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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The cult of Clinton

    The immense charisma of Sen. Barack Obama has been a boon to him during this election season.

    But it also means that his campaign faces the charge that its supporters are cultists. Detractors say that Obama’s focus on rhetoric betrays the fact that he is all style and no substance. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign in particular has asserted his speeches are “”just words”” and do not offer solutions to the challenges America faces.

    This argument ignores two facts. First, Obama was criticized early in his campaign for being too policy-dense and too sparse on inspiration. His speeches still contain plenty of specific policy ideas, and his Web site is chock full of them. Second, the Clinton cult is significantly stronger than that of Obama.

    This last bit may come as a shock to you, but the facts are not kind to the Clinton campaign.

    A March 26 Gallup Poll showed that only 19 percent of Obama backers will vote for Sen. John McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee, whereas 28 percent of Clinton supporters will pick McCain if Obama wins. These numbers don’t support the idea that so-called “”Obamabots”” have been hypnotized. They uphold the opposite hypothesis: Clinton’s supporters will shut out a rival who is nearly identical policy-wise, out of devotion to her and spite for her opponent.

    As recently as late January, polls showed Clinton in a decisive lead over Obama. For more than a year, she had been viewed with an air of inevitability. Some of her supporters feel as though they’ve been cheated by the system.

    Perhaps no one exemplifies this attitude better than Clinton’s campaign staff. Campaign strategist James Carville referred to Gov. Bill Richardson as “”Judas”” for his endorsement of Obama last week. Richardson’s response to Carville was that this reasoning is typical of the sense of entitlement the Clinton campaign feels.

    Clintonistas have been extremely willing to capitalize on minor issues in Obama’s career. The Tony Rezko meme is still circulating within the blogosphere, and Clinton supporters jumped all over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright story, as well as Obama supposedly “”throwing his grandmother under a bus”” during his March 18 speech on race. They’re still attacking Obama’s status as a professor at the University of Chicago law school despite statements from the university which verify his claims.

    The irony of this is apparently lost on them. News networks have been kind in not focusing on Hillary’s supposed years of experience, other than her laughably inaccurate “”misspeech”” regarding her 1996 trip to Bosnia – and the unwillingness of Obama and McCain to run negative campaigns has contributed to this. To paraphrase theologian Jonathan Edwards, the black clouds of the media’s wrath hang directly over Hillary’s head, and were it not for the restraining hands of her rivals, it would immediately burst forth upon her.

    Add to this the fact that it is almost impossible for Clinton to win the Democratic nomination and the evidence is very clear that Clintonistas are much more cultish, on average, than Obamabots.

    Both candidates will need to rely on superdelegates to secure the nomination. For Clinton to win, superdelegates would effectively have to tell Democrats, and African-Americans in particular, that even though their candidate of choice won the popular vote, the state tally and the pledged delegate count, and even though polls repeatedly show he is more likely to win against McCain in November, he is not getting the nomination.

    As Politico columnists Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen have pointed out, such an event would spur an unprecedented backlash from the party’s most consistent supporters. The idea that the race is a close one is a story largely manufactured by the media. Even Clinton’s advisers know that her chances of victory are very slim.

    The fanatical and misguided support of Clinton by her fans, combined with her very low chances of success, make it clear that her supporters are far more likely to be deluded by false hopes and pseudo-demagoguery than Obama’s are.

    All of this isn’t to say that there aren’t good reasons to vote for Clinton. Her position on health care is probably superior (though Obama’s plan is more likely to be passed). And this isn’t to say that all Clinton supporters are cultists – only some are, and intelligent Democrats can certainly have rational disagreements over who the best candidate is and why.

    But the Obama cult argument has been passed around long enough. It appeared in last week’s “”Mailbag”” and it’s festering all over the Internet despite the fact that there is no truth to it whatsoever. Cut it out already.

    Taylor Kessinger is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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