Musings of a Hillary Fanboy

March 29, 2008

I’m not a big fan of Ralph Nader.  While I respect many of his ideas and the work he has done to protect consumers, I didn’t, and don’t, think his work is quite enough to qualify him to be POTUS.  Still, it was his right to run in 2000, bitter as I might be about his campaign’s role in Gore’s “loss,” and I respected that right.  This week, I respected his defense of Hillary Clinton against the arrogant, silly calls of Obama backers Patrick Leahy and Chris Dodd for her to leave the Democratic primary race.


What I find interesting about any elected official telling another elected official to pull out of a race is that they would never in a million years do so themselves.  They certainly wouldn’t if they ever found themselves in a situation like Hillary’s.  The first woman to be within reach of a major party nomination for president of the United States is 139 pledged delegates behind the first African American man to be within reach of a major party nomination for president of the United States.  She also leads Obama by 32 superdelegates, a profoundly retarded addition to the primary process which nonetheless exists.


Obama has won almost twice as many states as Hillary and his now legendary 11-state sweep was impressive, if only superficially.  One-half of the former superstar duo of the Democratic Party, Hillary has undoubtedly had a rough time of things.  Yet, despite his success, Obama has failed to close the deal each time he had a chance to clinch the nomination.  In “American Idol” parlance, each time he could have “made the song his own,” he “was a little pitchy, dawg.”  Coasting on the media euphoria from his big sweep, having almost erased HIllary’s sizable lead in the week before the contest, Obama lost Ohio by 10 points.  Having started that primary night winning Vermont, he closed it by losing the Texas primary.  Winning Ohio and/or Texas would have effectively sealed his nomination.

What should be more alarming to those Democrats looking ahead to November are Obama’s other losses.  Clinton beat him in California, New Mexico, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Michigan (sorta) and Florida (oh please, if Obama can claim he suffered in name recognition, I can claim to be the King of England).  She currently enjoys a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania, with Obama’s only significant endorsement there coming from Bob Casey, with his Bushesque grudge against the Clintons for slighting his daddy about a million years ago.


With the exception of Arizona (McCain territory) and Arkansas (although a Clinton could paint it blue once again) all of those states are important to a Democratic victory in November.  Much more important than all Obama’s Heartland caucus states highly unlikely to be any help to the Democrats in the general election.  No, Hillary Clinton cannot win the nomination by taking Pennsylvania.  She needs landslide victories in the remaining contests to overtake Obama in pledged delegates (provided Michigan and Florida remain unseated).  Yet, for all the victories, all the hype, all the “high profile” endorsements, Obama can’t win the nomination, either, without his still formindable competition giving up.  That should be of concern to voters who want a Democrat in the White House in 2009.


Why, then, the calls for Hillary to leave the race?  Such calls are entirely contrary to the democratic process.  Complaints that Democratic squabbling is helping the Republicans?  Hogwash.  Not knowing who he’ll face in November, McCain can’t do anything but flog the same tired war hero story he’s been peddling since 1999.  Arguments that it would be wrong for superdelegates to vote for Hillary if Obama has more pledged delegates?  Rubbish.  Those arguments weren’t advanced when superdelages jumped from Hillary’s ship in the wake of Obama’s 11-state sweep and they make no sense now.


Superdelegates are UNpledged.  If Hillary adds Pennsylvania to her collection of much needed, very-important-come-November blue states, she is not so far behind in any other regard for it to be deemed unfair for superdelegates to give her the nomination.  This is especially true when one considers the alternative.  Obama’s collection of African American voters, limousine liberals and college kids stuck in the red state hells of Idaho, Georgia, Utah, Wyoming, etc., is the general election equivalent of Bush’s Coalition of the Willing.  Obama has also failed to connect with Hispanic voters, “si se puede” aside, who went overwhelmingly for Clinton in Texas.  In California and Florida, Hispanic (as well as seemingly Obama-phobic Asian) voters could put their states solidly in the Democratic column in the fall.

Also alarming is that Obama’s loss in Ohio came after his campaign proved itself completely incapable of handling criticism from another candidate or the national media.  Forget Hillary’s commercials!  Republicans will be taking cues from LBJ or Bush I’s playbooks.  Eloquent speeches on important but general topics won’t be enough to satisfy a press hungry for details on comparatively more nuanced foreign policy issues or economic concerns.


It’s time for everyone involved, from the candidates and their campaigns to party leaders, uninvolved politicians, the media and the voters to take Bill Clinton’s advice and “chill out.”  No one, not Ralph Nader, Mike Huckabee and especially not someone who has achieved what Hillary Clinton has both superficially and substantively, should be forced from a political race in a democratic country.


It might be prudent for Democrats to remember what happened the last time a major party threw its support behind one candidate and prematurely thrust another out of competition.  Bush triumphed over McCain and went on to serve two of the most disastrous terms in American presidential history.  How ironic it would be if a Democratic rush to judgment gave McCain the White House eight years later.    



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