Saturday, April 26, 2008

Turning Things Around

Amid a mass of bad sports analogies, the networks have all decided that a) Clinton is turning things around because b) Obama can’t “close the deal”, and yet c) Obama can’t really lose. So what is really happening here?
First, the bad sports analogies department: this has been likened to a tennis match where Obama gets to match point (NH, OH, PA) and just can’t put her away, revealing a fatal weakness in his candidacy. Boy, talk about missing the big picture, tennis analogy-wise. What we have is a three set match where they split the first two (IA, NH, SC, Super Tuesday) and then Obama got s service break in the third, with his run of victories in February, which gave him a clear lead. What Obama has failed to do is break her again, but she hasn’t broken back and we seem to be at 5-4 with him serving in North Carolina. A decisive win there and this is over. Well, in the sports analogy sense and the theoretical sense. It ain’t over until the votes are cast at the convention and the Clintons are not going away. They will fight until the last vote, using Michigan and Florida as their ultimate weapons to keep things going until the convention.
Does it matter? Can she win? The expert analysis seems to be in three similar camps:
1) She’s a long shot, but if she can win Indiana, keep NC close, then win big in Kentucky and West Virginia, her momentum (and his slide) could turn things around. Many people have doubts, but the super delegates just might consider her the better choice.
2) It’s over, Obama will be the nominee, the Clintons refuse to accept the reality. They can fight as long and hard as they want, Obama will win NC, wiping out most of her delegate and popular vote gains from PA and he will have wrapped up the delegate lead and popular vote heading for the convention and the super D’s will fall in line very quickly to end the bloodshed.
3) Even the Clintons know it’s over, the campaign is designed to destroy Obama, with Hillary really aiming at 2012. This is the theory James Clyburn espoused this week and there is some merit to it, although the Clintons probably still think they have a chance at victory, the destruction of Obama’s chances are the one thing they know they can do. After all, it’s one thing for Republicans to attack Obama with partisan ads, it’s quite another to pepper those ads with quotes from HRC and Bill, both attacking Obama and praising McCain.

I tend to lean toward number 3, but I also think there’s a fourth scenario which no one is talking about. The first thing is to keep this going as long as possible, the PA victory was big for that, bringing in money and some campaign credibility. A decent showing in NC combined with a win in Indiana and the stage is set. Let’s call this the “deus ex machina” route to the nomination – an external event makes her the obvious candidate to everyone. In a saner world, her astounding pledge in the PA debate to use our defense umbrella to respond to any attack by Iran on Israel, Saudi Arabia, or any other friendly nation in that region would have been a huge story. In our silly society, it passed by quietly. Obama gave a more reasoned, less militaristic response. Combine that with her vote on the Lieberman-Kyl amendment and you have the warrior Hillary, set to pounce on Iran. The external event is a simple one -- we attack Iran. This week saw a string of accusations, not just from the Bush administration, but from assorted military leaders, regarding Iran’s attempt to destabilize Iraq militarily. The groundwork is being laid. We know McCain is on board, and Hillary has given notice that she is ready to fight as well. When the bombs fly, Obama will be left in a terribly awkward position and HRC will emerge as the only one ready to take on McCain in the battle for Commander In Chief. This isn’t over by a long shot.

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