Fever-induced presidential campaign questions
I’m home sick today, perhaps because my body can’t deal with the sudden halt in presidential debates and primary returns, but I do have two fever-induced questions about the Democatic race:First, how does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fit into the debate over supposed sexism and double standards as applied to Hillary Clinton? Pelosi is now the highest ranking Democrat in the nation, and if Clinton is elected president, the two most powerful figures in American politics will both be women. (This is assuming that Clinton does not cede Cheney-like powers to her running mate.) As the person charged with getting Clinton’s proposals through the House, Pelosi could emerge as a powerful speaker in the vein of Tip O’Neill and Newt Gingrich. How does Pelosi’s rise fit with the idea that the Democratic party establishment is biased against women? Has media coverage of Pelosi (outside of hardcore Republican news outlets) been tainted by sexist stereotypes? And why isn’t Barack Obama constantly saying how much he’s looking forward to working with Pelosi?
Second, does Obama really have a good answer to the charge that he can’t carry major states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania in the general election? It would certainly be impressive if he could win a deep red state such as Kansas, but that would hardly make up for the loss of Pennsylvania. And if he loses the white vote in the Keystone State as badly as he did in Ohio, the Clinton campaign’s "he can’t win" argument, while obviously self-serving, would have some credibility to it. Going into Pennsylvania (and a possible re-vote in Michigan), I think it’s obvious that Obama has to lay off the "yes, we can" commercials and use one of the hokiest ad pitches in American politics: "talking head" ads featuring white guys in hard hats and white women in nurses’ uniforms. Endorsements from elected officials aren’t going to help him much, but saying, "This person who could be your neighbor has taken a hard look at me and decided I would make the best president" might carry more weight.