Ryan Lizza writes: This week marks an important anniversary in the political lives of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was dominating the young upstart from Illinois in the Democratic primaries. After a burst of excitement when Obama announced his candidacy, in February, 2007, his campaign flagged over the summer. He was down in the polls, his donors were complaining, and, hard as it is to believe now, he was even losing to Clinton among African-Americans.
“We were trailing in national polls by a wide margin, the pundits were pouncing, and donors were panicking.”
— David Axelrod
“A lot of our supporters nationally were very concerned that we weren’t moving in the national polls,” Larry Grisolano, one of Obama’s top campaign strategists, told me.
Dan Pfeiffer, then the campaign’s deputy communications director, told me, “It’s crazy to think now, but the big narrative was whether Obama was tough enough to take on Clinton and whether he was black enough to win the African-American vote. That’s an actual debate we had in America. You could see the political world placing its bets on Hillary.”
“We were trailing in national polls by a wide margin, the pundits were pouncing, and donors were panicking,” David Axelrod, who was Obama’s top strategist and later became a senior White House adviser, told me.
How did the Obama team turn it around? The conventional wisdom is that he inspired voters with an uplifting message and out-organized Clinton in Iowa and elsewhere. And while it’s true that Obama had a superior organization and an optimistic message, the real beginning of the end for Hillary Clinton was when Obama attacked her greatest vulnerability: her character.
The kill-Hillary strategy began with an October memo that was written by several top Obama officials, including Axelrod, Grisolano, Pfeiffer, the campaign manager David Plouffe, and Joel Benenson, Obama’s pollster. “Joel Benenson was a key contributor to how we stack up against her message-wise,” Grisolano said.
I’ve previously reported on aspects of the memo, but the entire document is being published here for the first time. It offers a fascinating glimpse into campaign strategy, and specifically into the strategy used to defeat Hillary Clinton, who was then, as now, the Democratic frontrunner.
The memo was used to set up a crucial meeting to plot Obama’s fall strategy, which included a debate in Philadelphia and the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, traditionally one of the most important events in the run-up to the caucuses. Obama and his aides met in a Chicago office building on October 11, 2007. “The memo was written for a big Come-to-Jesus meeting, at which Obama wanted us to review the strategy and lay out our plans,” Axelrod said, adding that Obama “wanted to talk brass tacks about where we were going” and “we had a rigorous discussion around the points in the memo.”
Obama’s strategists argued that the “key premise” of the campaign was that 2008 would be a change election, and that while Hillary was trying to “define this as change from George Bush,” Obama had a broader definition, one that emphasized her weaknesses:
Our construct is much broader and tracks with Americans’ deep discontent with Washington, specifically:
• Its political gamesmanship, where politicians score points by saying what others want to hear, rather than what they need to hear;
• Its divisiveness, which pits Americans against each other and blocks the consensus we need to get things done;
• Its submission to powerful interests that shut out the voices of average Americans.
The only way for Obama to win this argument about change was for him to raise the character issue, which he had tiptoed around until that point in the campaign. Benenson’s polling showed that voters wanted a President “who can unite the country and restore our sense of common purpose,” “stand up to lobbyists,” and “who doesn’t just tell people what they want to hear.” The strategists, addressing Obama, wrote that these qualities “are the ones on which YOU scores high and Hillary, low.” They concluded, “Barack Obama is change. She is not.” Read the rest of this entry »
In the August issue, Kevin D. Williamson writes:
“…Uber’s ability and willingness to serve underserved communities and to provide a technology end-around for some of New York City’s most charged social problems — unlike the situation when you’re hailing a cab at 96th and Lexington, on the Internet nobody knows you’re black — have made it more difficult for the so-called progressives to dress up their cartel-servicing as consumer protection. Even the nation’s oldest consumer-advocacy organization thinks Uber et al. serve the public better than the highly regulated cartels. ‘Government has a really important role in protecting consumers,’ says Joe Colangelo of Consumers’ Research, ‘and that applies to Uber. But it applies to protecting the public’s safety and well-being, not to preventing new technology from entering the market. The landscape that these regulations were crafted for no longer exists.’ New York, he points out, developed its taxi regulations in the inter-war era, and they were designed to address inconsistencies in service and costs. Uber solves those problems in a trans-regulatory way: Fares are advertised in advance, before the pick-up is even scheduled, and customer ratings mean that inspections effectively happen during every trip rather than once a year.
That’s not lost on the young people who are accustomed to having services such as Uber, Seamless, and Open Table acting as their own personal 24-hour concierge.”
Read more at: National Review
UPDATE: On newstands today:
Why New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt to protect a government-enforced cartel ran out of gas
L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Progressive New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgofound common cause on a shared threat while attending a recent climate-change conference at the Vatican. “The people of our cities don’t like the notion of those who are particularly wealthy and powerful dictating the terms to a government elected by the people,” Mr. de Blasio declared. “As a multibillion-dollar company, Uber thinks it can dictate to government.”
“Uber made the fight personal by adding a ‘de Blasio’ mode to its app, estimating how long the wait would be under the proposed law. Model Kate Upton tweeted in Uber’s support.”
But before Mr. de Blasio could return from Rome, he learned that people really don’t like when politicians try to take away their favorite app for getting around the government’s taxi cartel. The mayor was forced to drop his plan to limit Uber to a 1% annual increase in cars, far below the current rate.
“Errol Louis wrote in the Daily News that ‘Mayor de Blasio is leaving N.Y.ers stranded—like a black man trying to hail a cab uptown.’”
It’s hard to see why Mr. de Blasio thought that would be good politics. Two million New Yorkers have downloaded the Uber app onto their mobile devices—a quarter of the city’s population and more than twice the number of citizens who voted for Mr. de Blasio. But it’s easy to understand why he views Uber as an ideological threat. A tipping point is in sight where big-government politicians can no longer deprive consumers of new choice made possible by technology—whether for car rides, car sharing or home rentals. Mr. de Blasio’s experience should encourage other politicians to sign up for innovation.
“You are dealing with a huge economic force which is consumer choice, and the taxi trade needs to recognize that…I’m afraid it is a tragic fact that there are now more than a million people in this city who have the Uber app.’”
— The Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson
Uber has become a wedge issue. The Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, took the opposite approach from Mr. de Blasio. “You are dealing with a huge economic force which is consumer choice, and the taxi trade needs to recognize that,” he said recently. He told a gathering of taxi drivers in London: “I’m afraid it is a tragic fact that there are now more than a million people in this city who have the Uber app.” When cabbies objected that Uber drivers were undercutting their prices, Mr. Johnson replied: “Yes, they are. It’s called the free market.”
“Government-enforced cartels fall faster and harder to disruptive innovation than most businesses. When change comes, it is more dramatic than in industries that already have competition.”
Presidential candidates are divided as well. Hillary Clinton implicitly criticized Uber in her campaign speech on economic policy, saying the “so-called ‘gig economy’ ” is “raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like.” Read the rest of this entry »
Statistics from NYC’s taxi regulator reveal an important milestone for the ride-sharing service
There are 14,088 registered Uber cars compared with 13,587 yellow taxis, according to new statistics from New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.
The figures, reported by the AP, reflect the rapid expansion of the ride-sharing service, which was introduced in New York in 2011.
But as the AP notes, the numbers don’t mark the demise of the yellow cab just yet. While there are more registered Uber cars, there are still roughly 15 times as many daily rides in yellow cabs as there are in Uber vehicles. Read the rest of this entry »