|TNR's Jonathan Chait delivered the line of the night tonight on "Tucker" -- so funny Tucker could barely recover. Paraphrasing, as he described his insightfully hilarious article enjoining Hillary to just "go already" (from the campaign,) Chait said that the Dems are poised to lose the most winnable election in our lifetimes, even facing John McCain, who, "like Mr. Magoo, stumbled through all sorts of mine fields and somehow emerged on the other side." Great line. And here's the TNR piece.
The morning after Tuesday's primaries, Hillary Clinton's campaign released a memo titled "The Path to the Presidency." I eagerly dug into the paper, figuring it would explain how Clinton would obtain the Democratic nomination despite an enormous deficit in delegates. Instead, the memo offered a series of arguments as to why Clinton should run against John McCain--i.e., "Hillary is seen as the one who can get the job done"--but nothing about how she actually could. Is she planning a third-party run? Does she think Obama is going to die? The memo does not say.
The reason it doesn't say is that Clinton's path to the nomination is pretty repulsive. She isn't going to win at the polls. Barack Obama has a lead of 144 pledged delegates. That may not sound like a lot in a 4,000-delegate race, but it is. Clinton's Ohio win reduced that total by only nine. She would need 15 more Ohios to pull even with Obama. She isn't going to do much to dent, let alone eliminate, his lead.
That means, as we all have grown tired of hearing, that she would need to win with superdelegates. But, with most superdelegates already committed, Clinton would need to capture the remaining ones by a margin of better than two to one. And superdelegates are going to be extremely reluctant to overturn an elected delegate lead the size of Obama's. The only way to lessen that reluctance would be to destroy Obama's general election viability, so that superdelegates had no choice but to hand the nomination to her. Hence her flurry of attacks, her oddly qualified response as to whether Obama is a Muslim ("not as far as I know"), her repeated suggestions that John McCain is more qualified.
Clinton's justification for this strategy is that she needs to toughen up Obama for the general election-if he can't handle her attacks, he'll never stand up to the vast right-wing conspiracy. Without her hazing, warns the Clinton memo, "Democrats may have a nominee who will be a lightening rod of controversy." So Clinton's offensive against the likely nominee is really an act of selflessness. And here I was thinking she was maniacally pursuing her slim thread of a chance, not caring--or possibly even hoping, with an eye toward 2012-that she would destroy Obama's chances of defeating McCain in the process. I feel ashamed for having suspected her motives. ...
Labels: 2008 election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, politics and elections