wasn't Bill himself, but democrat who were outraged when he acted the way he did. I had his number from the day he showed up on the national stage and nothing he did in his personal life surprised me. And it amused the hell out of me that democrats had the gall to act surprised when it turned out that Bill was, well, Bill - on the other hand, you're right regarding his accomplishments as president and I wish the economy was in half as good of shape today as it was when he left office.

    I suspect the Clinton's marriage is one of convenience and accommodation. I don't hold that against them, though like Jeri I lose a certain amount of respect for Hillary for slapping a smile over the situation and for the rest of the reasons Jeri stated.

    And if New York does indeed go red in response to Obama, I will put ketchup on a hat and dine right alongside you :)

  17. You may be right about the Clintons' marriage. When I say it's possible that you're wrong, it's not because I think you actually are wrong or because of naievete--it's because none of us know, and that's why I don't hold that particular issue against Ms. Clinton.

    There are a lot of different kinds of marriages. Obviously. Some for convenience, some for children, some for love, some for money, etc. Except it's more complicated than that, there are all sorts of things that can overlap. There are couples that are deeply in love but who have no sexual interest in each other. There are couples that are all about the sex and power but never really had the love. There are swingers and strict monogamists who stay faithful to each other for 80 years.

    I will say these two things for whatever they're worth: first, that there are a lot of people who agree with you and Jeri, and Ms. Clinton would have earned a lot of credit among some by cutting her husband loose.

    Second, that the way Bill Clinton acted in South Carolina looked, to my eyes, more like a man so in love with his wife it makes him kind of stupid than it did like the calculated politico we're all familiar with. It was an interesting lapse, if you ask me. But who knows?

    Again, I put this out there not because I have a firm opinion one way or the other, but because I just don't know and neither does anyone else who isn't Bill, Hillary, or maybe Chelsea.

    Anyway, there's more than enough to be disappointed in when it comes to Hillary Clinton: the arrogance, the unwillingness to compromise, the refusal to admit mistakes, (if you're a liberal) the connections to the conservative DLC, the secretive paranoia, the questionable stands on First Amendment issues, the carelessness of the Iraq vote, the sense of entitlement, the Carvillesque politicking that was kinda funny at first but now seems crassly manipulative and so 15-years-ago, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Sure, I'll vote for her if she's the nominee, and reassure myself that she's one of the most intelligent candidates we've had in my lifetime...

    ...but she's no Obama....

  18. Y'know what I want in a president right now?

    I want someone who is willing to listen to the average citizen.

    I think that the absolute biggest mistake Bush made was to completely isolate himself. During the last election, campaign stops were peopled only by avid supporters. Which means to me that he was unwilling to accept dissent at all.

    I want a president who is willing to LISTEN when someone says, "Y'know? That might not be the best idea in the world. Have you considered...?"

    I'm not sure Hillary is that person. I am afraid she has been too isolated for too long, and I think her husband, as an ex-president, is even more isolated.

    (Sorry, but I'm not even going to consider McCain. I liked him in 2000, but over the past 8 years he's continued to roll over and show his belly to Bush, and I really don't like that in a future leader.)

  19. Eric, your analysis is spot on - and hilarious. Thanks for injecting humor into this conversation!

    You're right, there are all kinds of marriages, and we have no insight (nor right to such) into theirs.

    I'm actually a huge fan of health care system reform. I'm not sure if federally funded universal health care is the best option - there are horror stories in the UK about rationing and health-impacting delays. It does beat the alternative of remaining with the current system, with costs spiraling out of control and the working poor unable to afford care.

    I have an 18 y.o. son who is epileptic. When he graduates from college, he'll probably join the legions of working uninsured for a time. His health care costs are significant and regular preventive care essential. He won't be able to afford it out of pocket. Ugh.

    Michelle, I agree with you on the listening factor! If a political leader can walk the fine line between listening to the average voter, but not being overly accessible and influenced by the special interest groups, he or she will be a force to be reckoned with.

    McCain? Well, at work a few of us speculate on those most likely to go postal in the workplace. (Why? Because it is more entertaining than compiling change request documentation.) McCain strikes me as one such, potentially subject to dangerous rage and unilaterally damaging inclinations. I don't want him anywhere near the big red button.

  20. Jeri,

    If you want my long rant about health care and what the US should do, just ask.

    We talked a lot about costs and coverage in my MPH class.

  21. Michelle, I'd love to hear it. Maybe you could write it as a multipart series on your blog, as time and inclination permits?

  22. I'll think about it. It's been a long time since I posted anything political and controversial (excluding depression posts) so I'm probably past due.

    And of course I can go and liberally steal from PAST posts on health care! HA!

  23. Roadhouse, I keep hearing about your point #2, but only from conservative editorialists. Newspapers and news organizations have looked at the records, interviewed poll workers, and they have never been able to verify those claims. Every election there is a small percentage of people who switch political alignments, however the first major shift ever recorded is this past primary election. And it was the Republicans switching to vote on the Democratic side. Sorry, have to call fairy tale on this "the Dems have been doing it for decades."

    And I think the "media" officially declared McCain's candidacy dead last summer. So I don't think they "choose" him. You might want to actually look at the people in the Republican Party who, given the choice, choose McCain to be the nominee. And after all, how much do "real conservatives" listen to the mainstream "liberal biased" press anyway? How could the press have influenced their votes? That just doesn't make sense.

  24. I think we scared him off, Steve.

    Next time we'll have to wait until the bobber is completely under water, and remember don't jerk the line, we don't want it to snap...

  25. He's googling "obama toilet paper rationing," having failed to find the page I referred to earlier on Obama's website (or he may be attempting to avoid Obama's website because he doesn't want it in his history or cache).

    Little does he realize that Larry and Sergey have suppressed all related search results since Premier Soros' last memo via the acting executive committee declaring the five year toilet paper plan to be oldthink.

    By the way, is there anyone who wants to trade a Wednesday ticket for a Monday? I usually go grocery shopping on Mondays after work and it would be easier for me to queue up then. They're still allowing ticket trades under the revised ten year plan, right?

  26. Comrade Eric, shopping schedule ticket trading, while a legal gray area, is considered bourgeoisie and decadently capitalist. The KGB/TSA cashier will frown and charge you double for the fresh cabbages - if local collectives have managed to grow any that is.

    As a lawyer, you're already on the list.

    I advise against it.

  27. Tom, I just reread your comment, and you know, that's a very interesting question you asked, i.e. Is it moral to sign a loyal oath...

    I'd say no. Obviously no. But then the morals of these people are questionable in the first place.

    However, I wonder about the bigger question here: Is it legal to force voters to sign a loyalty oath? Constitutionally speaking. Doesn't that constitute a form of voter intimidation? And isn't that illegal? What's next? A poll tax? A literacy test? oh, wait...

  28. But Jim, you gotta hit 'em hard to set the hook. Otherwise they might just spit it back out.

  29. Next time we'll use dynamite, stun him and scoop him up by hand :)


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