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Friday, March 28, 2008

End Games

posted by on March 28 at 9:50 AM

My column this week:


Hillary Clinton may be on track to win the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, but along the way to that contest she is losing something essential: the willingness of Democrats, political journalists, and opinion leaders to continue suspending their disbelief about the possibilities of her campaign.

More and more people are saying the obvious: It takes a kind of departure from reality usually reserved for movie theaters in order to imagine that this adventure really ends with Clinton winning the Democratic nomination.

She is behind in fundraising. She is behind in the popular vote. She is behind in the delegate count. She would need an extraordinarily large—and therefore extraordinarily unlikely—margin of victory in Pennsylvania in order to make any significant progress in closing any of those gaps.

The math is simply not on her side, and winning the Democratic nomination is not about a series of those now-familiar “Clinton comeback” moments interspersed with repeated stretches of Clinton defeat. It is, in the end, about math: adding up enough delegates to win.

Which Obama is in the process of doing. Not Clinton.

Comments from a local precinct delegate who is switching (in despair and disgust) from Clinton to Obama, plus some push-back from a local Clinton fan and some news from Sen. Maria Cantwell, when the column continues.

RSS icon Comments


Clinton is counting on superdelegates, pure and simple. Hence the hardball tactics on Pelosi for suggesting that superdelegates should not overturn the will of elected delegates:

And also hence why Dean just put forward a non-binding deadline of July 1 for superdelegates to declare who they will support.

Posted by Trevor | March 28, 2008 10:03 AM

The problem for Hillary is that while she has a heavy lead in Pennsylvania, that vote isn't for another 3 weeks, and she is not gaining a lick of traction. In other words, she has nowhere to go but down.

If she could swing NC and IN her way along with PA, that would be different, but it seems like she's all but given up on those contests. I expect PA to get a heck of a lot closer than it is looking now.

Posted by K | March 28, 2008 10:20 AM

fluteprof, ECB, and others are going to blow their lids when they read this. They are in deep denial.

Posted by McCain/Crist '08! | March 28, 2008 10:22 AM

I find it interesting that our Senators are rooting for Clinton, but our Governor is not. Tells you a lot. As you guys said, Clinton bailed out Cantwell when she needed her and thus Cantwell owes her allegiance. Not sure what Ron Sims owes Clinton.

Posted by D. | March 28, 2008 10:25 AM

Time for Ron to go..

Posted by Clint | March 28, 2008 10:43 AM

No denial here @3, been saying HRC going to lose and Obama gong to win since Super Tuesday.

But to think HRC is going to give up or that most politicians would give up or that most people committed to a cause give up or that it's tacky or weird that she doens't give up is denial, ignorance and juvenile cheerleading.

And continuing to talk about delegate math -- expecially math based on disenfranchsing voters in FL and MI -- is sooooo off message for Obama.

So, these are the things Obama has the power to do that will BOTH help nudge HRC into acceptance of defeat as well as help win in November:

1. seat FL and MI. Yesterday we saw this only reduces the Obama pledged delegate lead from about 170 to about 115 (nos. not exact). There isn't any chance at all that the future primaries will alter his being in the lead. Seating FL and MI

It helps win FL and MI in the Fall, and it takes away a huge issue from HRC.

2. Offer HRC VP.
When I say that I mean precisely this: talking her up, saying she's great, saying the VP choice has to be vetted and go thru a process including many qualified candidates blah blah but perhaps telling her in the back room : cut it out now, or else you are off the list. Telling her something so she knows it's her but no one can say so yet and no promises yet.

Obama's a great pol, he knows how to do the deal so it can't look like a deal.

No better way to get the full throated support of the approx. 48.5% of the Demo voters who chose her over Obama.
Those voters WE need to WIN in the fall.

LBJ didn't drop in 1960, Kennedy didn't drop when fighting Carter, Bush didn't drop out when fighting Reagan. People just don't freaking drop out and suggesting it's abnormal to keep running is simply a false stigmatizing lie propagated by the intensely pro Obama media in this race.

Obama: be a leader. Be the change you know we want. Be for unity. Do the above and you can sort of declare victory right after NC and IN (ie, say you expect to win the nomination and you will focus on the economy and Iraq and McCain and you are starting a vetting group to get ahead on cabinet and VP choices as well as planning how to get out of Iraq and the mortgage mess etc.).
Shit, put Dodd and Biden and Edwards on the advisory committee too.

Kennedy chose LBJ and won.
Ford didn't chose Reagan and lost.
Reagan chose Bush and won.
And Abe Lincoln is revered in history books for asking rivals to serve him.

If Obama is like AL or JFK, he'll do it.

Oh btw new polls today showing that Democrats support making Clinton the VP by about 2:1 if OBama gets the nod.

All the folks who are crying about superdelegates not following the iwll of the people? A little consistency would say follow the will of the people on this, too.

And btw we all better start figuring out how Obama is going to win in the Fall when it seem he can't win big media driven states like CA NY PA OH FL NJ MA and recent polls show McCain winning over Obama in PA FL MO OH and tied in VA and MN.

As a strategy, "let's carp at HRC till she drops out, then we'll have unity thru utter defeat, then we'll ask her and her supporters to support us whole heartedly while giving her nothing but brickbats and insults" is stoooooooopid.


Posted by unPC | March 28, 2008 10:47 AM

I know St. Barack of Obama is like everyone's boyfriend, but deep down you know you're bracing for heartbreak. That affairs that burn this bright cannot last. That you're wondering when he will stop calling you. Or you'll catch him out on the town with another. Smiling wanly.

Look, he won't beat Clinton, and can't beat McCain. The louder you scream, the more you reveal what's in your heart: fear. That some piece of sordid history is about to be revealed. That he will make another rookie mistake. That he knows (even more) black people who like cameras. That in three or four months the sups will all switch to Clinton.

Oh yeah, and he's counting on sups just as much as Hilsey. So get over it.

Posted by fluteprof | March 28, 2008 10:53 AM

I know I'm just feeding the trolls and repeating the obvious, but...

To unPC: Obama only lost California by nine points and lost Clinton's "home state" of New York by less than 20. If you HONESTLY think - meaning not just spewing pipe dream sewage - those states would vote for McCain over Obama, then you're insane.

To fluteprof: Why do you continue to think anyone believes what you say?

Posted by Georgia Guy | March 28, 2008 11:02 AM

fluteprof: Superdelegates are switching over to Obama right now. Never mind June. You know something the rest of us don't? Cite your sources.

Posted by JC | March 28, 2008 11:10 AM

It's The Entitlement, Stupid.

Hillary refuses to face the trends, the votes of the people across the country in large margins, the delegate math, the voices in leadership of her own party--and it's now glaringly apparent.

For loyal Democrats such as myself, who once respected her during the Clinton years, it is a very sadly revelation of her political character (or lack of it). It is painful to witness.

Haven't we suffered enough under the Current President of Deep Denial, much less elect another one?

Her kneecapping of Obama (as, just today, Bill Clinton again trumpeted McCain) is an indication the Clintons transcended any remaining scrap of party loyalty. The gloves have come off, the masks have come off, and we are seeing exactly what sort leadership she (or they) would offer.

This isn't the Obama Kool-Aid talking. Her behavior speaks for itself, even to those not beholden to the Barack camp.

The question now is how does the Democratic Party save itself without too publically chastising its former leaders and standard-bearer?

To take a quote from Hillary herself, "Shame on you, Shame on you, Hillary Clinton."

Posted by Andy Niable | March 28, 2008 11:39 AM

@6 - item 2 is not going to happen. She blew the chance of that happening with her actions since Super Tuesday.

I'm wondering which one of Richardson, Dodd, or that Gov from Ohio are going to win the VP nod.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 28, 2008 11:43 AM

I agree with UnPC. Obama needs to offer her the VP slot. End the war with the Clintons, and start attacking the GOP.

@Will in Seattle: I think one of the best candidates for VP is Feingold. I think Richardson would make a good secretary of state. Dodd should stay in the senate, where he is effective.

What if Obama offered Bloomberg the VP slot? Bloomberg has the money and credibility to woo democrats and independants. And it would position Bloomberg to run as an independant president. Which would be AMAZING.

The ecomony is weighing heavily on people's minds. Obama needs someone with a solid ecomonic background.

Also, the GOP may not care about losing this election. It's like when Bush Sr. won the election after the Reagen years then suffered all the economic problems that had been building, allowing the democrats to take the office. Who knows, but whoever gets it.....GOOD LUCK WITH ALL THAT!

Posted by Original Monique | March 28, 2008 12:37 PM

I was in Texas this week. For those of you who believe things like "a Hillary Clinton nomination will do more to mobilize the right wing faster than you can blink", I will tell you this. You need to seriously check your assumptions.

When it come to the Right, the Conservatives, and the Republicans, when you say Obama to them, they get seriously worked up. I talked with a lot of those folks (some family members, neighbors and just some random folks out around town). And they seriously hate Obama. They think he is smug and arrogant.

Don't get me wrong, they don't exactly like Hillary but they are way more comfortable with her as the President. So, if you are one of those people who does not support Hillz because you think she is too controversial, I suggest you rethink your assumptions.

As far as I am concerned, I don't vote anymore for the person I think is most 'electable'. I vote for the person I agree with and the person I think who will get the things done that I want to see get done.

Posted by Don't Mess With | March 28, 2008 12:43 PM

@13--ANY Democrat other than a blue-dog or turncoat like Lieberman is going to give the Faithful Far Right fits, just like any Republican other than Lowell Weicker is going to cause the most passionate Progressives to foam at the mouth.

But I'd hardly calibrate my expectations of the National Reaction to Obama by a group of Conservatives in Texas.

Trust me, the Obama people know what's coming.

And what some see as "arrogance" others see as cool, level-headed (and non-shrill) resolve.

Posted by Andy Niable | March 28, 2008 12:57 PM

if i were bill clinton, i would ask all nmedia to please start referring to hillary her as only "hillary" or "rodham"--when i hear the name "clinton" now, i of course think only of her, & it's reallly damaging the brand

not that i condone bill's behavior, but after all the shit that hillary has said & done recently, i'm starting to see why bill would want to have sex with women who were not her

she needs to drop out ASAP!

Posted by glen keenan | March 28, 2008 1:18 PM

At the next debate, I would like to see each candidate asked who they would vote for in the general if the other was the Dem nominee.

Posted by Smade | March 28, 2008 1:25 PM

i think when they say 'arrogant' they mean 'uppity'

Posted by lar | March 28, 2008 1:38 PM

@12 - I personally agree that Russ Feingold would be a great VP, but I don't think, politically, he'll be on the short list, OM.

I doubt Bloomberg will be actively considered by any of the three candidates (Obama, Clinton, McCain), although it is a remote possibility for McCain to consider him. Most people expect he might choose Romney to infill in his economic weakness side.

That said, none of the GOP tickets look viable in the real world.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 28, 2008 1:48 PM

Agreed, No. 16: And I think they should ask HRC first.....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | March 28, 2008 2:16 PM

Having Obama offer the VP to Clinton really makes no sense. It mollifies some hard-core Ds, but alienates far more moderate Ds, youth, independents and Rs who might otherwise vote for Obama. Also, it guarantees a huge turnout of Clinton-haters who might otherwise just stay home in November if they're not enchanted with McCain. It is quite possibly the worst baggage he could bring on board the ticket.

Plus, Clinton shows zero interest in being Obama's VP. The traditional ways of showing interest are (1) not attacking the front-runner and (2) suspending the campaign. After all, if Obama completely melts down in the next month or so (Clinton's only real hope), she's going to get the nomination anyway.

Posted by kk | March 28, 2008 2:44 PM

the math is against her. she's tanking in the polls. she's running out of cash. the only reason she's still in it is becauase of the enormous amount of power she and her husband weild within the democratic party. if the situation were reversed, the pressure on obama to drop out at this point would have no doubt been insurmountable, and i suspect he would have obliged. hell, he probably would have been out before march 4.

but VP? i seriously doubt she would be willing to play second fiddle. and she doesn't bring much to the table anyway. what, her husband had the incredibly good fortune of having his presidency overlap with the internet bubble, ergo she's good with the economy? that's one hell of a non-sequitur.

Posted by brandon | March 28, 2008 3:04 PM


"Look, he won't beat Clinton,"

He already has, dipshit. Stop sucking Hillary's dick, plz.

Posted by AMB | March 28, 2008 4:08 PM

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