Hillary Clinton and Upstate blood lust

Obama! Hillary Clinton! Edwards! New York primary! There… I think I’ve done more than enough to get those big-blogger hits.

But seriously, folks. Very simply, if Hillary Clinton can’t get New York excited, what reason is there to think she could get anyone else excited? And then that makes me wonder why anyone ever thought she ever got New York excited in the first place. In recent years there has been talk about how her “popularity” Upstate proved she could win people over in purple or even red states (quite a stretch), but what people never got is that Hillary isn’t popular in Upstate New York; she’s tolerated. Fairly well tolerated, in fact. But that’s because Upstaters can tolerate quite a lot. You try living ball-and-chained to The World’s Most Important City all your life; you grow a certain tolerance of Very Important People. It really has nothing to do with her.

Seven years ago, we were pretty much informed by The Powers That Be (and we Upstate Dems have long experience in having to do what The Powers That Be downstate say) that Hillary was coming in to the old Moynihan seat and taking over. And that was that; it’s not like anyone really had much say about it. It’s not like the New York Democratic Party had any original ideas or charismatic national figures of its own. She had her master plans, and who were we to complain? And after all, maybe we could get a little something out of the deal – our big-time rep in Washington. Did we really get any added value, though? I think Schumer did have, and still has, those bases covered, and never gave up much to her. How could anyone out-Chuck Chuck when it comes to “constituent service”? He can write the names of all 62 counties on a restaurant napkin! (Meanwhile, I’m still not sure that Clinton knows her Thruway exit number for Skaneateles…)

Sure, after a while she was pretty easy to tolerate, even by the Republicans. But then again, most rank-and-file Upstate Republicans are a different breed anyway; the subspecies Republicanus rockefelleri, often thought extinct, still thrives in deeply isolated pockets here (although I think we should have a new name for them, R. rockefelleri x indepentia.)

But among Democrats, I predict a frenzy of Obama-mania (and to a lesser extent, Edwards support) here in Upstate New York just as a cri de coeur on so many levels. In case no one’s noticed lately (which is very possible), Upstaters are deeply unhappy and have been for a long time. Where Obama is concerned, I detect a strain of hope flavored with a dash of gleeful rage — probably a rage that Obama himself would not recognize. Much of this rage is really not Hillary’s fault: it has to do with the ongoing mess in Albany which was Issue No. 1 in Upstate New York during the last presidential election year, and still is. Eliot Spitzer was supposed to be our savior (in some parts of Upstate, his election was regarded as something akin to the Second Coming, so you can imagine the disappointment at his first year in office). There simply isn’t any way you can adequately describe the level of frustration among the average engaged Upstate voter, and I think many may be in the mood to turn on someone — anyone. And if they can do it in the public eye during a big primary, so much the better.

I don’t really think this is how Obama or anyone else would want to win in New York, but I think negative Hillary ads would work well here. All too well. Maybe a little too well. And for reasons that don’t have a whole lot to do with Clinton herself.

11 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton and Upstate blood lust

  1. Phil

    I’m cautiously optimistic about Obama’s chances, but wonder about one assumption in this post: excitement about candidate=electoral victory for candidate.

    Many candidates engender excitement: Jesse Jackson filled the War Memorial for a rocking rally in ’88, Dukakis did a fly into Sair Aviation hangar press conference. Dukakis won easily. Look at guys like Perot, Dean, Paul this time–all candidates that inspire much more than grudging acceptance. Unfortunately, grudging acceptance usually wins.

    The enthusiasm candidates may move the agenda and create more activists–but the great mass of uninspired and conventional thinkers still have enough energy to get out to the polls and pull a lever.

    The difference with Obama is the money and organization combined with that enthusiasm.

    Barack ‘n’ Roll!

  2. Ellen

    Maybe we’re in a stage where voters are trying to decide who or what they don’t want, more than who or what they DO want. Maybe we should take voter enthusiasm more as a sign of expressing a negative at this point.

    Don’t get me wrong… I wouldn’t want anyone to think I have been cured of my cynicism about presidential politics, here… despite the outward racial and gender diversity, you need a magnifying glass to tell the difference between this crop, IMO. Updated to clarify: I think there are some pretty profound choices this country is facing, and I just don’t hear anything but glittering generalities. Maybe I’m not listening hard enough.

    (PS… Dukakis. Did anyone think he was going to win?!)

  3. Carla

    Great.. no.. EXCELLENT post. Its like you grabbed all the thoughts in my head and articulately arranged them to make sense ;)

    But really.. With Obama, I see a few things. I know CONSERVATIVES, who were eager for an Obama run, soon after his speech at the Dem convention in 2004. They don’t agree with everything he has to say, but they agree with him more than the current crop of GOP candidates.
    And he is an inspiring speaker. He makes me want to give up everything and go work for his campaign.. and I haven’t even decided who will get my vote.. Obama or Edwards.

  4. Mrs. Mecomber

    You have some great insight on the political culture. Yet I think the Republicanus rockefelleri has proved to be more tolerant than the Democratus socialisticus abortionii when it comes to enduring a loathesome opponent in power, lol.

    I’m still hoping Kucinich gains some momentum in NY, for the party’s sake.

  5. Patrick

    It’s been interesting watching the fox political machine work it’s powers in trying to help the people pick the candidate that they, Fox wants to run.

    I’m talking both the republican and democratic nominee and unfortunately I think it’s playing some roll in the primary’s. Fox seems to be doing its best to help Romney pull out a win over McCain in the current primary by pretty much showing mostly Romney supporters. It must be that they feel McCain isn’t far enough to the right for them. Then on the other side if Hillary blinks wrong they will show it over and over trying to get a victory for Obama thinking the republicans have a shot at beating him. The other channels seem to be a little more fair but they are still playing a big part in deciding this election so far mostly by building up the importance of the Iowa caucus to make it seem like that pretty much decided the whole ball game. All just my opinion of course.

    Also in my opinion Hillary is in some pretty deep trouble right now because most of the media has had her losing the whole thing right after she lost the Iowa caucus. If she can pull off a win in New Hampshire she has a real chance of turning the whole thing completely around but listening to the media that’s a long shot it seems. See, listening to the media. I won’t even get into Sean Hanity but I would love to see Hillary pull off a victory in New Hapshire just to watch his expressions plus to tone the media down a bit. For what it’s worth I am not a Hillary supporter at this time.

    Like NYCO kind of mentioned, Hillary did seem to be putting her foot in her mouth when trying to get her own message out about hope. I think Hillary isn’t trying to say people shouldn’t have hope although it does kind of come out that way. She is trying to get across the message that there is hope but put your hope in the future with someone that has experience and I don’t have a problem with that. For some reason I still have a bad memory about a man who didn’t have much experience taking over the white house not too long ago and unfortunately that man still has another year to go.

    In his case inexperience wasn’t a problem though because he was going to depend on intelligent people like some of the current candidates have mentioned. He did just that. He depended on very smart people to help guide him and listened to those people for their expert advise. He was guided by people like Dick Chaney, Donald Rumsfield, Carl Rove, Scooter and others.

    This might sound like a vote for Hillary post but it isn’t. Right now she really isn’t even close to getting my vote although that could change down the road. I do want change like probably 90 percent of America does but I want good change and so far Obama hasn’t laid out how that change will happen that really differs from any of the other candidates, some which do have experience.

    The theme of this election seems to be that change is good but experience is bad and I couldn’t disagree more. What I am starting to feel though which is a good feeling for a change in an election is that there are some good people running in this election and that there is a real possibility for some real change. The scary thing or perhaps it could be a good thing is that I see some good people on both sides. There is only one person so far out of the top runners that will not get my vote and that is Romney. I don’t buy a word he is saying. Enough said and sorry about the rambling and bad grammar which I don;t have tome to check. The second half of the championship football game has started.

  6. Gear Of Zanzibar

    -But really.. With Obama, I see a few things. I know CONSERVATIVES, who were eager for an Obama run, soon after his speech at the Dem convention in 2004.-

    I think Democrats owe it to themselves, to their party, and to their country to make sure Obama is the candidate this fall. The huge amount of crossover support his candidacy has from conservatives and life-long Republicans is simply amazing.

    If you truly care about this nation you’ll do everything you can to give Obama the nomination.

  7. Patrick

    Ellen, I agree and if you think about it Hillery has been a pretty good supporter of our Governor for the most part also and vice a versa. As for the Governor feeling relieved he isn’t on the hot seat, for now anyways, you betcha ;)

  8. sean

    phil’s 1st post – about excitement often failing to correlate into electoral success – looks prophetic this morning, doesn’t it?


  9. Ellen Post author


    But, I still think that we’ve got a year where candidates are becoming “meta-candidates” – I think the electorate is willing to invest these candidates with Heavy Meaning that may or may not be supported by their actual positions. So I think fervor about Obama will continue to develop. Perhaps the candidates will grow into such heft…

    …but then I wonder, does everyone agree on what the heavy meanings are? To Obama supporters, Hillary represents the ossified past (or maybe even something more sinister); but Hillary supporters might see her as representing the bright sunlit uplands of progress because she’s a woman. It seems to me that everyone wants newness, but there’s no shared understanding of how the candidates embody that newness (or don’t). (Boy! where’s a Shirley Chisholm when you need her?)

    Which says, to me, things might get really ugly and confusing before all is said and done. Thank heavens that Dems have more than two candidates to choose from at this point, although how much longer that will be true, no one can say.

  10. Craig

    I love New York. I’m from the captial of Niagara County, Lockport. I lived in Western New York for 20 years but have been away for almost 10 years. I constantly hear reports of how Upstate New York’s economy has been in decline for a long time now. On Monday night football on ESPN, the comintators said that it was sad what has happened to Western New York. Upstate New Yorkers are the kindest people I have met in my travels across the country. The land is beautiful and to sports teams are fun to support (although stressful). However one thing I hear from former New Yorkers is that their are no jobs there. That is why 65% of all college graduates leave the state. Another reason is that taxes are so high. In the last 40 years, New York has never elected a Republican to the governorship and things keep getting worse. Why can’t New Yorkers try to see if a Republican can do better. Look at the states down south that are primarly Rep. They are the fastest growing states because of low taxes and good weather. I truly miss my home in Western New York and I pray that someday I will be able to return with my family to a thriving economy and a growing community.

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