Monday, April 28, 2008


Every time I mention Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos, I'm told that Limbaugh is either soaking the rubes or deluding both himself and the rubes into believing that they can sustain the agony on the Democratic side by helping to keep Hillary Clinton's campaign alive. And, yes, it's unlikely that the Limbaughnistas alone have much influence -- there probably aren't enough wingnut crossover voters to tip any Democratic primary.

But I continue to see evidence that the GOP is joining with Limbaugh in this effort. Last week the party prepared an ad, ostensibly aimed at Democratic gubernatorial candidates in North Carolina, that focused on Jeremiah Wright. That was clearly meant to increase the North Carolina turnout for Clinton.

And today we have GOP apparatchik William Kristol, in The New York Times, singing Hillary Clinton's praises, in words that could come from a Clinton campaign press release or a Clinton cultist's blog post:

Hillary Gets No Respect

...The fact is Hillary Clinton has turned out to be an impressive candidate. She has consistently defeated Barack Obama when her back was to the wall -- first in New Hampshire, then in several big primaries on Super Tuesday, on March 4 in Ohio and Texas, and then last week in Pennsylvania, where she was outspent by almost 3 to 1, yet won handily.

...Hillary may well be the better candidate. After all, for all the talk of Obama's extraordinary ability to draw voters to the polls, Clinton has defeated him in the big states, including California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama won his home state of Illinois, but she won Florida, where both were on the ballot but didn’t campaign.

Furthermore, if you add up the votes in all the primaries and caucuses -- excluding Michigan (where only Hillary was on the ballot), and imputing the likely actual totals in the four caucus states, where only percentages were reported -- Clinton now trails in overall votes by only about 300,000, or about 1 percent of the total. By the end of the nominating contest, she may well be ahead on this benchmark -- one not entirely to be scorned in a democracy....

Limbaugh is trying (or, as a ratings stunt, is pretending to try) to affect the vote in primaries. Here's Kristol with a subtler version of that strategy -- he's trying to flip superdelegates.

Oh, and the media, too -- he's playing on elite journalists' eagerness to believe anyone who accuses them of being biased liberals:

Hillary has achieved this despite much disparagement of her candidacy by liberal commentators, and in the face of the media's crush on Obama. Even those who started out being well disposed to Clinton have moved toward Obama, if only out of concern that the prolonged race is damaging Democratic prospects in the fall.

I particularly enjoy this tortured misreading of a somewhat garbled Obama sentence:

Obama understands his advantage with the media, as he perhaps inadvertently demonstrated over the weekend on "Fox News Sunday." In the course of dismissing much pundit commentary for typically overreacting to events, good or bad, Obama explained, "Well, look, after you lose, then everybody writes these anguished columns about, why did you lose?"

Obama chose a nice word: "anguished." You're only anguished by an Obama defeat if you’re rooting for an Obama victory. Obama was tacitly acknowledging that much of the liberal media has been hoping he'd win. Now, they're rooting for him to close the deal.

That's fine. If I were on the left I might be rooting for that too....

Instead, Kristol's on the right, rooting for more chaos. He doesn't admire Hillary. He doesn't believe a word he's typed here. This isn't a radio blowhard's stunt anymore -- it's party strategy.

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