What Krugman said
I know, I know, Krugman. Only called his shot on the Bush administration while everybody else -- and by everybody I do mean everybody -- in our famously free prss was wanking. But what has he done for us lately? Today's column -- I'm fair-using most of it, because Krugman writes so tautly it's almost impossible to excerpt him without doing violence to the thread of his argument:
It is, in a way, almost appropriate that the final days of the struggle for the Democratic nomination have been marked by yet another fake Clinton scandal — the latest in a long line that goes all the way back to Whitewater.
Why does all this matter? Not for the nomination: Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House.
To the extent that the general election is about the issues, Mr. Obama should have no trouble winning over former Clinton supporters, especially the white working-class voters he lost in the primaries. His health care plan is seriously deficient, but he will nonetheless be running on a far more worker-friendly platform than his opponent.
But elections always involve emotions as well as issues, and there are some ominous signs in the polling data [in the rolling estimates for FL, OH, and PA at Pollster.com].
The point is that Mr. Obama may need those disgruntled Clinton supporters, lest he manage to lose in what ought to be a banner Democratic year.
So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do?
Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain. ...
Nor should Obama supporters dismiss Mrs. Clinton’s strength as a purely Appalachian phenomenon, with the implication that Clinton voters are just a bunch of hicks.
So what comes next?
Mrs. Clinton needs to do her part. ... She has said she’ll do that, and there’s no reason to believe that she doesn’t mean it.
But mainly it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised — starting with his own party.
One thing to do would be to make a gesture of respect for Democrats who voted in good faith by recognizing Florida’s primary votes — which at this point wouldn’t change the outcome of the nomination fight.
Another way to do that would be for Obama to fix his health care plan.
The only reason I can see for Obama supporters to oppose seating Florida is that it might let Mrs. Clinton claim that she received a majority of the popular vote. But which is more important — denying Mrs. Clinton bragging rights, or possibly forfeiting the general election?
What about offering Mrs. Clinton the vice presidency? If I were Mr. Obama, I’d do it. Adding Mrs. Clinton to the ticket — or at least making the offer — might help heal the wounds of an ugly primary fight.
Here’s the point: the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
I'll bet my first Early Girl tomato that none* of Krugman's wise suggestions will be adopted.
That is, the demonization of the Clintons will continue, Hillary's supporters will continue to be written off as hicks, and Hillary will not be offered the VP slot.** Nor will Obama address the deficiencies in his health care plan.
My views are based on Obama's past performance in the campaign. If Obama has made no gestures of respect when he hasn't won, why would he do so after he has? His base won't demand it of him, nor will his handlers, nor will our famously free press, and so it won't happen. If it were going to happen, it would already have happened; it's not like there haven't been opportunities.
Krugman assumes that the goal of the Obama faction is victory in November. I argue that it's control over the party machinery that's the have-to-have, and the election that's the nice-to-have. (Obama's movement is permanent and has its own sources of funding and its own database. That is the real prize of this election.) This working hypothesis is, to me, the only reasonable explanation for the willingness of Obama supporters to write off whole portions of what used to the the Democratic Party -- with the enthusiastic support of the "creative class" [cough], naturally. (That's what dismissing Clinton's support as being "Appallachia" translates into; I'm surprised Krugman doesn't draw the obvious conclusion here.)
Now, this is one time I'd really like to be proved wrong. So let me translate Krugman's column into some litmus tests that I would accept:
The VP slot is meaningless kabuki to me, at least. If Hillary wants it, fine, but why on earth would Obama give her any real authority? He'll lock her up in the Naval Observatory and send her on foreign travel for women's issues.
1. Obama could fix his broken health care plan. That's the number one issue for many of Hillary's supporters; I know it is for me.
2. Obama could throw some subordinate under the bus and hold him accountable for demonizing Hillary. Somebody needs to pay for that, and be seen to pay. This I know will be kabuki, but it's some kabuki I'd really like to see.
3. Obama could totally rule out Social Security privatization, say that Medicare is the real problem, and address it.
4. Clue stick for Obama supporters: Telling Hillary supporters to Shut The Fuck Up, both on line and, for pity's sake, at work and socially, isn't helping do anything except create a climate of fear in an already fearful country. Is that what you want? If Obama could find a way to address that, it would be useful and interesting. Healthy, even.
There are a ton of ways for Obama to make "nice." So far, whenever he's had to change to do so, he hasn't. Leaders lead. Will Obama?
I don't think so. I hope I'm wrong.
NOTE * Since bringiton says that the 5/31 DNC meeting is already wired, I leave that out of these considerations.
NOTE ** I'm open for side bets on the most insulting offer possible; my guess would be Sibelius.
UPDATE Kossacks respond to the Shrill one; hilarity ensues. Boiled down? "I used to like his writing back when he wrote more about economics... ". Plus ça change.... Fools throw a stone into the sea, and even the wisest can never find it.
UPDATE Avarosis takes time out from watering his orchids to trash Krugman. Hilarity ensues, as he concludes:
There is just too much drama, negativity and in-fighting swirling around the Clintons and the coterie. We've had enough of that.
Avarosis? Too much drama? Quelle surprise, or, in the vulgate, Who knew?