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Our telcon with Hillary

Nah, let me restart.* Yesterday -- and I know that makes this old news -- I was on the Fung Wa bus from Boston to New York on my way to a family memorial service. (One of the many wonderful things about Chinese buses -- besides the $15 one-way fare that puts me well into Hillary's demo -- is that everybody, but everybody uses cell phones, and it's so noisy, it's quiet. Plus, most of the shouting is in Chinese, so I hear it as interesting music, rather than noise.)

So, I joined Hillary's conference call, as arranged by good guy Peter Daou, with some of the bloggers who support her, as my Chinese bus made its way through the decaying infrastructure of Queens. Since I've got just a few minutes before I have to leave for the service, all I can do is give are some quick personal impressions and a few high points from the notes I scribbled, hunched over against the window so I could hear, on covers and pages ripped from Richard Morgan's Broken Angels:

First and foremost, she made the call and had the conversation. The contrast between Hillary, who took the time to talk to a small group of bloggers with readership from C list upwards, and Obama, who doesn't read blogs, is instructive.

Second, I'm didn't pick up a graceful withdrawal subtext**. At all. She "won't walk off the court" before the final buzzer sounds.

Third, Hillary talked several times about the "arguments" that we bloggers make, and how useful they are -- which is what I, as an old-school blogger, like to think the blogosphere is all about; the clash of ideas in the agora or public square. Of course, that could be flattery, but isn't it nice to be flattered for making an appeal to reason?

Finally, this is a very, very smart woman indeed. Totally focused, and, without seeming driven, very, very hard working. Believe nothing that our famously free press writes of Hillary, neither the narratives, or the personal characteristics, without quadruple-checking it against primary sources. I mean, if you were a guy that Jack Welch gave a lot of money to fluff him, wouldn't you, deep down, know just how you got your job, the exact services you perform to keep it, and wouldn't you hate anyone who could see through it all? And who just might have something to say about the old boi networking that produced that outcome? Asked how she copes with the engineered hatred, the misogyny, and the abuse, Hillary answers: "I'm impervious." Admirable. Would we could all be.

As to the points that the campaign would no doubt like me to convey, let me paraphrase (only the quoted material is Hillary):

1. "It's the map, not the math". Meaning that the only metric that the SDs should consider -- and I know this will seem almost childishly simple-minded -- is the metric that will lead to victory in the fall. The popular vote conveys a degree of legitimacy, and here she has pulled into a slight lead (50K, counting all states, as democrats should), but only the electoral college really matters: Here, Hillary has 300 EVs, Obama only 217. "I have a cushion." "I will, he could." And I'm seduced not just by the logic -- I suspect that Hillary's demographic, like me, does not have an appetite for risk, these days -- but by the framing. Whoever framed "It's the map, not the math" has a job waiting for them in the blogosphere when the campaign is over!

2. The Hillary campaign is totally committed to seating FL and MI. It's "inexplicable" [Oh, really?] that the party has not figured out a way to enfranchise these voters. (Check other links below for more detail on this important, tricky issue.)

3. The more the media tries to dictate the anti-Hillary narrative, and tries to make the Presidential pick for itself, "the more resistant" people become. "It's a very sore spot." See the ad in USA Today: "Not so fast!"

4. OR TV station sets up a Town Hall, offers Hillary half an hour, Obama half an hour. Obama declines. So she'll take the whole hour! [lambert: Is this really what we're looking for in a President? The ability to duck?]

OK, gotta run and iron a shirt. More later, I hope.

More exhaustive coverage is here. A podcast is here.

NOTE * Discarded lead: "Taking a few moments out from my busy day running a racist hate-fest..." Just sayin.

NOTE ** The argument could be made that I wouldn't; but the TV viewers among us have yet to provide concrete data to back up their thesis that this is what's going on.

UPDATE I did get to speak, and it was funny how she pronounced my name: Lambert! with exclamation point, for pleasure, definitely included. It reminded me so much of how I was greeted at Eschacon; exactly the same intonation. And the pleasurable recognition as unexpected here, as there. Alas, we were cut off from the call before my question was answered -- I guess I won't need to apply for the ambassadorship, then -- but if I can get the answers, I'll post them here.

UPDATE Various stylistic fixes. Out to greet the family....

UPDATE Anglachel, as usual, sees more deeply:

I was impressed that the entire conversation was on the record and that no one was pre-screened for questions. She was ready to handle anything we could (quickly) throw at her.

Exactly. She can think on her feet and take a punch. Any wonder Barack "No Mas" Obama is trying to impress us all with his extremely Presidential abilities to back-pedal all over the ring by ducking debates and Town Halls?


She is not going to let the screamers on the TV or in the blogosphere make her quit. She flatly said she was not leaving the contest, no matter how much bloviators like Timmeh, Tweety, the New York Times and WKJM rant and rave. She will not be swiftboated, intimidated, or backed down. She is not ready to make nice so that an unvetted opponent can waltz off with the nomination, and she would never allow herself to be bullied into conceding an election before every last vote had been counted. Considering that Gore and Kerry both conceded rather than be termed sore losers, I'm behind the candidate who will take it to the mat.

Special Bazillion-Dollar Jackpot Happy Hour Triple-Bonus Pony bingo.

No votes yet


elixir's picture
Submitted by elixir on

Hillary, as always, was on point and in depth. The bloggers, yeah, you guys, were terrific. Nice questions Lambert, I'm hoping I'll hear the answer from Hillary soon. Although I think you're request/question as to taking Obama to task on the stump might be counterproductive at this time. I personally think Hillary should focus on Bush/McCain and let Barry sink himself with presumptive speeches and grandstanding. But that' just my opinion. Nice work.

I love this job!

Submitted by lambert on

I wanted Obama schooled on universal health care. There's probably a positive way to do that, but I'm an attack dog....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

intranets's picture
Submitted by intranets on

I've never seen GoDaddy pull a site down so quickly, not even one day grace period.

Anyways, if you add this line to your hosts file you will be fine.


Submitted by lambert on

My error, as the memorial service caught up with me; Leah solved it, so if all is not well now, it should be soon.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

you know you have arrived when someone is spoofing your site.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

by Clinton, I'm sad she didn't have an opportunity to answer your question about Obama's purported May 20 announcement.

During my oppo research at TPM/EC (I never visit the home page in a petty attempt to keep my hits down), I noted that the OC is now saying they are only 17 delegates away and expect to clinch after their humiliating, embarrassing, devastating shellacking in Kentucky. Proving that they indeed believe you can win by losing. IMNHO this view will be helpful to them in November, should they get the nom.

I really want to hear Hillary's response to that arrogant assumption. Especially since it comes before FL and MI are settled.

One observation, you can't listen to that podcast without admitting she is one tough cookie.


Good night and good riddance!

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Great job, Lambert; those White House dinners will be something to look forward to.

Plus fantastic backstory. Scene from a movie. Or theater of the absurd.

Way cool.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Lambert I too wish we could have heard the answer to the question about the May 20th announcement.

But at least you got it in. One thing I'm taking away from this conversation is that Hillary Clinton listens to every single person who talks to her. That she is holding actual conversations with voters. And that she can not only remember what we've said but, she can file the conversations according to the issue.

So, she'll remember that You (speaking for all of us) think the May 20 thing is IMPORTANT. And they won't let it slide.

Has she let anything slide?

Thank you for sharing the story of The Conversation. I felt like I was watching a movie.

Submitted by lambert on

I didn't ask the question to put her on the spot; I asked it because I thought she'd hit it out of the park.

"Senator Obama has every right..." -- heh.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

CognitiveDissonance's picture
Submitted by CognitiveDissonance on

at your Chinese bus trip. I heard the podcast of the call on Taylor Marsh and had wondered what the background noise was when you were speaking. :-)

The whole call was very impressive, not least of which I got to hear the voices and questions of people I read every day, including you and Katiebird and Armando at Talk Left. One of the things that jumped out at me was that Senator Clinton seemed to know and recognize every one of you when you gave your names. Taylor Marsh had a story a few days ago about seeing her at a dinner in DC, and Hillary recognized her and thanked her. I just don't see that kind of appreciation and recognition from Obama, even though he has support from bloggers all over the internet. If she is inaugurated next January, I bet you all get a much deserved invitation!

Submitted by lambert on

The access problems were solved, in my absence, by Leah -- the memorial service thing having blown up for me.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

lambert -

i love that introductory paragraph.

it's a classic.

i've read it three times now, just for the pleasure of reading it.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, but on the other hand, Dr. Johnson says: "Read over your compositions, and where ever you meet with a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out." So, I'll try not to let my head get so big it doesn't fit through a doorway (something I think Sarah warned me about...)

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Sometimes your POV makes me think I should remind you to watch your head just in case someone who might be helping you duck the car roof forgets to, though. Just sayin'.

Travel safe, spend your time with family being well, OK?

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

Submitted by lambert on

I think I remember this from 2004. Kerry. I'd rather not open the door to the room with that memory lurking inside...

279 for Clinton vs. McCain, 237 for Obama. What could go wrong?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BoGardiner's picture
Submitted by BoGardiner on

Like that?

Wait... wait... let me try again...


myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

LAM-bert! LAM-bert! LAM-bert!

“A true friend stabs you from the front” -Oscar Wilde

Submitted by lambert on

.... don't make it worse....

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

Ladies "swoon"

“A true friend stabs you from the front” -Oscar Wilde

FrenchDoc's picture
Submitted by FrenchDoc on

Why, thank you SO MUCH, Myiq, for pointing out my linguistic blunder! ;-)

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

My dissertation is related to myotonia. I've been writing non-stop for several days now and was hoping for a little break right now. Sigh.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

I applaud you for participating in a teleconference with HRC.
I applaud your writing talent. How many times have I wanted to squeal like a fangirl over one of your exquisitely turned phrases? I lost count before I ever realized Atrios' place was but one -- I think maybe Counterspin hadn't shut down the first time, then.

I applaud your daring (the Chinese bus? Dude ... !) and your perseverence (shellac primer AND latex paint DIY? Dude!!!) and I applaud your dedication to family.

I would never suggest anything about ego, head, etc. EXCEPT this: I often fear you don't take care of yourself with anything like the right amount of attention to detail. You're far more interested in the finish on the walls and the grey fuzz on the squash leaves' underside than in your own well-being, and yeah, I'm mom-hen enough to want to push you on that, a little ... ;)

Look, I know you don't have a TV, but get someone to send you a bit-torrent, watch last night's episode of Numb3rs, and promise you won't go all Dr. Charles Eppes PhD in the season-finale on me, okay?

We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill today! ~ Captain James T. Kirk, Stardate 3193.0

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

I see their buses in midtown every day now--more than any other cheap service.

and you should have stayed here today--it's the 9th Ave Festival (it's gone downhill but it's still good if you stick to the local restaurant booths) --

zuzu's picture
Submitted by zuzu on

And I was sorry you didn't get an answer. (As an amusing aside -- I was actually hiding out in a coat closet during the call because I don't currently have a private office and I'm not allowed to hang out in the library while on personal calls; unfortunately, it happened on a rainy/cold day in which people actually wore coats, and at a time when people were getting their coats (and giving me dirty looks for hanging out in the closet).)

I actually wanted to ask her, based on her comments about being "impervious" to the misogyny, and also her response to Lance Mannion's comments about his son's support of her, what she thought about the message that was being sent to children, particularly girls, who see day by day the misogynistic tearing down and dismissal of Clinton as a woman.

I mean, I'm going to be 40 in a few months, and I can remember being dimly aware 30 years ago of international female leaders like Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher, not to mention domestic leaders like Ella Grasso, but I certainly don't recall near the levels of unrelenting hate and fear and misogyny leveled against any of them. How do kids in the US deal with, or process that? Especially given the whole "what will we tell the children" bullshit after the Lewinsky thing (uh, nothing?)? Shouldn't the misogyny, the unrelenting drumbeat of woman-hating, be at least as much of a scandal as one little blowjob?

Submitted by cg.eye on

"Considering that Gore and Kerry both conceded rather than be termed sore losers, I’m behind the candidate who will take it to the mat."

That's the only way to bribe me, folks. Keep the promise to be in it to win it, no matter should we lose. All I want is to have the votes counted -- ALL OF THEM.

becca's picture
Submitted by becca on

and OT at that, but I was over at Feministing reading about Obama's most recent "Sweetie" gaffe and I could not believe the contortions of logic and the defense of Obama's totally inappropriate familiarities. They are more like teenage boy band fans than self-respecting women (for the most part).