Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Disorganized Hillary Proves Her Incompetence

Sen. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the experienced, super-competent candidate, ready for the presidency "on day one," as she proclaimed repeatedly. Sen. Barack Obama was supposed to be the neophyte.

But if these perceptions were accurate, why has Clinton's campaign overspent in some states wildly, missed getting started in others altogether, and fallen into disorganization and financial difficulty, while the Obama campaign has been splendidly organized, had its priorities so straight, raised so much money at little fund raising expense, and sailed on, especially after the tie on Super Tuesday, to assume a delegate lead in the struggle for the Democratic nomination?

Partly, it's because Obama has proved to be a much better speaker and altogether a much more attractive candidate. But partly, also, it's also that Obama has proved extraordinarily competent in setting up and running a campaign, while Clinton has fallen on her face, organizationally.

Now, on the stump, she has suddenly started to pretend she is a populist. Some populist! She has been raising money in this campaign from countless special interests. She has never been a champion of the people.

Also, of course, she has had to contend with a loose cannon for an aging husband who has proved angry and inept while campaigning for her, keeping in everybody's mind the dangers of another Clinton presidency, while Obama's spouse, Michelle, has only enhanced Obama's reputation.

I think we've seen enough to come to the conclusion that a second Clinton presidency would be disastrous, repeating very likely in Hillary Clinton's case the debacle her development of a health care reform plan turned into in the first year of the first Clinton presidency, before Bill Clinton pulled the plug.

When one reads in the Wall Street Journal this morning how various members of the Clinton campaign command have erupted in recent days, screaming accusations at one another as they argued over ads and strategy, it is frightening to imagine this happening in some kind of security crisis in the White House. As everyone lost his or her temper, Mrs. Clinton would undoubtedly tear up, as she did in Portsmouth, N.H., and at Yale University, while husband Bill flew off to Kazakhstan to make a new mining deal with the dictator there.

This morning, we are treated to three fascinating articles, in the Journal, the Guardian in Britain, and the New York Times, of the increasing desperation in the Clinton camp as its campaign struggles to aright itself.

The lead by Michael Tomasky, the incisive analyst for the Guardian, in his article this morning, creates a strong impression.

"Remember the common scene from old spy movies, in which the hero is trapped in a small room or an elevator, and suddenly the walls start closing in on him," Tomasky writes.

"That's where Hillary Clinton is today. She's not yet gasping, as the walls begin to press up against her. But she's noticed that they're moving and she needs to think fast."

Outlining what has been going wrong in detail, are New York Times reporters Patrick Healy and Katherine Seelye, in an article headlined "Knocked Off Balance, Clinton Campaign Tries to Regain Its Stride."

According to this lengthy article, the Clinton staff and particularly its departed manager, Patti Solis Doyle, were extremely slow to get organized or failed entirely to organize, in a number of the states whose caucuses and primaries were either on or followed Super Tuesday. The staff, like Hillary herself, may have assumed they would have crushed Obama by Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, or at least squashed him in New York, New Jersey and California that day, and not need to worry about other states.

The result has been a string of defeats in Midwestern and Western states on Super Tuesday, and in contests that followed it, which have turned the campaign on its ear, and given Obama unexpected momentum.

In Idaho, Healy and Seelye report, Obama began getting organized a year before the Feb. 5 caucuses. By the time the caucuses took place, he had five offices in the state and 20 paid staff members. Obama himself campaigned in Boise, drawing 14,000 cheering people to the biggest arena in the state.

By contrast, Clinton did virtually nothing, except send her supporter, Maria Cantwell, the U.S. senator from neighboring Washington state, into Idaho at the last minute. The result should have easily been foreseen: Obama won the caucuses by 62 points and took the preponderant number of the state's delegates.

Healy and Seelye give a number of other examples -- superior Obama organization in Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota, Washington and Maine, which brought smashing victories in all those states.

In part, it may have been because the Clinton campaign squandered its early fund raising edge over Obama, spending too much on fund raising events and pouring money and staff into Iowa when it belatedly began to appreciate that Obama was taking the lead there, and then, falling into fund raising problems, not having enough for other states, even if it had begun to perceive they might be important in a protracted race for the nomination.

Even now, it's reported this morning, the Clinton campaign, while calling for volunteers to come from California and other states into Texas, to campaign for her there in the March 4 primary, isn't willing, or perhaps able, to pay travel expenses for the volunteers. And it has turned down the plea of its supporter, Gov. Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, for a mailing preceding that state's April 22 primary.

Well, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, go into this ad infinitum.

But the question that cannot be ignored is: Do we want such organizational screw ups as Hillary Clinton and her staff to take over the White House at a time when terrorists threaten, when economic problems mount, and her husband's corruption continues?

Pardon me for waking up before the cows come home, but I think not.


More tomorrow on the depressing news that the L.A. Times is in for new downsizing, buyouts and layoffs, including 40 to 50 in the newsroom. It shows, among other things, that the carcass of fired CEO Dennis FitzSimons, who never wanted to do anything but cut, may not have yet been carted from the executive board room in Chicago.

An early, constructive move by Sam Zell might be to appoint a new publisher in Los Angeles, with local business experience. But it's important too to stop using the profits at the L.A. Times to support the rest of a failing company. It must be recognized, we are living through hard times in the newspaper business, but the Times shouldn't shoulder the whole burden.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't spell--including your unfortunate use of the word "Se" which apparently refers to Hillary Clinton, the alleged She Devil you are now claiming is incompetent in your latest sexist diatribe. Get a grip, dude. Women are people.

2/14/2008 2:35 PM  

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