Monday, March 24, 2008

A cornered animal is a dangerous animal

The Clintons really show their true colors when the going gets tough -- you don't even need to look to the 90s ('right wing conspiracy' when everyone and their daughter knew Bill was a hound-dog?) to see that their sense of entitlement and faux outrage will lead them to generate more and more enormous whoppers as their dream of Restoration fades.

It happened before New Hampshire ('the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen,' the narcisissistic tears), in South Carolina (the Jesse Jackson comment, among others, but really too numerous to mention), Ohio and Texas (the 3 AM ad, the 'just words' nonsense - the clang from that 'change you can xerox' line is still thudding around in cyberspace), and now, as Obama gives not just a great political speech, but a truly Presidential address, in its complexity, intelligence, and inspirational calling on all of us to be the best we can be -- how do they respond? By clumsily invoking Obama's lack of patriotism.

Was it McCarthyism? No, I don't think so. (First of all, McCarthy wasn't running for anything.) I don't think President Clinton or Senator Clinton is nearly as Machiavellian as McCarthy was - I think they just can't help themselves. And at a time when of course the Democrats should be coming together -- the math makes it all but impossible for her to win, the country is in a mood for change, the economy is tanking, the Republican nominee admits he knows nothing about the economy, the war is unpopular and a huge drain on said economy, the war-backing Republican is confused about the issues even there -- "Shia? Shiite? Let's call the whole thing off!" -- you have the Clintons desperately, reflexively, instinctively making every argument they can make against Obama, throwing the kitchen sink and every other appliance within reach at the guy.

Part of me thinks, "You know what? Obama just keeps getting stronger and stronger, this is fine, this will all work out...." But another part of me, the part I suppose who actually lived through Bill Clinton's enormously entertaining and, pathologically speaking, fascinating Presidency, wonders, "How, exactly, do we imagine Hillary Clinton conceding?" Is it possible, even in the mind's eye, to conjure a moment where she steps aside gracefully, preserving her party's chances this Fall, her own potential future as an elected official, and her own integrity? I certainly hope so...

But the polls in Pennsylvania, and that state's apparent resistance to newness in its politics (you need to run a few times before the state will elect you, apparently), make the nightmare scenario pretty darn imaginable.... She wins big there. She follows with slight wins in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6, and suddenly, his May looks a lot like her February - dismal - and with this new "momentum," people start caring less and less about total delegate counts or even total popular vote counts -- and now he's the one on the defensive, and she has that cocky, appealing swagger she showed on Saturday Night Live -- she's got nothing left to lose now...

And somehow, between the end of the primaries and Denver, nearly three months later, she has recaptured, despite all the missteps of her faulty campaign, despite the nonsense and exaggeration and lies ('dodging sniper fire in Bosnia'?! really?) despite the fact that the Republicans still make no secret of the fact that they would still much rather run against her than him, despite all of it, she has recaptured the pre-voting sense of inevitability that surrounded her campaign, and so she sails into Denver like a champion, engineers a gentle, if brutal, coup, allows Barack Obama one more grand, glorious moment in the sun (he gives a Wednesday night concession speech that brings tears to the eyes, a sense of 'what might have been' that is physically painful), and then accepts the nomination - her crowning moment - whereupon she drives the Democratic Party into a grand, glorious defeat against the eminently beatable John McCain.

So watch out. These next few weeks will be ugly.


nyhusker said...

The problem with your scenario is that she will not win North Carolina and she probably won't win Indiana. Too, she'll lose Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, but she probably will win Kentucky and West Virginia. In addition, now that Bill Richardson has courageously come forward to endorse Obama, I think we'll see other superdelegates who owe the Clintons come out for Obama.

Nick said...

I wish you were right, nyhusker - but I don't much care for the way the polls are playing out right now --