Why Hillary Clinton Lost the Democratic Nomination to Obama and Why She Will Lose Again to Elizabeth Warren

The Corporate Media anointed Hillary Clinton as the first female president long ago.  She was certain to be the nominee of the Democratic or should I say “Democrat” party in 2008.  All you had to do was read the New York Times or watch CNN and after a few weeks you knew her place in history was assured.  Corporate America and the multinational businesses that wield almost unchallenged influence or perhaps control over the political process of the USA were completely happy with her.  She was not a threat.   John Edwards was a threat.  He talked like RFK.  He mentioned words like equality and poverty.  Kucinich was also liberal and therefore he had to be crushed.  Both were.


Her own campaign saw her as invincible.  However, her campaign was a case of prevent defense gone wild.  For her to lose the lead that she had (38 percent at one time), it took extraordinary skill and cunning execution.  Only the brilliance of Mark Penn born January 15, 1954 could be counted on to ride Secretariat to certain defeat.  How could he do this?  How could he and she achieve the unachievable in 2008?  And why will Hillary Clinton likely be vulnerable again?   Maybe the date of Penn’s birth explains it all.  

Many a word has been wasted in ink and pixel in vain attempts to attribute her loss to whatever the author’s pet theme is or whatever corporate America needs to hear to make it feel reassured. 

Before taking my own guess, I would like to examine and debunk some other theories most of which are nonsense.  First there is the idea that Clinton did not lose the election but rather Obama won.  He simply had a greater appeal to Democrats than she did.  His organization was better.  And finally his style impressed voters.  And most weirdly he had an advantage because he was black.  However, that is not reality.  


His message of “change”, whatever that is, was for the general election.  Primary voters are focused on issues, so this simple mantra (while resonating with the ignorant masses and reassuring to Wall Street that there is no progressive movement which threatens their money and power) did not win him primaries in California and caucuses in other states where issues matter.  Change is advertising.  It is not a position on an issue or a meaningful statement.  It is just a sound bite and a simple advertisement repeated over and over.  The word “change” did not defeat Hillary Clinton.  That his organization was better is self-evident. His style though was of a form that would appeal to some but not all voters.  The fact is primary voters are focused on the issues and once the two true liberals were out of the running, the most educated and informed backers of Edwards and Kucinich had to make the choice between Obama and Clinton.  They chose Obama.  Why?  How did this right wing Democrat get the most liberal Democrats to pass over Hillary and vote for him?


Other theories blame the voters.  Claire McCaskill drew the odd conclusion that the liberal Democrats who voted for Obama and not Clinton were sexist.  If they had voted for Hillary undoubtedly they would have been racist.  Some claim that Obama got the black vote and this tilted the elections in his favor.  But actually Hillary did well in the elections and poorly in the caucuses.  So that theory seems a little off the wall.  And didn’t a few women support Hillary because she was a woman?  So that seems to be a remarkably illogical reason for her loss.  And as it turns out over 50 percent of the voters are woman and blacks in the party make up about 20 percent of the primary voters.  And in all probability more than half of the blacks are woman who may if voting based on gender or race have chosen a fellow female over a male of the same race.  At any rate that does not seem like it would have cost her the election.  The votes that cost her the election came from Edwards and Kucinich supporters.  Both men ran to the left of both Clinton and Obama so it is likely that their supporters were neither racist or sexist but rather progressive in their thinking.  


True her campaign did make a series of mistakes and was over-confident. But the key fact is that as the herd thinned supporters of the liberal candidates shifted not to Clinton but to Obama.  And this same phenomenon could repeat itself this next election.


If a progressive woman such as Elizabeth Warren runs for the Democratic Party’s nomination she would neutralize the obvious advantage Hillary has among her own sex.  


That is the danger her campaign will face again this cycle.  She lost to Obama because her campaign completely underestimated the extent to which the voters in her party despised the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Her position on the war never resonated with the liberals of the party.  She was in line with the Wall Street supporters of the war, the New York Times Democrats who supported the war and the New York City elites who being fervently pro Israel supported any and all attempts to destabilize and weaken Arab powers.  Basically she supported the war at worst, and at best, thought it was a tactical error or mistake.  Strangely she had no emotional connections with the anti-war movement who opposed trading blood for oil and serving the interests of the American empire.  She lived through the sixties and was clearly a left wing activist with notable achievements but somehow the anti-war fervor dried up as she became more powerful.  Now the sixties are a distant memory for her.  She has surrounded herself with corporate democrats who falsely believed that the Republicans were the party of oil and gas so the Democrats could become the party of Wall Street.  Wall Street has no loyalty to anyone.  If in the next election cycle she persists in again using Penn, Lieberman supporters like Lanny Davis and other right wingers like Howard Wolfson her campaign will again lose progressive voters.  


The media never covered the anti-war demonstrations.  Since the cancellation of the Fairness doctrine by Right Wing Zeus, Ronald Reagan, the media has gradually abandoned news altogether and offers only infotainment and pro-corporate stories.  What is good for International Corporate Super Powers is good for the Media.  The CEO of Exxon announced proudly that Exxon was its own entity beholden to no country with its own security forces and its own agenda.  Companies like Exxon advertise not to get business but to make sure stories that reflect negatively on them or interfere with their lust for money are not run on television.  Since war is amazingly profitable anti-war themes are rarely covered in today’s media.  And unfortunately insular people like Hilary Clinton don’t get a sense that there are millions of anti war votes out there.  And that these are passionate voters.


The coverage of the war in Viet Nam actually showed people a little bit of what war was really like.  The news was horrible to see.  Today most of the younger generation thinks that war and video games are about the same.  And this is just fine with the corporate media.  Stopping wars would lead to a discussion of issues like poverty and education.  Money from taxes would go to social programs for people not huge arms dealers, mercenaries, prisons and war manufacturers.  In the years leading up to and after the Gulf war anyone who said the wars were not justified was fired.  Phil Donahue (Donahue) was MSNBC’s most popular show.  The network fired him because he spoke out against the war.  Jesse the Brain or Body Ventura was hired by MSNBC.  The entertaining personality was given his own show.  He was paid a salary for a season but as soon as MSNBC found out the Navy Seal was against the Iraq war his show was cancelled and never even shown once.  Later Keith Olbermann would share their fate.  He had the most popular show on MSNBC but it was cancelled because his criticism of the wars was found to be at odds with the larger goals of corporate America.  


That is the environment that Hillary Clinton lives in.  There are no antiwar voices.  There are no people who are calling for an end to the American Empire.  There are no people calling for a new Glass-Steagall act.  She is surrounded by those heavily invested in the empire.  Wall Street loves any and all wars and hates all progressive programs.  When you sleep with dogs…


So from her perspective and the campaign run by Mark Penn the anti-war movement and the people focused on ending that war and all the others, and not starting any more, those people were inconsequential.  Most of them were supporting either Edwards or Kucinich.  When those two candidates became non-factors the majority of their supporters voted for Obama because he gave the appearance of being anti-war.  


After all Hillary’s New York supporters on Wall Street were more likely to be for the war than against it. Since the anti-war movement was invisible Hillary probably never even thought about it.  To this day she defends her vote for the Iraq war.  She never said the Iraq war was wrong, never said her vote was wrong and never said if she had to do it over she would have done everything she could to stop the invasion of Iraq.  


Mark Penn the architect of the plan to present Hilary as a seasoned Cold Warrior and Hawk was born in 1954.  He never had to make any life or death choices about Viet Nam.  He was not part of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.  Thus as he saw Edwards and Kucinich drop out of the primary election, he made no move to try to win their supporters.  In fact he treated them with contempt.  


That is why Hilary Clinton lost the election to Barack Obama.  Obama smartly had made one speech opposing the war prior to its inception.  He did not have to vote on the war because he was not in the Senate then.  How do you think he would have voted?  Wisely he let people believe he was to the left of Clinton on war issues.  He gave the impression he would have opposed the vote for the Gulf War.  Edwards had the courage to admit he was wrong.  And said that he would now oppose the war.  Obama let people believe what they wanted to believe.  And liberals were convinced the country was ready for a second FDR.  And they were right.  Had Obama passed progressive programs when he was first elected and had a majority of significance in both houses we would be well on our way to a more prosperous middle class.  But like Clinton he was really a centrist uninterested in substantial change.  He was just smart enough to pretend otherwise for a little while.  


Neither Clinton nor her advisors wanted to win the votes of liberals.  They had a general election strategy from the outset and were running to the right to appeal to the media and the sliver of voters that could be delivered by CNN and MSNBC.  Lieberman a close Clinton ally completely abandoned the party.  Other Clinton operatives worked for Fox News.  Why she thought moving to the extreme right was a way to win a democratic primary will be forever a mystery.  Penn on the other hand never struggled to make sense of Viet Nam.  He was of Obama’s tweener generation more tuned in to the “Greed is Good” culture than the “Make Love Not War” ethic of the Baby Boomers.  Clinton grew up a child of privilege.  The war would never touch her, her opposition was intellectual not visceral.  Bill drew a high number in the lottery and seemed to put Viet Nam on the back burner for him.  Hillary was more interested in social causes in the sixties than stopping the war though she did take part in some anti-activities it was not the driving force for her.  


That is why she lost the 2008 primary to Obama and why she will be vulnerable again should she decide to run in 2012.  Running as a Cold war centrist hawk won’t win her Democratic primaries.  She is lucky that she withdrew as Secretary of State.  If she were talking like Kerry now, she would not have a prayer. 

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