Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Write Them Off

So Obama beat Hillary like a rented mule in Wisconsin. She's clearly losing her core constituencies - just barely beating Obama among woman, and losing among men 2-1. No surprise there - why would any wage-earning man trying to support a family vote for someone that wants to "go after their wages" to subsidize Hillarycare for non wage-earners?

Hillary was the "presumptive nominee" just two short months ago, and she is supposed to be a smart, savvy politician. But the way she has squandered her lead, she seems like the 2007 Mets in their division race last September.

The conventional wisdom says that Texas and Ohio are the Clinton's last chance - their "firewall" - to stop the Obama tsunami. And I see a number of columns today that say she is all but beaten. If she doesn't win a decisive victory in those two states, the pressure on her to withdraw will start to become unbearable. The superdelegates will want to avoid a bitter floor fight that might split the party as badly as it was split in 1968. In addition, such a floor fight may risk alienating African Americans from their historic allegiance to the Democratic party. This would fatally wound the Democratic party, since the party hasn't won a plurality of the white vote since - 1964! So the scenario has superdelegates switching to Obama to avoid a nasty, divisive floor fight.

But all of these scenarios have a fatal flaw - they assume the Clintons have loyalty to the party, and they assume a sense of honor and dignity that they completely lack. Party loyalty meant nothing to Bill when he voted for welfare reform. And when he championed NAFTA. And especially when he subjected the party to the nasty impeachment battle - a battle that cost the Democrats the election in 2000.

Hillary knows this is her only chance, because the probability of Bill avoiding some personal scandal for 4 more years is effectively zero. So Bill and Hillary will get as nasty and as dirty as they need to be. They will have no problem going negative against Obama. I think we can expect:
1) Clinton spokespeople to start emphasizing Hillary's long standing patriotism, in order to draw attention to Michelle Obama's gaffe. Some September 11th commercials might serve nicely here.
2) You will start hearing a lot more about Obama's church - and the Rev. Wright.
3) We can safely expect another crying incident from Hillary, in order to make gender an issue again.
4) And I owe the Anchoress for this one: we might expect Bill to get sick all of a sudden. Some recurrence of his heart problems from a few years ago. This accomplishes two things. It gets Bill off the campaign trail, and it makes Hillary's tearful determination to continue campaigning seem more heroic.
5) And all the while, the Clinton library slush-fund will be used to pay off some superdelegates, and to chase down dirt on those who won't be bought.

No. As I've said before, they won't go gracefully, and they will not hesitate to destroy the party in their desperation to hold on to the only thing that means anything to them - power.

And if she does all this, and loses? Hillary will divorce Bill within a year, because she won't bank her Senate seat on his continued good behavior.

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