Will Clinton Attack Obama At Convention With a Claw Hammer?

Look, I understand there are legitimate ways of looking at American politics that are very different from mine. And I also know very well that when you are writing on deadline, you don’t necessarily have time to track down links or documentation to every assertion you make.

But Lord-a-mighty, I just read an op-ed column from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by someone named Salena Zito that is just an endless web of invention and assertion that is remarkably unspoiled by a speck of empirical data. Its thesis is that “Clinton Democrats” (which in an astonishing burst of ignorance she identifies with “Reagan Democrats”) despise Barack Obama and hate the godless socialist direction the Democratic Party has taken under his leadership, and even though they held their noses and voted for him in 2008, they are ready to revolt en masse.

She quotes a few of these people, but provides no evidence whatsoever that they are representative of a significant group of actual voters.

As regular readers know, this “Revolt of the Clinton Democrats” meme makes me especially crazy, probably because I was a Clinton Democrat myself from the first time I heard the man make a speech back in about 1984. But forget about me: what about Obama’s Secretary of State? What about the “Clinton Democrats” who are all over the White House and at the top levels of most federal agencies? What about the Big Dawg himself? Are they all just disguising their intent to shiv the 44th president in the back when he least expects it? And if so, how would Salena Zito know anything about it?

The day Zito’s sage column appeared, the weekly Gallup tracking poll showed Obama’s job approval among Democrats standing at 86%, precisely the same level as Clinton’s job approval among Democrats at the same juncture of his presidency. Obama’s job approval among self-identified moderate Democrats was at 81%. Now today a new weekly summary came out showing Obama’s job approval rating among Democrats had plunged all the way down to 83% (and to a shocking, hardly-anyone-left 76% among the moderates). I don’t think Zito was engaging in prophecy, but in the most bold-faced variety of spin. The easiest (if also the most hammer-headed) way to distract attention from the GOP’s loud-and-proud conservative ideological revolution of the last few years is to claim Democrats have moved equally (or much farther!) to the left, leaving good, patriotic, centrist Democrats stranded and torn between sitting at home angrily stewing on Election Day or joining the Good Ship Mitt. Zito’s only innovation in this dumb interpretation is to claim (again, with no evidence) that “Clinton Democrats” were all wise to Obama’s game from the very beginning, recognizing him as the clear successor to Howard Dean (and presumably George McGovern and Henry Wallace and Upton Sinclair). Unaccountably they voted for him anyway in 2008. But now they will wreak vengeance!

Give me a break.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.