Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Slash and Burn

Some in the press seem to be echoing the ridiculous talking point that Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, put out on Friday that because Obama has poured more resources into today's races that he has to win all four or be considered a failure. It seems that some in the press have come full circle from fawning over Obama to now towing the Clinton line. Both approaches are wrong and show the lack of actual independent thought and research going on in political coverage today.

The truth is that three weeks ago Barack Obama faced double digit deficits in both Texas and Ohio and has closed that gap considerably. If he were to actually win one of the big states tonight, it should be considered practically a political miracle. Hillary Clinton, after losing 10 straight contests still entered the race for Texas and Ohio as a prohibitive favorite. I predicted on February 13th that Hillary would win comfortably in Ohio and squeak by in Texas. I still stand by that prediction. I do believe that because of the wacky primacaucus in Texas, she may actually lose the delegate race, but winning the popular vote should be more than enough for her to claim victory there. And while the race in Rhode Island has gotten closer, she should still come out with a victory there. That leaves Vermont for Obama to hang his hat on.

The press will once again be falling all over themselves to proclaim that Hillary now has the momentum and that the race is up for grabs. That denies the simple truth that the delegate math simply does not work in her favor. The question that should be asked of the Clinton campaign is how exactly do they expect to win the nomination. Barring a spectacular flameout by Obama, the only real way that she can win is to take the race to the convention and either convince the super delegates to vote for her or somehow get the DNC to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations. So her only real chance of winning at this point is to blow apart the Democratic party at the convention. I'm not really sure why no one has asked this question of the Clinton campaign (considering the MASSIVE media bias against her), but I'm sure the answer would be very interesting.

If the delegate race remains substantially unchanged after tonight's vote, you will begin to see more super delegates start to announce their support for Obama. Bill Richardson said over the weekend that whoever comes out of today's vote with a substantial lead in delegates should be the nominee. Given Obama's lead of 150 delegates, the only way for Hillary to have a substantial lead on Wednesday morning would be if she won every single delegate on Tuesday night. That is clearly not going to happen.

The leaders of the Democratic party are probably now beginning to become alarmed at the negative tone that the Clinton campaign has taken. Hillary has mocked every aspect of Obama's campaign in the past week. From ridiculing his message to ridiculing his experience. In fact she actually said that John McCain would be better prepared to handle an emergency than Obama would. She is now in "no turning back" territory. Two weeks ago she said she was honored to share the stage with Obama, now she says that his biggest accomplishment was a speech he gave in 2002. She has decided that belittling an denigrating her opponent is the best way to win the Democratic nomination. There are two problems with that strategy. First, I don't think that she can win the nomination without some major back room dealing. And secondly she risks polarizing the Democratic base to such a degree that it will be impossible for either her or Obama to win in November. Supporters of Obama will say that his just more of the same Clinton dirty tactics that they always use when they're in trouble. The Clinton supporters will say that Obama isn't ready to be President. That will lead to either massive defection or massive indifference come election day. Do you think that Obama's supporters will look kindly upon a candidate who basically called them idiots for supporting their candidate of choice?

I have no problem with Hillary Clinton continuing her campaign until the convention. It is her right. What I do object to is the manner in which she has now chosen to run her campaign. I can see the delight on the faces of the Republican pundits on television as they revel in the possibility of facing a bloodied and beaten candidate in November. I can come to no other conclusion than that Hillary Clinton has decided that winning this race against Obama is more important than the Democrats winning in November. In the past I have said that I didn't think anything was off the table when it came to the Clinton campaign. However, I really thought that when push came to shove, she wouldn't resort to the scorched earth plan. Clearly I have given her too much credit. If ridiculing your opponent and his supporters is your most effective strategy, then clearly the message of your own campaign isn't compelling enough to win the day.

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