Eight Years Ago

I’ve long believed that one of TPM’s greatest assets – not financial assets but substantive assets – is the the collection of fifteen years of TPM Reader emails. We have an extremely literate and wise readership and we’ve cultivated email exchanges with them going back to November 2000. It’s a great trove of historical information, a real-time source of insight into how a certain segment of the American political community understood, reacted to and thought about political and news events as they unfolded.

There are so many of them that it’s hard to take stock of them all unless you’re looking at a very narrow point in time. But occasionally I go back and read through them to get a sense of how people reacted to a given event right as it happened, not as we’d come to see it afterward. It’s also been a way for me to get a flavor for what I myself thought since I tend to be more candid in emails than in what I write for public consumption.

With all this said, tonight I went back and read through emails from May 2008 and then others in March. As you’d expect, there are a lot of similarities to what we’re seeing right now.

TPM Reader KM (3/31/08)…

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I’ve given up. I am drowning in the bullshit from the Clinton Campaign. Rendell sucking up to Fox News, there is a diary over at mydd.com calling Obama the “George Wallace” of the left and just now Lanny Davis told Lou Dobbs that if we get to the convention and she is ahead of McCain in the polls, she should be the nominee. The goal posts just moved again. By the time August gets here, it will be cause she wants it. That’s it. She wants it, so she gets it. That’s all the reason she needs.

The Clinton Campaign is making it clear that they will accept nothing less than the nomination. It doesn’t matter how she gets it.

So what do we do? Other than hope Obama doesn’t get blown out in PA? Surrender. Any win of 2 points or more will be all the justification she needs to go on. Accept the inevitable and get used to Nominee Clinton.

TPM Reader SL (3/31/08) …

At this point it is obvious that in her desperation dash to get pushed past the primaries to the convention by any means available, Hillary’s strategy is to ride the tiger, to cultivate the Rush Limbaugh crossover voters, the Scaife crowd, the hard core racists, the folks who watch Fox News, all of whom will vote for McCain or for nobody in November. Once McCain points out that she is pro-choice and he is pro-life, there they all go. I think this is 3 parts self delusion – she thinks they really like her, she can win them over, and 7 parts she faces financial ruin if she can’t make it to the general. I think it isn’t just the ignominy of her campaign being insolvent, I think there must be guarantees and stuff we don’t know about that intertwine the family finances with the campaign. Problem for the democrats is, its a lose-lose. If she crashes and burns on the way to the convention, the train wreck will profoundly undermine the Democrats’ claim to the high ground on financial discipline and generally be so unappealing and so as to challenge Obama to distance himself from it, and if she wins, she wins with an ersatz mandate.

TPM Reader DK (3/31/08) …

I used to come to your site several times a day, you seemed knowledgable and fair. I am sorry to say I have taken your site off my favorites. You seem to have sold out your interigity to the Obama campaign. You have thoroughly trashed, demeaned and tried to ruin Senator Hillary Clinton. Hope you are proud of yourself.

TPM Reader CH (5/20/08) …

The problem with HRC remaining in the race has more to do with the expectations of her supporters than any reality based assesment – cognitive dissonance isn’t the sole province of the Repilican Party. That is very clear at this point in the process. HRC has raised the expectations of those supporters to a level where moving beyond the disappointment will be very hard, impossible for many. And few are talking about expectations and how they differ from reality.

I frankly can’t see how the fervent hopes, especially of many women, are going to be transferred to BHO. It simply can’t be done, especially with HRC’s reliance on the victimization of herself. It will be “just another example of the glass ceiling” or whatever victimizing spin is chosen at the time.

That is her responsibility and that is what is going to hurt the party now and sows the seeds for even greater problems in the future.

TPM Reader SM (5/21/08) …

I noticed that TPM hasn’t posted anything yet on Hillary Clinton’s speech down in Florida today, so I figured I would offer a few thoughts.

I watched her speak on TV, and all I could think afterwards was: “When did Hillary hire Rudy Giuliani as her speechwriter?” Only someone who could invoke 9/11 as their reason for changing stances on gun control would be so audacious as to invoke slavery when bemoaning the Florida and Michigan vote situation.

The whole thing was chock-full of delusional hyperbole and unintentional self-parody — also hallmarks of the Giuliani speaking style. There’s this precious bit of flim-flammery: “I believe the Democratic Party must count these votes. They should count them exactly as they were cast. Democracy demands no less.” Actually, democracy demands more. Much, much more. Democracy demands that elections that everyone agreed would not count actually not count. Honoring the results of a sham election would more accurately be described as a mockery of democracy.

Then there’s this brilliant little nugget, coming right on the heels of Obama’s pledged delegate majority: “We carry on this cause for a simple reason, because we believe the outcome of our elections should be determined by the will of the people ˆ nothing more, nothing less. We believe the popular vote is the truest expression of your will.”

Truthfully, if it had been me, and not Rudy, writing this speech, I’d have had her lead off with: “OK, forget everything you know about democracy…”

TPM AAM (5/21/08) …

First of all, congratulations on your beautiful new baby boy. I’m so glad you posted the pix.

As you may or may not recall I’ve been a staunch Hillary supporter, wearing the Hillary gear since early last Spring. I read TPM daily, and as the race has gone on between Hillary and Obama, I’ve been finding myself liking Obama less and less. At first my thinking was “I’m a democrat, I’ll vote for the nominee”, but as its gone on my discomfort with Obama has grown. I just figured out why. Its not because of the candidate. It’s because of the steady stream of insulting (to Hillary and here supporters) comments I read and hear from the Obama supporters. I remember when I was canvassing in NH, a woman declined to say who she was voting for, we said “thank you very much, and sorry to trouble you”, She stopped us and said she had been visited by two sets of Obama supporters, and when she declined to say who she was voting for they were both incredibly rude to her, one cursing her as he left her home. The comments from Obama supports on the TPM web site are also regulalry very mean spirited. What I have to do now is stop reading the comments and separate my opinion of Obama from that of his supporters in order to make an intelligent decision in November.

TPM Reader CH (5/22/08) …

Thank you for your post today. I too see Clinton’s antics as a way to foment anger and disillusionment among her supporters, and the clear recognition of this gambit is making me feel nauseous. Not to get too dramatic about it, but this is kind of like suspecting your girlfriend is cheating on you compared to actually catching her in the act. I doubted that Hillary would want to sabotage Obama’s chances in the general election, but this makes clear that’s precisely what she is doing. Now, I’ve never had some severe dislike of Clinton before today, but with all of the news of Bill Clinton pushing to get Hillary on the ticket, and with her statements comparing Florida to Zimbabwe, I have lost my respect of her, and I am worried that this is going to harm Democrats not just in the general election but in down-ballot races as well. At some point you just lose your trust and your respect of someone. Today I’m through with thinking that Hillary is someone even remotely capable of integrity or honesty. This is as crass and low-down as it gets, and it’s starting to make me ill.

TPM Reader NK (5/22/08) …

Thank you for saying that, Josh. It needed to be said. It needs to be said as often and loudly as possible, in fact.

I have been of the opinion, not shared by many of my fellow Obama supporters, that there is nothing wrong with Clinton staying in until after the primaries are over and the supers declare. However, this kind of thing needs to stop. I hope some of the supers take a look at this, and start to pick up the pace on declarations. I’d like to see it get to the point where there are enough supers declared for Obama where he wins even with Michigan and Florida fully seated.

The thing I worry about, though, is that even if that happens, Clinton still holds the party hostage to some degree. By ginning up such strong sentiments that this thing was “stolen” from her – a sentiment that would be laugh-out-loud funny if the consequences weren’t so deadly serious – she is unleashing something that only she can call back. I have been very distressed about this since yesterday. This thing is starting to look very Shakespearean, and I’m worried that after all the dead are accounted for, the last man standing will be John McCain.

TPM Reader TH (5/22/08) …

Josh – Thank god – you finally got it!

This is where she has been headed ever since she took up the wholly specious “popular vote” idea. She has been setting herself up to be Al Gore and claim it was stolen – and finally someone else sees it besides me. That is why she hasn’t dropped out. She can’t claim it was stolen, like it was from Al Gore, if she drops out.

Thanks for saving me from a stroke out of sheer frustration.

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