Rout of the Rebel Angels, by William Blake

A Dog Starv'd

A dog starv'd at his master's gate
Predicts the ruin of the state.
      -- William Blake,
     "Auguries of Innocence"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sinking Ship?

Sinking frigate, by bas3lin3 of
Hillary's time may have come and gone, although she and her spokespeople deny it by the minute.

Various pundits (per the NY Times) are declaring the primary race all but over:

“I think there’s an increasing presumption tonight that Obama’s going to be the nominee,” Chris Wallace, the Fox News host, said to Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political guru, who is now a Fox News analyst....

A posting on the DailyKos Web site included a mock memo to Mrs. Clinton titled, “To-Do List Before Dropping Out.”

Speaking on CNN, David Gergen, a former adviser to several presidents, including Mrs. Clinton’s husband, said, “I think the Clinton people know the game is almost up.”

Stating it more bluntly, Bob Franken, the political analyst, told the MSNBC host Dan Abrams shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, “Let’s put it right on the table: It’s over. It’s over.”

And it picked up again on the major morning news programs in a devastating cascade of sound bites for Mrs. Clinton and her campaign.

Bob Schieffer on the CBS News program “Early Show”: “Basically, Maggie, this race is over.”

George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program “Good Morning America”: “This nomination fight is over.”

Matt Lauer on the NBC News program “Today”: “Good morning, is it over?”

The commentary was punctuated by some brutal morning newspaper headlines: "Toast!” blared The New York Post; “Hil Needs a Miracle” declared The New York Daily News.

Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd does the give-with-one-hand, take-with-the-other routine:

In his memoir, the legendary Elia Kazan wrote about directing Vivien Leigh in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” While he did not think that Leigh was a great natural actress, he was impressed that she would crawl through glass to get the role right.

Hillary Clinton may not be a great natural politician, but traveling across the country on her own Bus Named Desire, she has crawled through glass to get the role right...

Hillary is less Blanche than Scarlett. “Heaven help the Yankees if they capture you,” Rhett told the willful belle at the start of her rugged odyssey.

And heaven help the Democrats as they try to shake off Hillary. On top of her inane vows to obliterate Iran, OPEC and the summer gas tax, she plans “a nuclear option” during her Shermanesque march to Denver. Tom Edsall reported on The Huffington Post that the Hillaryites will try, at a May 31 meeting of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee, to renege on their word and get the Michigan and Florida delegations seated. Addressing supporters here, she urged the counting of the Florida and Michigan votes, noting “it would be a little strange to have a nominee chosen by 48 states.”

“It’s full speed onto the White House,” she said...

It’s hard to believe that this Hillary is the same Wellesley girl who said she yearned for a more “ecstatic and penetrating mode of living.” What would that young Hillary — who volunteered on Gene McCarthy’s anti-war campaign; who cried the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed; who referred to some of her “smorgasbord of personalities” in a 1967 letter to a friend as an “alienated academic,” and an “involved pseudo-hippie”; who once returned a bottle of perfume after feeling guilty about the poverty around her — think of this shape-shifting, cynical Hillary?

She’s so at odds with who she used to be, even in the Senate, that if she were to get elected, who would voters be electing?

Obama is like her idealistic, somewhat naïve self before the world launched 1,000 attacks against her, turning her into the hard-bitten, driven politician who has launched 1,000 attacks against Obama.

As she makes a last frenzied and likely futile attempt to crush the butterfly, it’s as though she’s crushing the remnants of her own girlish innocence.

I don't know if the race is a lock for Obama, but Clinton's frenzied rear-guard (and back-office) defense actions look tacky as hell. They don't strike me as "scrappy" or "tenacious" -- they strike me as desperate.

The capper for me came this morning when I caught a brief CNN interview with spokespeople for both candidates. Clinton's, Howard Wolfson, was presented with this fairly pointed question: If you work the numbers, even if you assume that Clinton wins the remaining primaries with a 65-35 margin (extremely unlikely), there is no way she can win the nomination. So why stay in the race?

I didn't work the numbers, but from Wolfson's response -- effectively, "We can still win! People continue to vote for her!" -- I gather they're not in dispute. What really turned me off, though, was Wolfson's slightly more precise justification for staying in the race. I can find neither video nor transcript at the CNN site, but in general it went something like this:

Another reason for the Democratic Party to select Senator Clinton is all the polls showing that Obama voters are more likely to vote for Clinton than vice-versa. Clinton supporters are very loyal.

"Loyal" my sweet patootie. If Clinton supporters wouldn't vote for Obama in a general election, either by not voting at all or voting for McCain, they're not "loyal." They're clinically nuts.

Update, 2008-05-08: The Times's Nicholas Kristof covers this issue today, in a column headlined "The Too-Long Goodbye":

The most terrifying numbers for Democrats in Tuesday’s exit polls should be those showing how many of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters are planning to vote for Mr. McCain in November.

In Indiana, only 49 percent of Clinton voters said they would cast votes for Mr. Obama in November if he were the nominee; in North Carolina, the figure was 47 percent. In both states, a majority of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters said that they would either vote for Mr. McCain or stay home.

Like I said: nuts. And to the extent that the Senator from New York doesn't disavow this kind of talk from her supporters, she's the biggest nut of all.

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