Because I’m a political junky.
March 17, 2008, 9:46 am
Filed under: Current Events, Pittsburgh | Tags: , ,
Editorial: Prophetic Pennsylvania, by Neil Huerbin, in The Pitt News, March 17, 2008
 (I am including the link, even though it will probably be gone tomorrow. That is why I am also directly quoting the entire column.)
“Sen. Hillary Clinton made her Western Pennsylvania campaign debut this weekend, speaking at a Bloomfield gas station, rallying supporters at Soldiers & Sailors Museum and Memorial Friday and attending St. Patrick’s Day festivities Downtown Saturday.

During her appearances, Clinton was surrounded by supporters, including Gov. Ed Rendell and local Democratic politicians Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, as well as local and national media representatives. But Clinton’s rally at Soldiers & Sailors lacked one notable party: the students. While Clinton courted local Democratic voters, Pitt and Oakland neighbor Carnegie Mellon University students were celebrating spring break.

While Clinton’s campaign, in contrast to her Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama, hasn’t focused on rallying students on college campuses, we find it bizarre that Clinton would choose to hold an event so near to Pitt’s campus when Pitt and Carnegie Mellon students were noticeably absent.

And while Clinton has now made several appearances in Pennsylvania, Obama has yet to even begin heavily campaigning in the state. Obama’s campaign has publicly played down the importance of the Pennsylvania primary recently, most likely in hopes to prevent the momentum drop that would probably occur as a result of a hard-fought Pennsylvania loss.

Both candidates’ Pennsylvania campaign strategies, in a way, could be self-fulfilling prophecies. If Clinton fails to court students and young people, she will struggle to capture the youth vote in Pennsylvania, a faction that, if not critical in the primary, will be of crucial importance in the general election.

Obama’s Pennsylvania play-down could not only lose him a Pennsylvania win, which his campaign is already dismissing as a possibility, but also Pennsylvania votes.

Even if Obama can’t win Pennsylvania (a crucial general election swing state), losing by a smaller margin would give him more delegates than a blowout loss would.

The importance of a Pennsylvania primary win to both Clinton and Obama has certainly waned in recent weeks, with both candidates looking ahead to what could be another four months of campaigning for the nomination, leading both candidates to spend time courting another important voting faction: the superdelegates.

Clinton’s back-in-the-game wins in the Ohio and Texas primaries have edged the delegate gap between the candidates to fewer than 200, a fact that could push the end date of the nomination process to the Democratic National Convention, with superdelegates choosing the nominee.

Neither Clinton nor Obama are reaching out in Pennsylvania where they need to and are instead looking ahead toward a decision that might ultimately be made by party leaders – an event that would alienate not only the losing candidate’s supporters but also voters from both parties across the country.”
First of all, I am generally scornful of the Pitt News as a whole, but particularly to its editorial staff (minus Lewis Lehe. Not only do I agree with him, but I am also amused by him). The articles are tripe, and the high point of its weekly output is the Police Log, which is written by the police.
Throughout this primary year (yes, year, it has been going on for far too long), the Pitt News has vomited up the same worn out fluff that has infected the media as a whole, but they do it even less professionally, if that is possible. They were for Clinton when she seemed like a shoe-in, and the minute that Obamamania took hold, they got caught up in that, too. If it were possible for a newspaper to faint, I am sure it would do it. They spew uninformed buzzwords, fulfilling the stereotype that college students catch on to whatever seems politically cool, swallowing and wallowing in whatever politically correct media figures want to fling at them. And then they put it in print and pretend its journalism. Praise God they changed the headline tag from “One of the great college newspapers since 19-something” or whatever it was before, to “The Daily Student Newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh”. At least they’re being more honest now.
Regardless, I have some specific complaints with this editorial. I will number them for ease of reading.
1.  “While Clinton’s campaign, in contrast to her Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama, hasn’t focused on rallying students on college campuses, we find it bizarre that Clinton would choose to hold an event so near to Pitt’s campus when Pitt and Carnegie Mellon students were noticeably absent.” First of all, I’m not sure that this sentence went where it intended to go. Ok, so Clinton hasn’t gone to colleges, but Obama has. How is that related enough to the second part of the sentence to link them with a “while”? The sentence should have been split up to: “We realize that Clinton’s campaign, in contrast to her Democratic presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama, hasn’t focused on rallying students on college campuses. However, we find it bizarre that Clinton would choose to hold an event so near to…etc.” That is a far less confusing pile of words.
2. Furthermore, how can they have so much hubris as to assume that Clinton would even check or care when the students were on break? The sun does not, contrary to popular belief among college students, rise and set with us. Pennsylvania is important in the primary season, for the first time in a long time. This is exciting! However, we have a long 5 weeks to go before the April 22 primary, and since Pittsburgh is the other major city in the state, we can count on being blasted with ads, calls and visits from these people for the next 5 weeks. I can guarantee to you that this will probably not be her last visit to the city, let alone Oakland.
With that in mind, perhaps she planned this KNOWING that we wouldn’t be here. Can you image how crowded and hectic it would be? I went to the John Kerry rally in Oct. 2004 at Carnegie Mellon. COLLEGE STUDENTS GALORE, and it was a ridiculously crowded, busy, hectic event. It screwed up traffic like you wouldn’t believe. Without thousands and thousands of students milling around, she was probably better able to a) get her message across effectively; b) get in and out of the city quickly and easy; and c) not screw up traffic for us too much. We should be thankful for this!
3.  “If Clinton fails to court students and young people, she will struggle to capture the youth vote in Pennsylvania, a faction that, if not critical in the primary, will be of crucial importance in the general election.” Oh. Oh, the hubris. Oh, the misinformed, media-fed hubris. Remember 2004? I do. The media trumpeted then that the young will decide that election. If we can get out the vote, Kerry can win! Remember that? Remember who won? Yea, that’s right. Bush did. And this time, he won with an actual majority vote, not a Supreme Court decision. So, either there are a disproportionate number of conservative youth, OR not enough of the youth went out to vote! GUESS WHAT. It was the latter. Just like every other election year: the youth are supposed to determine the election, and then only a fraction of them actually make it to the polls. It doesn’t matter what you spew to your friends and in your blogs. If you don’t back it up with a vote, it’s entirely meaningless. Furthermore, that fraction of youth vote are an even tinier fraction of the total voters. If you want your vote to actually matter as a demographic, you’re going to have to wait until you’re over 60. That crowd makes it out in droves. And they don’t really give a crap whether or not you have student loans.
So, I hate to break it to you, but odds are that the proportion of youth voters that vote is not going to change much. Therefore, it’s going to matter this year about as much as it did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. So courting our demographic? Entirely wasteful. I don’t blame Hillary for not really giving a crap about whether or not the college students were on Spring Break.
4. Finally,  Pennsylvania might matter this year, but only if the outcome is in favor of Barack. Right now, Hillary is behind in the number of delegate votes. If she wins Pennsylvania, she’ll be closer to Obama, but she won’t get enough to beat him. Therefore, her winning here, which she probably will, will just extend this battle between them until the convention. And then there will be the decision regarding whether or not to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. Won’t that be fun? If that happens, there will probably be a court case to decide this. Same if she convinces the superdelegates to all vote for her. Talk about an undemocratic way of deciding the nomination! THIS WILL NEVER END, meaning that they will never get to effectively campaign against McCain. Everyone will have spent so much time listening to all the bad stuff about Hillary and Obama coming from EACH OTHER that nobody will say anything bad about McCain.
However, if Obama wins, that will put him even more ahead of Hillary, increasing the chances that she’ll fold. But that probably won’t happen.
I’m enjoying watching the Democratic Party implode on itself. But it irritates me when naive college students enforce the stereotype that college students are self-centered, self-important, uninformed lemmings. Especially when they do it in print.
(P.S. I am a registered Democrat. Surprise! I know! Who would have guessed. I’m voting for Hillary in the primary, I think. I will decide when my absentee ballot arrives.)
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