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The Many Ways Forward

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Hillary Clinton won a comfortable victory in Pennsylvania last night, prevailing by just under 10 points. I had an interesting debate with some friends last night while the results were coming in. My point of view has been that, whatever the damage done by the Primary That Never Ends, as long as it's wrapped up in June there will plenty of time to pull the party together and beat John McCain. I argued that by that point, a sufficient number of superdelegates would have broken towards Obama to give him a majority.

But I was presented with an alternative scenario. What if enough delegates don't endorse Obama? Even if they do, what if Clinton still doesn't concede? What if she fights all the way to the convention, attempting to pick off pledged delegates and super delegates? If that were to happen, then the Democratic Party would likely be doomed in November. There just wouldn't be time to re-unite in what would be an eight-week general election, and a large proportion of Clinton's supporters likely wouldn't accept the result. It would go down as the most destructive presidential primary contest since 1976 (Ford-Reagan). In short, they believed that Hillary Clinton was going to blow up the party.

I suppose this all comes down to two things. The first question is, will Obama win Indiana? It is unclear who has the advantage in the state. If Obama were to win both Indiana and North Carolina on May 6th, that would likely be enough to cause the superdelegates to break, and probably force Clinton to accept the inevitable (although not for certain). She would come under enormous pressure to quit at that point. If Clinton wins, she has an incentive to drag this out until the end of June, and maybe longer.

The more important question is - what kind of person is Hillary Clinton? My friends argued that she is either delusional or ill-advised or just hell-bent on winning no matter what the cost. One person claimed that she doesn't care anything for the Democratic Party. That is the portrayal of the "evil" Hillary Clinton we've heard over the last twenty years. If Clinton did do a kamikaze, then it would prove every bad thing everybody ever said about her.

But I don't think (hope) that's who she is. I think she thinks that there is a small, if shrinking, possibility that she can win the nomination. I think she can't bring herself to drop out while she's still winning primaries, even though by not enough to make up much ground. I also think that she is running such an aggressive campaign because she is in a corner (when people do desperate things) and needs to behave in this manner in order to keep winning votes and raising money.

At the end of the day, though, I suspect that at some point Clinton will accept that all she is doing is electing John McCain President. If that were to happen, I think she would take the blame, and become one of the most hated figures in American politics. If she wants a Cabinet position, or to be Vice President, or to be Majority Leader, she can do that now. But if this goes on to the Convention, all she will be is the person who gave the Republicans another four years. And I really don't believe she wants that.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 9:24 AM
  • I must disagree. A lot of people think she can do it, and the exit polls suggest that Obama's not going to carry the Reagan Democrats in the GE, which would be a huge problem in PA and OH. (Given that I don't think either MI or FL will vote dem at this point.)

    By Blogger lost clown, at 1:25 AM  
  • The thought I left out is that I don't think Obama not carrying the Reagan dems has anything to do with Hillary.

    By Blogger lost clown, at 1:26 AM  
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