Electability: The Lamest Argument in the Rhetorical Aresenal

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There is a new USA Today/Gallup poll out that says Barack Obama does better against the Republican candidates than Hillary Clinton, a fact that the Obama camp will no doubt point to when undercutting Clinton’s oft-made electability argument. The Edwards folks like to highlight this CNN poll that shows he is the only Democrat who slays all five heads of the Giuliani-Romney-Huckabee-McCain-Thompson medusa.

My take: who cares?

The electability argument is a pander to the basest desire in the political heart: the desire to win. Every campaign makes the argument, ignoring the fact that just because a candidate can get elected, or just because a majority of Americans think a candidate can get elected, doesn’t mean that candidate should be elected. As George W. Bush has proved twice, the skills and characteristics needed to get elected are not the same as the ones needed to govern well.

Obama, Clinton, and Edwards aren’t going to stop claiming they can win because electability, though a specious argument, matters to people. Voters don’t like backing a loser. But if a potential loser would be the best president, he or she deserves support, plain and simple.

That’s my overly idealistic blog post for the day. Back to your regularly scheduled snark and cynicism.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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