Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s Last Ditch Nuclear Option

Originally published in American Thinker, May 9, 2008

By Ned Barnett © 2008

Hillary still has a chance.

Most pundits are telling Senator Hillary Clinton that it’s all over but the shouting. The math is against her. However, the math is also currently against Senator Obama – neither candidate can earn the needed majority in the remaining primaries. The decision will be made by the Democrat’s “super delegates,” who are not obligated to decide who they support until the convention – and they are empowered to change their allegiance at any time, based on their “read” of what’s best for the party.

This means that until that Convention, Hillary still has a chance.

Conventional wisdom among those who pretend to know why Senator Clinton is hanging in there say she’s waiting – and hoping for – an Obama scandal that will make Reverend Wright look like a footnote. Because Senator Obama is so little known among the public, they’ve got their fingers crossed that some scandal that’s worse than Reverend Wright will surface, and surface soon enough to persuade the super delegates that Obama can’t win.

The “sitting and waiting” strategy is out of character for the politically-savvy Clintons – though they may be so shell-shocked from the primary campaign’s insane roller coaster ride. However, once they have caught their breath, they may decide that the prize is worth exercising Hillary’s “nuclear option” – in effect, using surrogates to nuke Senator Obama so thoroughly that they will create that Obama Can’t Win scandal out of what is already out there.

In this option, Clinton surrogates – those who are obviously in the tank for the Clintons, such as Lanny Davis and Paul Begala, as well as those who are not so obviously affiliated with the Clinton campaign – will carry out the “nuke Obama” strategy on Senator Clinton’s behalf, leaving her hands clean and her reputation unsullied.

What constitutes the Nuclear Option?

Senator Obama has gotten such a near-universal “pass” on his background that there remain potentially troubling elements to his background and life-story. Bringing these forward now – and painting them in the worst possible light – will have a “death by a thousand cuts” impact on the largely untried Senator from Illinois, who has already shown that he’s not at his best in responding to harsh and unexpected criticism. Keeping Senator Obama dodging and ducking and bobbling defenses creates two opportunities:

  1. Senator Obama’s background will deliver that one “deal-killer” issue that will turn the super delegates away from their popular favorite, or

  1. The weight of unanswered criticism will collectively convince the super delegates that Senator Obama can’t win – and that the Party needs a win more than it needs Obama

Both options are long shots, to be sure, but there may be enough out there with which to criticize Senator Obama to make the nuclear option at least apparently plausible. Some might even say that the nuclear option campaign has already begun with Paul Begala’s public pronouncement that the Party Can’t Win by relying on white eggheads and African-Americans, a bombshell he dropped on CNN in a “debate” with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

What are the issues that could be included in the Nuclear Option? Here is a sampling:

  1. Comb the archives of Trinity Church for a DVD that shows both Reverend Wright making yet one more of his offensively over-the-top statements … and showing Senator Obama in the congregation, listening to his preacher. Senator Obama skirted responsibility for Wright, in part, by claiming that “I never heard him say that.” Prove this defense wrong and it will not only tie Obama to Wright, but will paint him as a lying politician – and one not particularly adept at lying.

  1. Comb the Internet and other sources for home video of a speech that Senator Obama gave in conjunction with unrepentant Weatherman domestic terrorist Bill Ayres – in this way, tie Senator Obama tightly to this radical who’s helped to kill Americans on American soil. Senator Obama has persuaded the media that he and Ayres are just neighbors – but video that would show them sharing a platform as allies could shake that excuse – and Obama’s credibility. With such a thin track record, “credibility” is about all that Senator Obama has to offer the Party and the American voters.

  1. Assuming that Tony Rezko is found guilty in his fraud trial, find some way for prosecutors to offer Tony Rezko a sentencing deal in exchange for offering incriminating testimony that will tie Senator Obama far more closely to this shady political fund-raiser who’s currently in the midst of a bribery trial. The Rezko story has been largely overlooked by the media – few voters understand the nature of the Rezko/Obama connection – but this Chicago “politics as usual” story of sordid minor-league corruption will further shake the Senator’s image of electability.

  1. Push forward another story that has been largely ignored by the media – Senator Obama’s radically permissive position favoring “birth control abortions,” on-demand, for minors – and his related view that babies, including his own future grandchildren, are “punishments.” As explained in American Thinker – one of the very few political media who’ve even noted this statement ( – in late March, Senator Obama said: "Look, I got two daughters - nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." This is a position that would prove widely unpopular among moderate “values” Democrats and most Independents – in a general election with a pro-life candidate, this issue could be a political deal-breaker.

  1. Comb Senator Obama’s voting record in the Senate and in the Illinois legislature and find every issue he’s voted for (or against) that – if the vote was known – would make moderate Democrats and Independents uncomfortable with the Senator. Where possible, find video showing Senator Obama advocating these politically extreme or unpopular positions, making it hard for the Senator to deny that he was “in the pew” when those issues came up for consideration.

These five issues – along other issues that cast a bad light on Senator Obama – constitute Senator Clinton’s “nuclear option.” These issues have been largely ignored, minimized or “put to bed” by the national mainstream political media, including media opinion leaders ranging from the New York Times to CNN, MSNBC and the broadcast news networks . However, these same issues can be advanced by Clinton surrogates in a way that will force the media to take another look … and force the super delegates to re-think their ultimate choice.

That is Senator Clinton’s last chance. She has the opportunity, she has the strategy, and – within her camp – she has the savvy to see how to raise these (and other) issues without leaving finger prints. Independently, these individual issues are unlikely to be “deal-killers” – but taken together, they might give Democratic Party super delegates reason to reconsider Senator Obama, and move Senator Clinton back into the status of “inevitability.”

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Obama's Stealth Pro-Abortion Stance

By Ned Barnett
This article was originally published in American Thinker on May 3, 2008

"The dog that didn't bark"
is the central clue in the Sherlock Holmes story, "Silver Blaze." This oddly quiet watchdog's silence told Holmes that the horse-theft was an inside job - pulled off by the horse's trainer. The canine guardian who was supposed to sound an alarm - but who instead didn't make a noise - was the final clue that fingered the guilty culprit.

Today's "dog that didn't bark" is none other than the political media. For more than a month now, the media has effectively covered up a potentially damning statement made by Senator Barack Obama. No trivial matter, his single sentence, if widely known, could be the "deal killer" that destroys Obama's quest for the American Presidency. It was March 28th when he answered a Pennsylvania voter's question at a campaign whistle-stop, yet four weeks later, this potentially explosive "stealth position" remains less widely known than Senator Obama's taste for waffles.

The issue is abortion which - along with Social Security - has long been a deadly "third rail" in American politics. In spite of 35 years under Roe v. Wade, Americans remain deeply conflicted over the abortion issue - their opinions are nuanced and variable, often depending on case-by-case circumstances. Politically, any position favoring on-demand abortion has been potentially deadly. Then, in the early 1990s, President Clinton popularized a low-risk pro-abortion position - abortions should be "safe, legal ... and rare." This artful sophistry, with the emphasis on "rare," seemed acceptable to the majority of Americans.

However, going beyond "rare" to justify "convenience" abortions remains politically unacceptable. For example, the "Roe at 30" ABC/Washington Post study found "57 percent (of Americans) oppose abortion solely to end an unwanted pregnancy - ‘if the mother is unmarried and does not want the baby."

Other recent studies find more than 65 percent of Americans oppose convenience abortions.

Americans clearly do not favor abortion on demand. Since Clinton first articulated "safe, legal ... and rare," no prominent pro-abortion politician has dared go further, and none has risked advocating on demand "convenience abortions." That is, none dared until Senator Obama demolished "safe, legal ... and rare" during a Pennsylvania whistle-stop more than four weeks ago - an action that, to date, the media has chosen to ignore, along with Obama's several rather shocking conclusions.

In response to a Pennsylvania voter's question about elementary school sex education, Obama said:

"Look, I got two daughters - nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."

This makes two things clear. First, Senator Obama supports abortion on demand -- even "convenience" abortions -- for minors, including his own daughters; and second, Obama considers babies a "punishment" he'd rather spare his daughters, even if those daughters have to abort Obama's own unborn grandchildren to avoid that particular "punishment."

That unguardedly candid public statement is political dynamite -- or it would be, if the media had reported on it. Instead, four weeks later, America remains widely unaware of Senator Obama's explosive position favoring on-demand convenience abortions for minors, or his equally explosive view of babies as a "punishment."

Senator Clinton can be forgiven for not raising the subject -- while she's dutifully stuck to her husband's "safe, legal ... and rare" formulation, she knows her feminist base agrees with Senator Obama. Her late primary hurdles have been high enough without challenging her base.

Senator McCain -- who continues to steer clear of anything that might smack of a personal attack -- has also refrained from commenting; and from his position, that too makes a kind of sense. Unless he prefers to face Hillary in November, raising the "on-demand convenience abortions for minors" issue will have more power in reaching Independents during the general election, four months from now.

However, the media has no such excuse. Their job is to dig out the controversies and challenge the candidates -- in short, to report the news. Instead, perhaps recognizing the divisive nature of Obama's abortion stance, the media has become the dog that didn't bark. In his controversially-direct questioning of Senator Obama during the recent debate, ABC's George Stephanopolous avoided the abortion-on-demand question entirely. Just this past Sunday, in an often hard-hitting 36-minute interview, Fox News' Chris Wallace -- though he asked Obama about partial birth abortion - completely avoided the more controversial "on-demand convenience abortion."

Earlier in the campaign, Saturday Night Live accurately and effectively lampooned the media for being "in the tank" for Senator Obama. Now, on the abortion issue, political reporters are not only in the tank, they are AWOL.

Even the talk radio community -- as well as conservative columnists and online bloggers -- have been remarkably silent. Obama's position - advocating on-demand convenience abortions, even for minors -- is explosive, especially for conservative talkers' and bloggers' largely pro-family, anti-abortion audiences. The idea of children being a "punishment" pours gasoline on an open flame. By personalizing this, by speaking about his own daughters - and by speaking approvingly of them possibly aborting his own future grandchildren - Senator Obama's position becomes even less defensible ... and far more explosive.

Yet the media's silence echoes like the dog that didn't bark.

Ned Barnett owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas. He's advised candidates and issues campaigns for 35 years, and blogs at: