Thursday, February 7

:: Kristof: We're Not Ready for a Feminist President (Part One)

Nicholas Kristof uses lousy logic to claim Obama is more electable than Clinton.

Nicholas Kristof's column today in the New York Times is called Who Is More Electable. It counts towards their quota of presenting at least one anti-Hillary Clinton opinion column per day. Mr. Kristof argues that Hillary is less electable that Barack Obama in a match up against John McCain. For the first installment of today's three part commentary (I woke up seriously early this morning), let's recount and dispatch with his main points.

It's not hard to do:

- Kristof argues that Obama is more electable because he has won more states than Hillary thus far. This is comparing apples and oranges, since caucuses are designed to determine the preferences of the party faithful, not all registered and self-identified Democratic voters. It is also immaterial, since presidential elections aren't won by a count of states; they are won by a count of electoral votes, and the states Obama won have far few electoral votes than those won by Hillary.

- Kristof argues that the endorsement of Obama by Susan Eisenhower means Republicans will vote for him. First of all, who cares about Susan Eisenhower. Ron Reagan Jr. was a Democrat while his dad was in the White House; it didn't indicate that Republicans wanted to cross party lines and vote Democratic. The fact is that when faced with a vehemently anti-choice candidate such as McCain versus a pro-choice Democratic candidate, plenty of Republican women cross party lines. Or call themselves "independents" to save the trouble.

- Kristof cites two polls that show hypothetical match ups with McCain beating Clinton by a percentage within the margin of error, while Obama beats McCain by a percentage within the margin of error. First of all, big deal - the difference is so minor as to be statistically insignificant. Second, we've already seen how off the polls can be when attempting to determine the level of support for Clinton.

- Kristof displays an alarming ignorance of presidential politics by claiming Obama is more electable than Clinton because he as done better in notoriously red states. He doesn't seem to grasp that red states and called red states because they traditionally - some without exception - vote Republican. It doesn't matter that Obama did better than Clinton in Idaho or Alabama, because he will not carry those states. It does matter than Clinton did better in the crucial battleground state (like red states, they are called "battleground" for a reason) of Florida.

- Kristof again compares Obama to JFK, a weird claim. I won't even go into that because its so deeply weird, except to say that the same claim by Teddy and Caroline (and Patrick - don't forget Patrick!) proved to be unpersuasive in the Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts (where Clinton beat Obama by 10 points).

I don't know why Mr. Kristof writes about a topic he clearly knows little about. Hubris, I guess. Lots of people think they can play "political strategist" just because they have an opinion.

He does such a good job reporting and analyzing international affairs, especially the ways policy decisions affect vulnerable people. I wish he would stick to that – it is so very needed.

On domestic politics, he's worse the useless.

... to be continued....

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