Remember the 3 a.m. phone call? Now you can get one at all hours!
One of the more controversial (in terms of invoking readers’ comments) posts I’ve published was this one (cross-posted here) arguing that from a Democrat’s perspective, there were good reasons why Hillary Clinton should challenge Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2012. The post elicited a good deal of give-and-take among readers, and I thought the issue was thoroughly vetted.
But it won’t die. Every once in a while I’ll get a spike in readership, and it is almost always driven by a republishing of that post somewhere that attracts new viewers.
Two days ago it happened again. This time I suspect the initial culprit was this op-ed piece by Democratic pollsters Pat Caddell and Dough Schoen advocating a nation-wide “Draft Hillary” movement, beginning in New Hampshire. (Caddell used to be Jimmy Carter’s pollster, and Schoen worked for Hillary in 2008). This follows an earlier piece they published in the Wall St. Journal suggesting that Obama emulate LBJ’s 1968 decision to step down for the good of the party. In the latest publication, they argue: “It’s clear that Obama has been unable to build consensus and, with the polarizing campaign he is now running, will be unable to govern effectively even if reelected. Only Clinton can commit the Democratic Party — and, indeed, the nation — to a unification and healing process. This could allow Washington, in a bipartisan manner, to finally address the economic and governmental crises that now grip America.”
In the following video, Caddell expands on those points:
They note that there have been previous successful write-in candidates in New Hampshire (Henry Cabot Lodge in 1964, and LBJ in 1968) which, because of its open primary, makes it easier for independents in participate.
The Schoen/Caddell opinion piece was published just as a people across several states began reporting that they were receiving automated calls urging them to support a draft Hillary movement, and directing readers to this draft Hillary site. It is unclear who is behind the website, and who is sending out the robocalls. Here’s the audio version of the robocall, as recorded on one person’s answering machine:
As I noted in my initial post on this topic, there are (or at least were!) legitimate reasons why Democrats should support a Hillary challenge. The most important one, I said at the time, is that it would increase the likelihood that a Democrat would be in the White House in 2012. Since I posted that argument, however, I would suggest that Obama’s reelection chances have improved, at least slightly. This is mostly because there are indicators that the economy is stabilizing, and perhaps even beginning to grow. Unemployment has dropped (and yes, I realize this partly reflects seasonal hiring and the fact that many have stopped looking for jobs), Obama’s approval ratings, while not good, may be inching up and he’s at least settled on a campaign theme that might have some bite. All this is not to say his reelection is assured; right now the forecast models put it at about 50/50. It is to suggest, however, that the “Draft Hillary” movement may be mistimed – if it was to have any traction, it probably should have been put in place a few months back.
A final note to those of you who have already emailed me asking that you be taken off my robocall list – believe it or not, I’m not running the draft Hillary campaign. Nor do I have any idea who is. But whoever is organizing the movement – at some point you should probably check with the candidate herself. She may have other plans.