16 March 2008

Month-old video on campaign still timely

This video of a discussion among four New Yorker writers about the Democratic Party race for the nomination is over a month old, but it's still timely, and it contains both funny moments and eloquent moments.

Panelists are Hendrick Hertzberg, Elizabeth Kolbert, Ryan Lizza, and Jeffrey Toobin. The moderator is The New Yorker editor David Remnick (a hero of mine since I read his 1998 Resurrection on post-Soviet Russia).

The video is long. For readers short of time, here are some highlights:
  • Hertzberg: There is very little programmatic or ideological difference between Hillary and Obama. "So, it's really not about the words in this campaign; it's about the music."
  • Hertzberg: "There's a soap opera here--there's a Clinton Family drama--that I think the country would just as soon--or at least I would just as soon--not be on the front of the national agenda for the next eight years."
  • Kolbert, comparing Obama and Hillary: "She's the class grind; he's the cool kid in the class."
  • Lizza: Hillary's campaign is freer, more open, messier than Obama's. Hillary staffers can speak to Toobin about the campain anonymously without fear of being sniffed out and muzzled later by "leak hunters." The tight discipline in the Obama camp is Bush-like.
  • Remnick: It's also Nixon-like.
  • Toobin: "This election is shaping up as a Democratic landslide."
  • Toobin: Whoever wins the Democratic nomination, the Democrats will have tens of millions of dollars more than John McCain. McCain's campaign raised $10 million in all of January; Obama and Hillary raised $10 million each in the first week after Super Tuesday.
  • Remnick: The press adores McCain, because of all the access that he gives them and his sense of humor.
  • Toobin: Evangelical Christian Republicans will not work for John McCain. They did work for Bush, and only because of their help did Bush win. Ergo, McCain will probably lose.
  • Kolbert: "'I'm the guy who can keep you safe.'That's what John McCain is running on." Hence a foreign policy crisis would be a boon to him.
  • Kolbert and Lizza: Obama's weakness is public doubt as to whether he's ready to be commander-in-chief. So a foreign policy crisis such as a terror attack, with its potential to underscore Obama's foreign policy inexperience, is the Obama camp's worst nightmare.
  • Kolbert: If Hillary becomes the nominee, that would be great for McCain ... "because then all the anti-Hillary people who are now trashing McCain can go back to their first love, which is trashing Hillary."
  • Lizza: "I think that the McCain camp fears Obama more than they fear Hillary. They think that Hillary is the known quantity; they understand how to run against her; they understand her strengths and weaknesses. And I think that they fear that in a race against Obama, the press and the country will get swept up in a sense of history, and that they never really get a fair hearing. That the Obama phenomenon, it doesn't end with the primaries, but that his victory in the primaries will just be the beginning of a sort of launch. And that he could have so much upside potential that, even though the polls show a very close race now, it's never a real race."

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