The PUMA Factor

It’s been a meme in the ‘sphere and now it looks like McCain is buying into it:

Thing is, I don’t buy it and don’t think it’d work for McCain as a strategy, for any number of reasons.

  1. As Kevin Drum points out, there really are few policy disagreements between Obama and Clinton. 
  2. Women already have a number of very strong disincentives to support the GOP, and will have a few more if the Bush administration’s backdoor attempt to equate birth control with abortion gains widespread publicity.
  3. I seem to recall Clinton and her team at different points in the race believing they could make inroads into key elements of Obama’s potential coalition (blacks early, Hispanics late). That didn’t work; Obama holds his voters.
  4. The softness in Dem-to-Dem support for Obama observed in some polls seems to me no more than the usual drop-off the party’s nominee always has to deal with. We wouldn’t be a 50-50 country if this wasn’t a factor.

All that said, Obama needs both Clinton speeches at the convention to go right. Bill’s should stress how well things were going for the country at the close of his administration, and draw some well-chosen contrasts with the way things are going now. Hillary’s has to make a case for Obama himself. I see reason at this point to think they’ll do otherwise. Hillary has no chance to be a rebound nominee in 2012 if she’s seen as having torpedoed Obama. 

McCain, meanwhile, would signal true buy-in for the PUMA strategy if he makes a woman his veep selection. But that would represent a Hail Mary. At the end of the day, most all this talk about dissension in the Democratic ranks is being fed in the ‘sphere by Republicans. It’s either disinformation, or strategic self-deception.

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