Read David's bio and previous columns here
February 12, 2008
The Conservative Quandary: Hillary
Clinton or Barack Obama?
What was once thought utterly inevitable is
now looking as shaky as it ever has: Sen. Barack Obama appears to be
leading Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He was closer than expected on Super Tuesday, and won caucuses in
Nebraska, Washington and Maine this weekend. And it appears that he will
sweep the Chesapeake primaries (Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C.)
today, giving him the lead in actual delegate count for the first time.
While bigger states such as Ohio, Texas and
Pennsylvania are yet to come, and Hillary has put all her effort into
them, we've already seen with Rudy Giuliani what can happen when a
candidate sits it out for too long and willingly concedes too much.
Others get all the headlines and momentum, and pretty soon they're
rolling downhill, unable to be stopped. And the bulwark thought
represented by those later, larger states suddenly winds up being the
proverbial butter right through which the hot knife plunges.
Being a conservative, in one sense it
doesn't really matter to me who wins this battle, as both are far more
liberal than I can stand. Obviously, my only real interest in this is to
see as long, drawn-out and bloody a battle as possible, with a maximum
of hard feelings and resentment left burning when all is said and done.
Perhaps with luck, we can have two candidates who are both
disliked by a large portion of their own party's base.
That said, should there be any preference
between Hillary and Obama? There is a case to be made either way.
Hillary would most likely be a very flawed
candidate, bringing along all the Clinton baggage, plus whatever anger
the Obama crowd might have for the manipulation of delegates that could
well be needed to assure her the nomination. That includes influencing
super-delegates and suing to get Michigan and Florida delegates, which
broke heavily for her, reinstated.) Not to mention the highest
negatives and strongest dislike in the history of political polling.
On the other hand, if there is a legitimate
chance to finish off the Clintons once and for all, why on Earth would
anyone take the chance of letting them get back up off the mat to fight
a little more?
Obama would look like an inexperienced
neophyte next to Sen. John McCain, and lose the all-important “who looks
more like a Commander-in-Chief” contest by a landslide. He has yet to
say anything of any substance, and could well get rings run around him
in a non-primary debate where simply sounding like Martin Luther King
Jr. and saying the word “change” as many times as possible simply isn't
going to cut it anymore.
On the other hand, Obama could look young
and vibrant next to McCain, who'd be the oldest president ever to take
office. It could be Kennedy versus Nixon all over again, only worse,
given how much style and likeability trump substance these days. And any
conservative point McCain brings up to demonstrate Obama's extreme
liberalism can easily be countered by calling it a flip-flop or
pandering, thanks to McCain's own liberal track record.
This is a difficult choice. Using the facts
on the ground, the best scenario would seem to be for Hillary to wrest
the nomination away from Obama using a maximum of shenanigans that would
anger the Obama followers and cause the black vote to stay home. That,
combined with existing baggage and negatives, would result in a fatally
crippled victor. (Hillary would then almost certainly both bribe and
threaten Obama to get him on the ticket as vice president, in hopes that
most if not all of what she had just done to him would be forgotten.
Hopefully, Obama will see that Hillary will need him far more than he
needs her and stay away from it.)
Finally, and perhaps most ironically, we
conservatives can actually help to directly determine the outcome. With
McCain having the GOP nomination all but wrapped up, and open primaries
in Texas and Ohio, the Democratic primaries can now be hijacked in
reverse. Independents and conservatives can cross over just as
independents and liberals did in early Republican contests. It seems
only right, fair and just that they get a taste of their own medicine.
To be sure, with the turnout so much higher on the Democratic side, the
effect will be less, but in a neck-and-neck race, even the smallest
swing vote could have power well beyond their actual numbers.
So the question remains – whom shall our
preference be? As tempting as it is to try and force a crippled Hillary
with an angered black electorate to face a crippled McCain with an
angered conservative electorate, I cannot go that way for two reasons.
First, because Hillary might find a way to get Obama on the ticket even
in spite of all she'll do to him to deny him the nomination, and then
she'll not be nearly so crippled. And a Hillary/Obama ticket is likely
the only way the two will combine, which is the worst-case scenario of
But more than that, she is so evil that she
and Bill must be stopped once and for all at the very first opportunity.
Better to have a far-left bungling neophyte than an evil communist
dictator wannabe. Better Jimmy Carter, as bad as he was, than Josephine
As for Obama, if the Republican Party and
Sen. McCain can't find a way to defeat a far-left first-term senator
with the built-in resumé advantage McCain brings to the table, age and
appearance disadvantage notwithstanding, they don't deserve to win. And
if the voters are stupid and shallow enough to elevate Obama's empty
style over McCain's substance, they deserve to have a Carter reprise.
North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback
about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column # DKK104.
permission to publish here.