Last night Obama won big in Wisconsin and Hawaii. Hawaii was pretty much a given; so much so that neither candidate made a personal stop there. But the Clinton campaign was hoping for either a win in Wisconsin or a close loss, and they were blown out of the water via a 17-point defeat. It really says something about the state of the campaign that people in her camp are saying the seventeen point loss showed the negative ads were starting to work or that Obama’s negatives have “nowhere to go but up.” (Also that Clinton is giving speeches in high school gymnasiums while Obama’s giving them in college arenas.) They’re obviously running scared and Obama has the victory about wrapped up. Clinton’s hope has changed from needing to win Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to needing to win those states big (probably bigger than 17 points). However, Obama has come within two points in Texas in a CNN poll, and some are saying that Ohio is close enough to Wisconsin that Obama might end up winning that one as well. If Hillary wins Texas close and Ohio big, no doubt she will feel like she has a legitimate chance of gaining enough superdelegates to win. If both are close than it’s going to be very, very difficult. If Obama wins Texas it’s all but over and if he wins Texas and Ohio I think we’ll start hearing calls for Clinton to concede the race and quit. At that point it will be virtually impossible for her to win.
One thing that’s amazing to me is that Obama did better in Wisconsin than McCain. They both won by 17-point margins, but Obama actually got a higher percentage of the vote (58% to 55%). Further, Obama not only got more votes than all the Republican candidates combined, but the difference between his votes and the entire GOP total is larger than the number of votes McCain received. The vote total, I’m sure, is partly due to the fact that McCain already has won the nomination for all intensive purposes. However, for that very same reason it’s remarkable that Obama’s margin of victory was equal. McCain really should be pulling 65% or 70% of the vote by now. And who’s still voting for Ron Paul? Honestly!
This really bodes well for Obama heading into the general election. What’s even better is that McCain is borrowing from Clinton’s playbook; last night he made the claim that “I may not be the youngest candidate, but I’m the most experienced,” and said that he needs “make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call to change.” Evidently his old age is causing a bit of dementia; these are the exact same arguments Clinton has used, and the more she has used them the worse things have gotten for her.
McCain also made a huge tactical error that I really hope Obama calls him out on. In pointing out his foreign policy inexperience during his victory speech last night, McCain asked “Will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperience candidate who once suggested invading our ally, Pakistan?” This morning, on “Good Morning America,” McCain said that “Obama wants to bomb Pakistan without talking to the Pakistanis. I think that’s dangerous.” Evidently it’s okay to hunt for bin Laden and al Qaida in enemy territories, but not so much in allied ones (assuming a rather loose interpretation of the word “ally”). But as I pointed out a few days ago on my blog, this really isn’t that deviant from American policy now. You don’t have to take my word for it. On Monday, that’s “Monday,” as in two days ago, America did, in fact, bomb Pakistan without asking the Pakistanis. I’m not a war hawk by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a peace-at-all-costs guy. But I do understand that sometimes forceful actions need to be taken to preserve peace; that failure to disturb the peace in a controlled method now may result in less peace over the long-term which we cannot control. And I’d like to think I’m a long-term thinker. I’d like to think McCain is, too. Which is why I’m sure he doesn’t object to Bush’s use of drones to bomb outlaying areas of Pakistan where al Qaida may be hiding, and without permission if the Pakistani government won’t give it. It’s just baffling that he would attack Obama for holding this view the day after the United States took such action.
As for Clinton . . . what can I say about Clinton? As the race moves on she’s getting more and more panicky and taking more and more extreme actions and she keeps losing worse and worse. I thought that Obama had a good chance to win all the states between Super Tuesday and March 4th. I thought it probably wouldn’t happen; that Clinton would win at least one or possibly two (namely Washington and Wisconsin), yet I had hope. But I could not have imagined he would win these so convincingly. Yesterday’s 17-point win was actually his smallest margin of victory since Super Tuesday.
Clinton is not doing herself any favors. She’s really starting to show her true colors, and it’s putting people off. I hate to admit it, but I really think the left (me included) is starting to see the Clintons for what the right has been telling us they are for sixteen years. I haven’t changed my opinion of the Clinton presidency. He did some good things (obviously the economy, or increasing the use of computers in schools, or increasing the number of children who could afford to go to college) and he did some bad (NAFTA, selling the radio waves, and giving secrets to China come to mind). But this election cycle has made me realize that he’s just a petty individual hell-bent on maintaining power in any way he can. And Hillary Clinton’s stock has fallen just as dramatically, but she didn’t have as much to begin with.
Last night she gave a terrible speech, which included the oft-championed vision she has of “insuring every single American.” I HATE how she acts like she’s a champion for health coverage, and everybody just allows it. The way she went after health care changes in the 90’s pushed us back decades in the fight for universal health care. And her plan won’t cover every single American, at best it will leave out tens of thousands and at worse tens of millions. She makes exceptions for the very poor who can’t afford coverage, just like Obama does, and just like Edwards did. I will admit that it may cover more people than Obama’s plan, though I like Obama’s plan better because I believe it will do more to lead to single-payer coverage, which I think is ideal (which is why every other civilized, and some not-so-civilized, countries embrace it). But here’s what really got me about the speech: She asked, “Who are we going to leave out? Would we leave out the mother I met who grabbed my arm and said the insurance company wouldn’t pay for the treatment that her son needed?” Senator Clinton’s “universal health care” plan would mandate that all Americans buy health insurance. If you’re going to argue that more people will be covered under your plan, fine. That’s fair, and I’ll admit it. But don’t lay a sob story on us about the currently insured and act like your plan is going to magically save those being hurt by the insurance companies. The truth is she changed from single-payer to mandated purchased insurance about the time the insurance companies started loading up her coffers.
Not to mention that, though her plan would mandate coverage, she’s all but admitted it won’t pass. Her claim that Obama’s plan is not good enough is that she knows if a plan that starts out covering all Americans is not introduced, by the time it’s whittled down by Congress it won’t help anybody. Again, you can make that argument if you want; it’s a fair argument (though I think it says more about how she perceives the failures of her leadership than its accuracy across the board). But don’t say you’re going to use universal coverage as a way to negotiate to an Obama-esque plan and then claim it’s so much better than his.
McCain also made a swipe at Obama’s plan, saying it would “bankrupt the country and ruin the quality of American health care that is the envy of the world.” He has a point there. The American health care system is the envy of the world, which is why the World Health Organization, a part of the UN, ranks the U.S. health care system at 37th. Right below Costa Rica and right above Slovenia and Cuba. Evidently the U.S. is the envy of the world because it’s so close to Costa Rica. Get sick? Just fly down to the Caribbean; health care and a vacation in one go! McCain says Obama can’t solve our problems with speeches; well, you can’t solve our problems with your head in the sand, either. Denial is not a solution, it’s the problem.
Speaking of solutions vs. speeches, have you noticed that Hillary Clinton says she’s in the “solution business” instead of the “speech business,” but all her speeches are about how she offers more solutions without actually providing any information on what those solutions are? Saying that you’re in the “solutions business” for twenty minutes does not actually offer any solutions. If you can wade through the seven pages of NT Times trascripts, do so. Obama gave a lot of examples on things he will do to change America. Clinton only complained about how Obama can’t change it.
Finally, I want to vent about how much a sore loser Clinton is getting to be. Yesterday she gave her speech without mentioning her loss or congratulating Obama on victory. Even McCain congratulates Huckabee for doing so well. And it’s not just that she ignores the fact that she’s getting killed. Every loss comes with an excuse. “This state has a large black population,” or “Caucuses aren’t democratic,” or “We knew we were going to lose anyway.” She’s been constantly trying to change the rules to make her losses less impactful for a month. She said the delegates in Michigan and Florida need to be seated though she agreed with the DNC’s decision not to seat them when she thought she was a shoe in. She thinks that caucuses are not democratic because they force people to show up at a certain time, even though they’ve been in use for hundreds of years and she didn’t seem to have a problem with them until Obama started winning them handedly. She tells the super-delegates to support and push her to the nomination, even if she loses the popular vote, the delegate vote, and the majority of states. Now she wants to try and pick-off Obama’s pledged delegate votes. You try to change the rules before the game, not after you start losing. She’s acting like a manager complaining that balks aren’t “baseball-enough.” I’m still bitter about the 2000 election, but it’s because rules were not followed (i.e. a recount mandated by law was halted). I don’t think Gore lost unfairly because of the Electoral College or because of Nader and Buchanan siphoning votes. Like them or not, these rules were in place in November of 2000 and we have to abide by them. Now she should have to abide by the rules she agreed to play with. Obama vs. Clinton is starting to be less of a choice between leaders and more of a choice to defend the democratic system the U.S. is based upon.