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.
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.
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