Solipsism Extraordinaire

One of the first ethical lessons we learn as children is to play by the rules. All of us can remember a playground bully, wagging his finger when the game was slipping from his grasp, trying to bend the rules so that he could win. That was all that mattered – him winning. The solipsism of the playground. Today, Democrats encounter the solipsism of Hillary Rodham Clinton and act surprised. They shouldn’t be: Those of us with long memories will recall her "Politics of Meaning" speech in 1993 with horror as arguably the most self-absorbed public moment of any prominent political figure. Therein she called for a "new ethics of responsibility" and a "new politics of meaning" and a new everything else, without so much as a nod to Aristotle or Augustine, but with the clear sense that she was the person to deliver all the newness. Now, that solipsism threatens to wreck the party. She needed to win big in Ohio and Texas if she wanted to overtake Obama’s delegate lead, but she did not win big. In terms of delegates, the day was a bit of a wash. So, now she must seek elsewhere for her victory. Last year, when Michigan and Florida violated party rules, all candidates agreed to remove their names from the ballot in Michigan and, because Florida law did not permit removal of names from the ballot at that late date, the candidates agreed not to campaign there. But, Clinton conveniently neglected to file the paperwork in Michigan and her name remained on the ballot while Obama and Edwards did remove their names. People who think Clinton is such a strong candidate in rustbelt states should recall that she only won 56% of the vote in Michigan with no opponents. Leonid Breshnev used to run unopposed and he always got nearly 100% of the vote. In Florida, the candidates pledged not to campaign but Clinton conveniently scheduled fundraisers in the state the weekend before the vote. When you are a former first lady, of course, whether you are coming to campaign or for a fundraiser, your comings and goings will earn you plenty of media coverage. Additionally, Hillary benefits from almost universal name recognition: Obama has needed to rely on time and ads and mailings to introduce himself to the voters. Unsurprisingly, Clinton won more votes in Florida’s faux-primary. Now that the race could scarcely be tighter, Clinton wants the Florida and Michigan delegations seated. She is wagging her finger and threatening dire consequences for November if Michigan and Florida are not seated. This might be true, which makes her having helped manufacture this conundrum even more appalling. There is talk of having a re-do, but the cost of another primary is prohibitive. The less expensive caucuses would allow both candidates a fair shot, but Clinton’s team does not like caucuses because they require more organization and less reliance on name recognition. Will someone please ask Sen. Clinton – if you can’t organize a campaign in a caucus state, how will you organize a government? Readers will recall how disgusted I have been with the Obama campaign’s "she can’t catch us" remarks because they do not make voters in upcoming states feel like their votes will matter. But, the press corps needs to consider the actually delegate math and what Clinton’s decision to persevere says about her character. Jonathon Chait at the New Republic has a brilliant analysis on this subject. E.J. Dionne in this morning’s Washington Post writes that the "happiest people in the country right now are Hillary Clinton and Rush Limbaugh," noting that Limbaugh urged Republicans to vote for Clinton in this week’s primaries. "Hillary is going to be the one to have to bloody [Obama] up politically," Limbaugh cheerfully predicted. There is no way Clinton can overtake Obama unless she destroys his character or the super-delegates decide to overturn the verdict of the primary and caucus electorate nationwide. Will she risk it? As her newfound, temporary ally Rush Limbaugh said, "It’s about winning, folks." Michael Sean Winters
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10 years 7 months ago
Wow. I could have written the prior comment. Mr. Henry, you're a dead ringer for me!
10 years 7 months ago
Being Roman Catholic and therefore "Pro-Life," I consider myself neither Democrat nor Republican. It needs to be said, however, that I'm having one hellova time watching the Democrates dig themselves deeper and deeper into doodoo! Talk about spectator sports--this election season is nothing short of spectacular. Please, don't let it end anytime soon!

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