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February 25, 2008
Hillary Clinton's Desperation
Allow me to state the
obvious first: Were it not for this nonsense with the superdelegates,
the 2008 Democratic primary process would already be over.
Barack Obama is leading
Hillary Clinton in overall votes, delegates, states won, and (most of
all) momentum. Obama has won 10 states in a row, in all geographic
regions of the country, and in just about every state he has erased
early Clinton leads and won convincingly. In Wisconsin last week, Obama
won by 13 points, equaling Clinton even among her primary demographics.
With Texas and Ohio,
must-wins for Clinton, looming on March 4, the messages put out by
Clinton's campaign have grown increasingly desperate-sounding, when not
totally incomprehensible. Perhaps that's what Clinton gets for trusting
the increasingly unhinged pollster/adviser Mark Penn, who seems
dedicated in this election cycle to proving that a frontrunning
Democratic campaign doesn't necessarily need Bob Schrum at the helm to
screw things up completely.
It's almost as though
the Clintons have devoted this campaign to proving right every
Republican talking point from the '90s about how "ruthless" they are.
Among the more
ridiculous ideas put out by the Clinton camp in recent weeks:
- Obama was accused of
"plagiarizing" a speech from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is a
friend of the candidate's, has endorsed him, approved of the rhetorical
lift and – perhaps most importantly – shares the same speechwriter,
David Axelrod. Not only was this the subject of an hour-long conference
call last week, but days after it died down, Sen. Clinton felt the need
to hammer the point home during Thursday's CNN debate.
- In perhaps the most
egregiously wrong application of liberal identity politics in history,
the Clinton campaign's Michigan chairman argued that pledged delegates
from red states won by Obama are in fact "second-class delegates."
- The constant
repeating of the idea that Obama is somehow a "messianic" figure, and
his supporters are a "cult," just because he's clearly more popular and
inspiring than the other candidate. He's just a popular politician.
What's wrong with that? Besides, the GOP's continuing Reagan cult is
much, much creepier.
- Then there's the
Clinton camp's insane, clearly extralegal plan to seat the Florida and
Michigan delegates, in defiance of the DNC, as well as an agreement
reached among all the presidential campaigns. If you don't want these
voters "disenfranchised," the solution is clear: Have another primary,
with all the candidates on the ballot. But to seat the delegates now is
beyond the pale, even by modern political standards. It's not just
changing the rules in the middle of the game. It's writing new rules
long after the game's been over.
- Writing on the web
site of blogger/talk show host Taylor Marsh, guest blogger Paul Lukasiak
attempted to argue that if you go by exit polls (not actual votes),
ignore caucuses, ignore states with open primaries, include Michigan and
Florida, and ignore everything since Super Tuesday, Hillary is actually
ahead in support among Democrats. When Hillary supporters have to resort
to such pretzel-like rationalizations to argue for good news, it's an
indication that it may be time to fold up the tent.
Just about everyone in
America who is any kind of political junkie has long dreamed of a
brokered convention – actual drama and uncertainty, instead of the
stage-managed affairs we're used to seeing for the past few decades.
This year, when it may actually happen, it remains a very real
possibility that the superdelegate system will nominate the candidate
who received less support, thus tearing the party right in two and
blowing the Democrats' best election chance in years.
Sure, what the Clintons
are throwing at Obama is likely a mere warm-up for what the Republicans
will be hitting him with throughout the summer and fall. But things hit
a new low last week on National Review's The Corner blog. On it,
writer Lisa Schriffin argued that because everyone of interracial
extraction who she met growing up had parents who met through Communist
politics, perhaps Obama's did as well. Although Schiffrin offered no
evidence of this or anything like that, she did suggest that "some
investigative journalism" be done on the matter. I think if one of
Stephen Colbert's staffers brought that up in a writers' meeting, he'd
reject it as too over-the-top.
With the primaries
continuing longer than usual and more and more states getting to vote,
it would a shame if more people voting – and having their votes counted
– than ever before found themselves overruled at the convention. But
since Obama seems to erase Hillary leads in just about every state as
the primary approaches, perhaps he'll sweep Ohio and Texas and put that
nightmare scenario to rest.
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