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Knox Dems host Green


The dichotomy of a black versus white, male versus female presidential primary showdown was too much for the national media not to exploit.

That point, made by former Villanova University Prof. Justin Green, explains the political rise of Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama and lone remaining challenger Hillary Clinton beginning with the Iowa Caucuses in early 2008.

Green, a political science professor at Villanova for 25 years and a Knox County resident since 2000, spoke about the 2008 Presidential races to member of Fifth District Club Democrats during its monthly meeting Tuesday, March 18, in Cedar Bluff Library.

The former professor also outlined challenges and opportunities in trying to defeat apparent GOP nominee John McCain in the General Election.

Saying he supported Democratic candidate John Edwards before the U.S. Senator from North Carolina dropped out, Green pointed to the aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses, which he witnessed first-hand.

After a second-place finish in Iowa behind Obama, Edwards “got buried” in New Hampshire, Green said, adding the key was Edwards getting “very, very little” media attention leading up to that primary. Why?

“The media created a narrative that went something like this, and it’s still going on: male-female, black-white,” Green said about how gender and race affect coverage. “What a story. And we’ve seen nothing else but that story from New Hampshire on, no matter where we look. No other candidate had a chance because the media erased their possibilities.

“The stronger the narrative, the better the press a candidate gets,” Green added. “Edwards had a great narrative, but it wasn’t the male-female, black-white narrative.”

Green warned that Democrats can’t resort to “name-calling” within the Obama-Clinton nomination fight, saying it will “hurt our base. I think so of that original name-calling and original finger-pointing has died down.”

As for how the nomination race stands, “It looks like to me all the advantages are with Obama,” Green said. “It’s going to be very difficult for Hillary to catch up … .”

Green predicted it would be “the middle of the summer” before Democrats finally decide on Obama, U.S. Senator from Illinois, or Clinton, U.S. Senator from New York.

As for McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona, “John McCain has a rough road to [winning the presidency],” Green said. “What he’s done is he’s stepped on a lot of his principles.

“I think he is beatable. … McCain is vulnerable to the charge of being Bush-like. He has adopted almost all of [President George W.] Bush’s policies.”

Green added the Democratic nominee should “link Bush and McCain very closely.”

Green said McCain has benefited from how the Iraqi War has gone from the No. 1 voter issue in summer 2007 to the current No. 2 issue.

However, “McCain is vulnerable on that account, McCain is vulnerable on economics,” Green said.

The professor also said McCain’s left-of-center immigration policy “should take some Republican votes away.”

Green said “he had a hunch” a few months ago that sometime from late spring to mid-summer Bush would “declare that we have won the war and he’s going to bring the troops home.

“But if he’s going to that, it’s going to require quite a switch,” Green added. “It’s going to be harder and harder” for Bush to remove the troops because it would leave “McCain hanging.”

The professor said he’s read that al-Qaida “is supporting the Democratic Party,” but advises it’s a way to use “negative psychology” to prod U.S. voters to elect a GOP candidate.

Why? “Because George Bush has been the biggest source of their recruitment, the biggest source of funding for them, and the biggest source of growing legitimacy in the Islamic community,” Green said.

Therefore, the Democratic nominee “needs to let the public know where al-Qaida’s loyalties really lie.”

Green said “executives with corporate interests” have been put in charge of government agencies during the Bush administration instead of “experts,” with harmful results.

“Somebody’s got to ask John McCain whether he’s going to put experts into everything or continue using corporate figures running these agencies?” Green said.

The former Villanova professor said he witnessed an Iowa precinct caucus in Ames, headed by his stepdaughter-in-law who was a precinct head.

“At that point-in-time I think I could say I was an Edwards guy … for three reasons,” Green said. “One, he had the fewest negatives … he’d run for vice president, he knew what being a candidate really meant, he was liked, and he was, like me, a policy wok.

“Here I am in Iowa on a very cold night … the Hillary group had the most seats in front of me, the Edwards group was pretty strong, it had a lot of seats,” Green added. “There were eight chairs in front of the Obama group. Suddenly the eight chairs are filled, and more and more people are coming in.

Of 320 people in the room, “140 Obama people.”

With the Obama supporters extending outside the caucus room into a hall, Green said, “I went out to observe what they looked like, and I thought I was on the U-T campus on the Friday night before a football game — cheering, yelling and young.

“In my view, there wasn’t anybody in that Obama group over 35,” the professor added, with a high percentage of them reportedly Iowa State University graduate students. “Obama had persuaded young people to turn out for him.”

By comparison, Green said he was told only 180 total showed up at the Ames caucus in 2004.

Green said Obama’s March 18 speech, which dealt with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, “is without a doubt the best presidential speech I have ever read.”

 

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