I have a LOT of issues with Ronald Reagan, but his commandment "Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill Of Fellow Party Members" is one that the Democrats would do well to take to heart. Not to mention that this kind of circular firing squad is really insulting to those of us (namely, would be voters) who know that framing it this way might make Republicans feel better, but just really is not so reality-based.
Newsday (h/t Taylor Marsh)
In a speech this afternoon in central Iowa, Barack Obama seems to have widened his criticism of the politics of the past to encompass not only Hillary Clinton but John Kerry and Nobel Laureate Al Gore.
Making an argument for his electability, Obama said, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats -- we've done that in 2004, 2000," according to a person at the event.
Update: A lot of commenters seem to think that Obama's statement is fine. Absolutely your prerogative to think so; however, from my point of view, it looks like Obama is playing into Republican framing:
1) Gore did not alienate half of the voters in 2000; Gore won the popular vote. The election was given to Bush by the Supreme Court. It is Republican revisionist history that it was a close election when there is evidence of election tampering and extra-constitutional decisions on the part of SCOTUS. Further, how much does it help woo Democratic votes to push a Republican meme and discredit a recent Nobel Peace Prize winner and extremely popular public figure?
2) Kerry did not alienate half of the voters in 2004. More Americans voted for Kerry in 2004 than voted for any other candidate in US history, save for (allegedly) GWB. Again, there is demonstrable evidence of election tampering. Why push the Republican meme that Kerry was just so unlikable? Kerry's problems did not stem with his electability, as evidenced by his votes, but by his unwillingness to challenge the election results.
3) It is ALWAYS a bad idea to serve up a soundbyte to your Republican opponents that reinforces THEIR campaigning. ALWAYS. See Reagan's quote above. No matter who ends up with the Democratic nod (and for every ridiculous conspiracist in the comments, C&L is not endorsing ANY candidate; we have received no compensation from a campaign or group), that quote may haunt the candidate--including if it's Barack, by painting the country as far more divided than we really are. Poll after poll show that there is a substantial approval for a progressive agenda in the country, why not stand for that without detraction?
The nature of caucusing as a primary means that candidates are vying not only for being the top vote getter but also the second choice of others, and if the polling is correct, Obama is pushing this frame to woo the center over progressives. Again, a valid political strategy, but not necessarily one that I agree with. Bill W elaborates:
While the Obama camp has earned itself quite a bit of criticism over the last week or so for running to the right of his counterparts, if the Des Moines Register's latest poll is correct, and although it has a very strong track record its conclusion that nearly 50% of Iowa's Democratic caucus-goers will be independents and republican crossovers has understandably raised some doubts, that strategy may turn out to work for team Obama.
Trying to grab the center may seem surprising for a primary, but maybe not for a caucus like Iowa's. It all depends on a multitude of factors like the weather and whose field operation is better and even then it may come down more to who people's second choice on who to caucus for when their first choice doesn't garner the needed 15% . Who would have ever guessed a couple of months ago it would be this close at this point? The Democratic Party process for the Iowa caucus is quite complicated but it does have a history for picking the eventual presidential nominee. We'll all be watching to see how it plays out this time.