Thursday, April 17, 2008

Only the Democrats Can Beat the Democrats in 2008

AFTER WATCHING the debate in Pennsylvania between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, it seems they are doing a fine job of that. I am more than ever convinced that John McCain could still win the 2008 US Presidential elections. It happened once before, in 1912, when Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft split the GOP right down the middle and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the elections. But tonight was probably the nadir of both campaigns in terms of demoralizing their respective bases and justifying some gloating from the Republicans. The Atlantic uber-blogger and Obama supporter, Andrew Sullivan tries to put the best face on an ugly and uglier situation by divining a coming Pro-Obama Backlash.

He points to Matt Yglesias who is humorless in castigating Hillary Clinton for her low down attacks on Obama, saying "The lame excuse that she's making this and that outrageous smear because the Republicans will do it later is pathetic. Maybe they will. But she's the one doing it now." Maureen Dowd was wittier a week or so ago when she suggested that Hillary's real justification for her her behavior is that she is toughening up Obama so that if he does become the U.S. President he will be ready for really mean characters like Iran's Ahmadinejad by having tussled with someone even meaner!

Only the Democrats can beat the Democrats in 2008. Just as the Elephant gave birth to a Bullmoose in 1912, this year the Donkey could sire an Ass. I only know about this lil bit of US Presidential history because I've lately been reading William Howard Taft's papers. He was the first Civilian Governor of the First Iraq (the Philippines), President of the United States 1908-1912, and until his death, Chief Justice of SCOTUS. If he had won in 1912, Philippine History might not have turned out as it has!


Amadeo said...


I am loving this protracted Dem battle, all because neither would be a choice for me. The third one may not be that hot either, but he will do.

Obamania is losing luster fast, showing chinks in the hero's otherwise formidable but quite unknown armor. Sunlight may be the great equalizer.

I repeat that Obama is a good political operative but lacks experience, that he should do good in US politics but not for the title that he is vying for right now.

I look forward to the fall election.

Dave said...

For the sake of historical political accuracy, allow me to relate how the Bullmoose came about.
Theodore Roosevelt had stepped aside in 1908 eschewing a de facto third term in favor of his close friend and protege, William Taft.

Disappointed with Taft's Presidential performance, Theodore attempted a GOP cpmeback in 1912.
The Bullmosse came about now simply because he lost hte nomination but on account of HOW he lost it.
In the Southern (former Confederate) states the Republicans were few and number and not a force in any gneral election. However, at the 1912
GOP convention these states all got delegations as large as or even larger than the delegations from more heavily populated GOP strongholds. These additional delegates were all Taft apointees
and voted accordingly.
The ploy was perfectly legal but regarded as underhanded. So unethical in fact that a response was considered obligatory by all TR supporters, not to mention Theodore himself. Thus the Bullmoose and the Wilsonian Presidency.

Since Taft and TR were of one mind regarding the PI and Wilson of a (rather racialist) different mind,
Philippine history was indeed altered. To what degree of significance I am not prepared to say.

blackshama said...


Some what ifs:

If TR did become US President in 1912, would the Philippines been granted independence in 1916? or would the country be like Puerto Rico with its residents US citizens?

Would Quezon still end up as a de facto Premier? The Wood crisis was the factor that led Quezon on the road to the Palace.

BTW TR is the one who directed COngress to allocate funds for the scientific program of the Philippine Insular government in 1905. Philippine science owes a lot to this man.

stuart-santiago said...

"Would Quezon still end up as a de facto Premier? The Wood crisis was the factor that led Quezon on the road to the Palace."

oh my. thanks for this lead. my lola had lots of stories about quezon (he was ninong at her wedding) in the post fil-am war era. and my readings gave me nga a sense that he was "america's boy", the first in a series.

blackshama said...


We have something in common with regards to grandparents. My lolo was the first auditor of Quezon City and was close to the Commonwealth President. In his diaries he narrates the president's style of giving out favors and patronage. My lolo wouldn't have any of it so the family never got to own large tracts of Kamias, Quezon City save for a small lot on K-10 street. If he did and I could be giving the Ayalas, Aranetas and Sys a run for their money! Imagine me as a Mall king!?! (just kidding. This story is a family joke. EDSA-Kamias today is a good place to put a mall complex!)

Seriously now. It was a noted lawyer methinks George Malcolm who said Quezon clashed with Wood since he was really a de facto premier. Wood won't have anything so blatantly violative of the Jones Law (Wood restablished really the separation of powers) so there was the cabinet crisis.

No doubt MLQ tried to play his cards well (and succeeded) even if he was the first America's boy.

stuart-santiago said...

blackshama: my lolo's story vis a vis quezon was somewhat controversial and kept secret from what media there was at the time. your lolo's diaries must be really interesting and historically valuable. let me know if you're ever publishing them, or willing to share ;)

blackshama said...

The family plans to have it in print. But the task falls on me to edit and that takes time. Also I need to have a historian interpret the events narrated in the diary. I have brought up the idea to some historians though.

Worse of all when lolo was pissed off he wrote in Spanish! When he commeted on politically "neutral" events, he wrote in English!

My Spanish is really "mal" and though I can get the literal meaning of some of his words I have no idea of what the real meaning is.

The English entries are boring but should delight historians. Like the time when he describes how Tomas Morato Avenue was constructed.

The Nashman said...


what "experience" is this?

ALL presidential aspirants lack experience unless they are running for a second term.

Presumably if a president is faced with a problem and says "I have the experience to solve this" then clearly this is a half truth because if he experienced this before, he obviously failed to solve it....



Go McCain Go!

Equalizer said...

A nation of 303 million people will elect not only their country's leader but also the most powerful man or woman in the world who, for better or for worse, will have a significant impact on the lives of the remaining 6.3 billion people in this planet.

Is The World Ready For An American President Called Barack Obama?

Amadeo said...

@The Nashman:

Prior to his current stint as US senator in national politics, Obama got his political start as state senator of Illinois. Thus he lacks political experience on the national level, very critical for a country with very diverse population and concerns. He developed his skills essentially as a Chicago politician and as pundits will now confirm, this limited exposure is showing how he deals with his reported missteps.

He may also be considered as lacking experience in holding any executive position of any significance, to prepare him for the US presidency. Now, the other two may also be said to suffer from this lack of experience, but their other political experiences on the national scene may be said to make up for this. Thus, former state governors vying for this position are wont to extol their experiences as state executives, especially in diverse and populous states like NY and California.

This lack of experience definitely does not refer to his not having held the US presidency for indeed no first-time candidate would have held such a position.

But then again claims of lack of experience including mine should be taken in relative terms, especially as compared to other available choices.

DJB Rizalist said...

I'm leaning heavily towards Barack Obama not because of inexperience but because of vision and character. Neither Hillary nor John McCain have had the experience either of running a State or the country itself, though they have experience relevant to those tasks (she as wife and First Lady, he as war hero and all around good guy.)

But look at GWB, he was planning to be the education and faith President before he became the war president.

I guess the relevant question really is, how will any of them react to experiences that NO ONE has probably had when they become President.

It's make or break time for America. I think we need CHANGE and that means vision and leadership. The problem is it isnt yet time to choose. The 3 way fight is muddling people's concentration, so I am suspending judgment until we have a clearer picture of who is running on the Dem side.

Amadeo said...


You mentioned change in vision and leadership, and indeed these two are the recurring themes in the Obama campaign. But beyond rhetoric I wish to see some concrete and actionable details showing how to bring these about in the right ways and not simply for the sake of any change in vision and leadership. And if nothing in his past statements and actions (especially those during unguarded and more forthright moments) can give us at least a glimmer of how he intends to govern bringing us this change in leadership and vision, then we are basing our choice of him entirely on faith that he will indeed effect changes however vague and hazy they may seem at the present time. Right now, he seems very elusive when asked to answer specific issues relating to some of his past actions and/or statements, immediately wrapping himself in the rhetoric that they are irrelevant in his determined drive to effect change in leadership and vision.

And the continuing vetting process of Obama, which right now is focused only within his party, is showing him already to be a lot less than the rhetoric he so grandly and eloquently articulates. The Republicans will not be any kinder or circumspect in trying to cut him down to size during the general campaign. Thus, I continue to persist in saying that he needs more time to ripen as a politician and to accumulate sufficient track record to allow the electorate to formulate a more credible assessment of him.

Thus, if faith is such a big factor in the choice during this electoral process, I personally would rather go with a known and quite predictable quantity. Though IMO that personality definitely is no ideal candidate for these times. But who is in the current crop?

Richard said...

McCain is a very highly flawed candidate and I wept when he won the nomination...not it's the lesser of 3 evils and he is by far the least evil of the 3. Obama is a Marxist snob of the first order. Anybody who believes he will do anything in the National Security arena that will benefit the world only need look at the 'Great' accomplishments of his foreign policy mentor, Jimmy Carter. And, I'm not talking about the Jimmy Carter of 1979 either, I'm talking about the one running around the world today embracing every terrorist and dictator on the world stage today. So, yeah, if you want change and think Obama will deliver it...then you are right. Just hope you can sleep in the bed he makes for you.

DJB Rizalist said...

I am much more familiar with Hillary Clinton and John McCain than Barack Obama, who is basically an unknown to me. I did not pay much attention to him at all before the campaign, not thinking he would be any kind of factor. I want to give him a good look see before making up my mind, assuming that is that he gets the Democratic nomination. As for Jimmy Carter, I cannot imagine a more despicable agent of delusion than him at the moment, simply because as a former President he is merely playing into the hands of our enemies and playing Pied Piper to people who just don't understand how this world works.
But I'm not sure that a sitting President can even afford to do what he's doing. I hope all the candidates will get a chance to air their views and intentions vis a vis Carter's modus operandi. That may settle a lot of people's minds, one way or another. George W. Bush however has not been the zenith of American Presidential diplomacy. We've had much better in the past, though it's no guarantee we will again in the future among any of these three. Still I'd like to hear them one on one, say exactly what they would do for global security and the war on terrorism, both militarily, diplomatically, and in all other arenas of the battleground.

Richard said...

"Barack Obama, who is basically an unknown to me."

I admire your open-mindedness, but there is already plenty out there that should easily direct you toward his fundamental character, if not his intentions. I think 'blank slate' would be the best description for those who don't look carefully. He's playing a shrewd political game...the less you know about him the more you will like. It's just that the mask keeps slipping if you want to see it...BTW, a President can afford to do whatever a President is prepared to do. Look up Clinton, Willie Jeff...and even Carter, Jimmy Peanut. We have never recovered from those two and people had a really open mind about them as well.

DJB Rizalist said...

Fair enough comment Richard. It is of course entirely possible that we shall no very good choices at all this year. I already know that I shan't be voting for Hillary, so the Democrats may decide the thing for me.

I cannot deny a certain, perhaps fatal attraction to Mr. Obama however as he writes many things on the blank slate that I do like. It's the elitist attitude maybe that I do like. And you must not underestimate the appeal of that to even our proletarians and plebians.

However I shall take your bewares as fair warning and keep my eyes and ears more than wide open.

I frankly do hope that the race will be between Obama and McCain, for the purely selfish reason of wanting some personal suspense and challenge to make a tougher choice than otherwise. "I" want to decide for myself, not the Democratic national committee.

The Nashman said...

Incidentally I agree with Barack about the "hanging on to guns and religion" comment he made about the down and out middle america...

I wonder why that is taken as an insult and as being elitist in that part of the world...


The Equalizer said...

What then is the reason why Hillary still hell bent on her "throwing the kitchen sink" strategy on Obama?

Hillary simply wants to position herself for another run for president in 2012.

She wants the presumptive Democratic nominee to lose to the presumptive Republican nominee in the general elections in November .

Why? In 2012, a "president McCain" will be 75 when he runs for reelection . Hillary will only be 65!

That's how the desperate minds of the Billary Clintons work!

Sad but true.

DJB Rizalist said...

the equalizer,
I like the way Maureen Dowd said it a few weeks ago...
Hillary is staying in the race to toughen Barack Obama up against tough guys like Osama bin Laden and Ahmadinejad, but forcing him to tangle even meaner and tougher than them!

Richard said...


Fair enough. Obama is a romantic figure to be sure. But beware of what they say about romantics...they aren't necessarily people who are in love...only that they are people who love the idea of being in love.