Keith Olbermann talked to Sam Seder about this report from The Hill where it looks like the DSCC is cutting their losses with Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas who is about 20 points behind her Republican challenger. As Keith and Sam discussed, it's expected for the party to back incumbents as they did here, but there was no excuse for the antagonistic attitude towards the unions for them backing Halter. He was the better candidate and would have had a better chance of winning than Lincoln. They would have been better off listening to their base in this case.
And Bill Clinton was one of the worst out there campaigning for Lincoln. I didn't post any of the video back in June because about all I really could have mustered at the time would have been one bleeped expletive after the other ending with telling him to bite me. I was really angry after watching him out on the stump for Lincoln. How's that union bashing working out for you now Bill?
Looks like the unions were not the ones wasting their money, the party establishment was. And now they're throwing their hands up in the air and admitting she can't win. But then we knew that back when we were backing Bill Halter. No one can say he'd have won either but he would have had a better chance than Lincoln does and Halter might have generated some enthusiasm from the base to vote for him. It looks like Arkansas is going to get a Republican that has an R behind their name instead of a D this time around.
Democratic leaders face tough decisions on how much to spend on the campaigns of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and other party candidates whose chances for winning in November seem dim.
Money that goes to Lincoln rather than Democrats thought to have better odds at the polls may be seen as wasted. And it could upset one of the party’s biggest financial supporters, labor unions, which spent millions in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat her in the primary.
Four public polls this month showed the two-term incumbent, who chairs the Agriculture Committee, trailing her Republican challenger by an average of more than 20 points.
Where to prioritize Lincoln’s race is one of several difficult decisions Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) Chairman Robert Menendez (N.J.) has to make to fend off an anticipated anti-incumbent wave in November. Read on...
Transcript from last Friday's Countdown below the fold.
OLBERMANN: The Democratic party establishment may be facing the very real possibility that the incumbent senator in Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln, cannot win. In our third story tonight, the fight or lack thereof to retain that seat and the implications for the Democratic strategy at large. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is beginning to face such tough choices, like whether to spend money on Senator Lincoln‘s campaign, when polls over the past month place her about 20 points behind her Republican opponent.
An unnamed senior aide on the Democratic Senatorial Committee telling “The Hill,” quote “Lincoln won‘t get millions and millions of dollars, but she‘ll get more than a token. She might get more if she tightens up the race.” Comparing Senator Lincoln to another incumbent, Senator Boxer of California, “we‘ll spend on Boxer. She‘ll get the money she needs. A Republican senator from Arkansas? We can deal with that. A Republican senator from California? That‘s not going to happen.”
The Democratic strategist helping with Senator Lincoln‘s campaign, Robert McClarty (ph) said that internal polling shows a closer race. You may recall that the chairman of the DSCC, Senator Robert Menendez, had been typical among the Democratic party establishment in calling Senator Lincoln the best candidate for the general election back when there was still a chance of supporting somebody else. Namely Lincoln‘s Democratic primary opponent, Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. After Halter‘s narrow loss, an unnamed White House official said, quote, “organized labor just flushed 10 million dollars of their member‘s money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.”
Let‘s bring in political satirist Sam Seder, co-author of “Fubar, America‘s Right Wing Nightmare.” Sam, good evening.
SAM SEDER, AUTHOR, “FUBAR”: How are you, Keith?
OLBERMANN: This is the flash point—one of the flash points of party regulars versus progressives. And I‘m guessing the progressives are being proved correct in Arkansas. Would Halter be fairing better than 20 points down?
SEDER: I mean, all the evidence points to that. I mean, I think prior to the primary, Halter had better numbers against Boozman. And like you mentioned, Lincoln‘s numbers haven‘t moved at all. And he had better favorables. So I think there‘s every reason to believe. Plus, you would have had all the union support.
OLBERMANN: Reading the tea leaves, is the establishment, which now decided that that was not going happen, that she was the best candidate and Bill Halter was some sort of interloper—are they now abandoning Blanche Lincoln to her fate?
SEDER: Yes, I think when you see a story like that in “The Hill” saying that she‘s not going to get a token amount, it usually means she‘s going to get a token amount. I mean, I think it‘s pretty obvious. A story like this comes out. It‘s basically setting the table, unless something dramatic happens.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, something dramatic can happen. The polls can change. The majority leader, Mr. Reid, is an example of somebody who is now fairing much better in his own re-election efforts, albeit against a—the seven veils of the Tea Party being unwrapped in Nevada with good old Mrs. Engel. Is there time for Senator Lincoln to turn this around when it‘s 20 points?
SEDER: I suppose theoretically. But that‘s the point. There is no Sharron Angle in Arkansas. And short of like a—some time of bathroom scandal, I just don‘t see how she does it. The polls haven‘t moved in three or four months.
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OLBERMANN: What was—in retrospect is there any explanation for that antagonistic right after the primary about organized labor just flushed 10 million dollars of their member‘s money down a toilet in a pointless exercise? Any explanation for why anybody in the White House, unless they were a Republican mole or somebody left over from the Bush administration, why anybody would say that about the unions or the voters in Arkansas who supported Lieutenant Governor Halter?
SEDER: I guess because they‘re not smart. I mean, you know, the bottom line is that had Democrats listened to their base, they would have a better candidate there. And you look on the Republican side, they listened to their base, and they‘ve actually helped the Democrats out. You have Paul and Angle, and that‘s the most interesting dynamic between the two parties‘ establishment.
OLBERMANN: In a bigger picture, the election cycle was obviously unfavorable to incumbents long before the last couple of weeks when the polls got so dramatic in Arkansas. Is the Democratic party, the hierarchy, now going to wish that it had not so automatically backed incumbent during the primary phase, and, as you suggest, listened to the base or just listened to what was being said about Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas?
SEDER: I suppose, but I can‘t imagine they‘re going to admit that. I mean, the fact is that the base was basically supporting a guy like Halter not just because he was more progressive, but because they saw him he had a better chance of winning. So now they‘re stuck with Blanche Lincoln, and, you know, she‘s off voting against health care, voting against—or to maintain George Bush‘s tax cuts. I would hope they had some remorse, but I can‘t imagine they would ever express it.
OLBERMANN: Is there any lesson, do you think, the hierarchy has learned out of that?
SEDER: No. They could have, but I don‘t think they will. I think there‘s too many people who have too much pride. And they—frankly, they have to maintain some measure of we were right, so that, you know, they maintain their power in the administration.
OLBERMANN: Plus, the number one job of being an incumbent is to make sure incumbents stay incumbent. Sam Seder, great thanks. Have a great weekend.
SEDER: Thank you. You too, Keith.