Commentary Magazine


McCain Agrees with Clinton on This One

Hillary Clinton is turning up the heat on Barack Obama’s efforts to thwart re-votes in Michigan and Florida. This report explains just how tough the rhetoric is getting:

“When it comes to protecting the vote, he likes to say, ‘This is something I know something about,’” Deputy Communications Director Phil Singer said in a conference call. “Well, now he knows something about disenfranchising voters.” “Slapping these people is not the way to engender support and it gives the Republicans a real opening,” senior adviser Harold Ickes continued . “Florida, in particular, is really sensitive about disenfranchisement.” “It is absolutely critical that we start looking at the electoral vote map to start assembling 270 votes,” Ickes said, grouping Florida with other electoral battlegrounds.

There is, of course, a heavy dose of self-serving prognostication here. But it is not hard to imagine that in the general election John McCain would go to Florida and tell independents and Democrats that Obama shoved them out of the way to grab the nomination and now wants them to let bygones be bygones. Voters, self-centered creatures that they are, generally like to think that politicians value them. Obama’s tactics won’t sit well. (And, as we’ve learned, in Florida a very small number of “some voters” may be all it takes to swing the state one way or another.)

McCain used his primary race in January to put a state team in place and introduce himself to Florida voters. The Democrats didn’t and likely won’t do so (if Obama is successful in blocking a re-vote effort) until the nomination is decided. That’s an advantage for McCain, which is reflected in polling showing him leading both candidates.

As for Obama, an old-style strong-armed victory secured by excluding Florida and Michigan seems at odds with the era of new politics he is supposed to usher in. With each passing week and each tactical move Obama’s campaign seems less and less about “change” and more and more like hand-to-hand combat. For any ordinary candidate that might not be a problem. But for the savior of our entire political system it may be.