Tom Hayden Predicts Obama Will Lose
by Mayhill Fowler
Posted August 25, 2008
DENVER -- Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Denver Press Club at
the Denver Athletic Club today, former California state legislator
and '60s political activist Tom Hayden predicted that Barack Obama
will lose the 2008 Election. "An African-American candidate talking
about economics and a white war hero -- it's clear to me who is going
to win," Hayden said. When one of the attendees at the small
luncheon, attended mostly by Denverites, asked him to be more
specific about why he thinks Obama will lose the race, Hayden
replied, "You don't think McCain's gonna have a convention about his
being an American." Hayden seemed to be referring to the fact that
Barack Obama continues to introduce himself to the American
electorate. Hayden elaborated. "I've known kookie Cokie, kookie Cokie
Roberts for years, but when Obama vacationed in Hawaii, she said, "He
shoulda gone to Myrtle Beach." Hayden turned out his hands, as if to
say what're you gonna do?
Hayden went further. "[Obama's] problem is that he's lived in the
world of beating the Democratic establishment for so long, it's hard
to transition to being the Democratic establishment." Hayden is part
of the group Progressives for Obama, but he has his issues with the
candidate. "There's the pursuit of the last white man standing in
Pennsylvania," he said, rather than a fierce pursuit of the Latino
vote, which is what Hayden would like to see.
Given Hayden's history of confrontation with the police, famously at
the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968, perhaps it's not
surprising that Hayden has a generally dark view. Much of his talk,
which was advertised as an introduction to his new book A Tom Hayden
Reader, centered on the police presence at the convention in Denver.
Since the 1999 Seattle protests against the WTO, Hayden said that
there has been "a continuous police build-up that concerns me since
then." The brother of an old friend who lives on Denver's 16th Street
Mall told Hayden that "he had never seen anything like it
before"--that the police presence there is overwhelming, intimidating and edgy.
Apparently, the police have said that they have hundreds of weapons
stored next to the mall, and that they bring them out every night and
return them to their secret cache in the morning. Or anyway that's
what the brother has confided to Tom Hayden. "All these horses on the
mall -- it's like St. Petersburg 1905," Hayden said. The Denver
Police Department has received $50 million from the Department of
Homeland Security, according to Hayden. What concerns him is not only
the massive police presence at the convention (the cop who spilled
the beans about the weapons cache is convinced that something is
going to happen here) but also the newly purchased technology, which
will be used "in the barrio" long after the Democrats are gone. When
Hayden says that the police create "an imaginary argument with your
mind and with your nervous system," he almost seems to have made the point.
There's no need for so many police in Denver, Hayden says. "With
Obama having opposed the war, there's no real reason for
demonstrations." Hayden also feels that the "radicals of the 60s
don't get credit for what has happened for good in the Democratic
Party." He thinks there's too much harkening back to 1968. "All this
talk about '68 because we have a fascination with round numbers," he
quips. "Our country is full of the wreckage of the 60s."
Hayden observes that "there is a new social movement on a vast scale"
centered right now in the Obama Campaign. "These young people will
plant seeds for the next twenty-five years." But they are "small-d"
Democrats, Hayden says, and they are environmentalists and idealists.
"They don't want a war in :Pakistan!" And "if Obama loses, which I
think he might," Hayden says, nevertheless the Democratic Party will
have grown bigger. As for Obama, "he is losing. He is gonna lose the
Hayden does offer a taste of Obama hope. "He gets one more chance to
reboot, re-orient, redeploy." He offers the example of the Obama ad
campaign on the McCain houses as a primer on how rebooting works
these days. According to Hayden, some young investigators financed by
Brave New Films in Los Angeles went to Arizona and filmed all the
McCain homes and put the video on Youtube. Although the video went
viral, nothing happened politically until a reporter from Politico
saw it and then had a chance to ask John McCain himself the
now-famous number question. Only then, Hayden reminded us, did the
Obama team jump on. "Outsiders triggering situations -- that's the
only way to win."
Tom Hayden on the Obama-Biden ticket
August 29, 2008
Tom Hayden: Biden will not be a progressive pressure on Obama
With the Democratic National Convention in full swing, Tom Hayden
believes that Senator Joe Biden "will not be a progressive element on
Senator Barrack Obama" and that his selection as Obama's running mate
is not "a step in any direction." Hayden goes on to state that, "the
democrats are in danger of decoupling the war from the recession and
high oil prices."
Tom Hayden is an American social and political activist and
politician, most famous for his involvement in the antiwar and civil
rights movements of the 1960s. Hayden served in the California State
Assembly and the State Senate. His books include Rebel: A Personal
History of the 1960s; Ending the War in Iraq.
SHARMINI PERIES, JOURNALIST, TRNN: I'm joined by Tom Hayden, who is a
long-time journalist and antiwar activist for 40 years or more. And,
Tom, I really want to explore with you the Biden-Obama ticket. Is
that the best hope for change in terms of the wars that are currently
underway in Iraq and in Afghanistan?
TOM HAYDEN, AUTHOR AND ACTIVIST: Well, I would have preferred
Obama-Clinton. I've always been for Obama. But Machiavelli says keep
your enemy closest. So Obama should have brought the Clintons in. Now
they're free players, and God knows what will happen. Does Biden add
anything? If he gets a state, fine. You know, Kennedy picked Johnson
and got Texas, and the rest was history. I don't know if Biden can
bring a state. He's got a lunch-bucket image, friendly guy. He's
changed his position on many issues. We don't know what the
Republicans will dig up. He was wrong on Iraq in '02, but then, even
worse, he advocated partitioning and slicing up Iraq and destroying
it, turning it into three countries. Then, when he realized he had to
run for president in Iowa, where there are no defense plant workers
and everybody's for peace, then he adopted a deadline. So he will not
be a progressive pressure on Obamasomebody else will have to do
that. So what you're left with is: does Joe Biden bring in
Pennsylvania? Otherwise, well, maybe he'll serve to criticize McCain;
maybe he'll do well in the debate. Who knows? I don't think it's much
of a step in any direction.
PERIES: So in your panel this morning, you were actually proposing a
staged antiwar movement. So you said let's get Obama elected first.
So what's the second stage?
HAYDEN: Well, it's not my wish to go in stagesit's the reality of my
life. So we have 70 days. I don't know why we're talking about
anything else. You're either for Obama or you're not, and if you're
not, good luck talking to the black community or the Latino community
or trade unions in 2009. But we should be able to chew gum and walk:
you can vote for Obama, and you can still demonstrate, leaflet. For
instance, on September 20, there's a huge antiwar door-knocking
campaign called A Million Doors for Peace, which is an attempt to
spread the peace and justice messagenot for Obama, simply to keep it
in the public mind. So it's possible to do both, but there are
priorities. When you get close in elections and they're right around
the corner, you have to decide, given your limited energy and
resources, what are you going to do for the next month and a half of
your life or two months. The stages are these. McCain and Bush are
tied together in their opposition to a deadline for withdrawing
combat troops. They have long argued that deadlines are
inappropriate, a sign of weakness. Obama is for a deadline. I
understand it's only for combat troops and it's 16 months, but it's a
clear difference. And Obama, the supposedly inexperienced candidate,
is backed by the Iraqi prime minister that Bush put in office, Nouri
al-Maliki. So the antiwar movement set the stage for Obama to support
a deadline. That's historical fact. Obama has now set the stage for a
debate over a deadline with Obama and the Iraqis in agreement. In
fact, the Iraqi prime minister said the sooner the better. And Bush
and McCain are talking about horizons like they're on some drugno
deadline, no deadline. So I think that's a very important point.
Secondly, the Democrats are in danger of decoupling the war from the
recession and the oil prices. We have to go right at them that it's
the Iraq War that has taken $1 trillion to $3 trillion out of our
economy, and it's the Iraq War that has allowed the oil companies to
get back into those oil fields. And the antiwar movement has to
create ways to force these issues into the discussion. If we do
nothing, the discussion will move to the right. If we do something,
there's a hope that we can trigger a clarifying debate between Obama
PERIES: Also in the panel you said that Obama doesn't have enough
antiwar advisors around him. Why is that? And what can the movement
do to change that?
HAYDEN: Well, I think that Michelle Obama and the speech writer, the
young man, are probably the antiwar advisors. There are no antiwar
advisors who have national security credentials. It's one of the
diseases of our state that to be a "national security expert,"
quote-unquote, you have to have been wrong on several wars,
apparently, but you had to go to Georgetown, and you had to do the
right PhDs, and you always approached things from the narrow view of
America's interests. So these 300 advisors, none of them are
frontally against American foreign policy. They are against the Iraq
War because it's gone sour, and that's a small distinction that is
important. The debate is between one set of advisors who think we
should go fartherthe McCain advisorsand another who think we should
cut our losses and redeploy and refocusthat's the Obama advisors.
That's not a broad enough debate. We need a populist debate, we need
an antiwar voice, and it has to come from the voters and from other
politicians who are hearing the pressure of their voters, the Out of
Iraq Caucus, and so on.
PERIES: One last question to you, Tom. Is there a hope for a more
rational foreign policy, particularly towards war with the Obama-Biden ticket?
HAYDEN: Oh, I think Obama and Biden, particularly Obama, are more
rational, cool, you know, subject to arguments back and forth. It's a
little like when, I remember, John Kennedy was elected. We were very,
very unhappy, 'cause he ran supporting the Green Berets and he
invented a fake missile crisis against Nixon, then he implemented the
Bay of Pigs, and he learned the catastrophic problem of depending on
your advisors, who are not your friends. They are there to perpetuate
some of their interests, and they're using you. And he became much
more of a civil-rights and pro-peace president through that
experience before he was murdered. And I would hope that Obama
doesn't have to go through the same experience.
PERIES: Thank you very much, Tom.
HAYDEN: Thank you.