Clinton calls up the paper cumainn

Dems and RepsI’ve just been catching up the latest developments stateside over at and of course the big news this weekend is that Obama has clinched three more states namely Washington, Louisiana and Nebraska givining him momentum, if not yet a delegate lead, over his rival Ms. Clinton.

The NY times has an excellent election dashboard, where you can check out the individual primary results for all candidates and toggle between delegate count, percentage won, and colour coded maps showing where the various candidates and parties are staking claim.

It’s also interesting to review where each candidate stands on the issues, and indeed on what the defining issues are. Obama’s most ofted quoted criticism of late is that his policy platform fails to live up to the high blown rhetoric but from his actions and own words there’s not a lot of clear blue water between him and Hillary and where there is, well Obama wins in my book (e.g. He favours direct and non-prejudicial dialogue with Iran over Hillary’s more hawkish sanctions and meet on my terms approach). Really though within each camp the candidates are pretty much on message.

Democrat DonkeyIn short the Democrats are for: abortion, universal health care, caps on emissions to combat climate change, revoking tax cuts for wealthiest to fund the poorest, dovish in varying degrees on foreign policy;

Republican ElephantRepublicans favour: Healthcare system driven by free-market economics, ban on abortion, commit and continue with tax cuts, hawkish on foreign policy. Clinton is the closet of the Democrats to the Republicans and McCain is the closest of the Republicans to the Democrats which in theory would drive any contest towards the centre but in reality Clinton is a hate figure for many Republicans so the only cross-over would be Democrats to McCain, with quite possibly a bad-blood effect if Clinton wins the nomination with a dirty tricks contest.

It’s started for sure. The Clintons weren’t shy bringing the race card into play early on when Saint Bill threw away three decades of mutual kinship with African-America by sterotyping Obama as the ‘Black Candidate’. In reference to the Senator’s landslide win in South Carolina, Bill’s response “Sure, well Jesse Jackson did well here too”.

Another trick which could turn a whole lot of delegates sour is the cynical way the Clinton camp is now talking about Florida and Michigan’s “ghost delegates” i.e. the rogue primaries where noone campaigned by agreement cos the party ruled the contests out of order (but Hillary left her name on the ballot). There are now whispers Hillary will try have those seated at convention. I wouldn’t claim every delegate voting at a Fianna Fáil convention is a round-the-clock party activist (the phenomen of paper cumainn occurs in all parties, where delegates come to life and seek representation at election times) but what Clinton is up to would mark a new low and leave a serious bad taste if it proved the decider.

Whilst her latest twist on the race card has been to abandon the black vote as lost irrecovably but focus instead on the hispanics in a deliberately polarising gesture. Obama’s message of unity is being undermined by his party colleague but the good news is, “It aint working honey”, he’s still pulling in the numbers from all demographics.

Lastly in a brief look at how ethnic persuasions may come into play in Ireland’s next election we know at this stage there’ll be several hundred thousand registered polish voters in the 2009 local elections. Apparently over 70% of those registered will vote so there’s sure to be efforts made by all parties to woo them. Whether they go with the big parties, elect their own single-issue independent types or whether they simply fragment across the board remains to be seen.

Although with the changing economic tides, it’s possible there will be some more population movement to come before then. In what might be a sign of the times, I was overnight in a hotel recently and for the first time in about five years all the staff were Irish. And I’m afraid to say when I asked them to service the room, the surly look on their faces was unmistakeable in any language..

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