Thursday, June 01, 2006

No, Wait . . .
A comment on this morning's post directed me to a Media Matters analysis of the poll I wrote about--and according to that analysis, ABC and the Washington Post misreported what the poll said in order to play up Hillary's presumed unelectability.

As usual, Media Matters' analysis is persuasive, at least about the misrepresentation of the data. (In my defense, I went looking for raw poll data before I wrote the post and couldn't find it, but there's no guarantee that if I'd found it, I'd have written a better post, because I suck, really.) However, the point that Hillary would in fact be competitive with McCain doesn't make me feel much better. The mere fact that ABC misrepresented the poll at Hillary's expense is evidence for my contention that she will have to fight a hostile media in any election campaign.

And let me be clear: I count myself among the percentage of Americans who admire Hillary. I think she's eminently qualified to be president, and I am confident that she could handle the demands of the job--even before the current Resident of the United States lowered the bar for competency. But a national campaign involving Hillary would be about many, many other things before it got down to questions of qualifications and competency, if it ever got down to those things at all. If, knowing this, Democrats rush to nominate Hillary anyhow, nobody should be surprised if the campaign becomes Swift Boats on Parade, or complain if few voters seem to be deciding based on pocketbook issues, or security issues, or whatever. True, the campaign might not descend to a referendum on personality. But if it does, anyone who's surprised or upset by it deserves a smack upside the head.

That voters might choose their leaders on the basis of their electability isn't exactly what the Founders had in mind when they designed the system. And honesty compels me to admit that I criticized those who supported John Kerry in the 2004 primary season largely for his electability (compared to my guy, Howard Dean, who was perceived by many as unelectable). But Hillary Clinton is a special case. She inspires what blackdogred calls "pure genuine primal hate" on a scale that makes Repug disdain for Kerry and Gore seem like sweet Christian love. That's a factor Democrats cannot afford to ignore. In the 2008 campaign, Hillary's electability is an issue. Perhaps the issue. Even if things aren't as dark as ABC and the Post have painted them this week.

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