Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Pennsylvania

Well, that solved nothing.

Okay, so Hillary can sling mud for six weeks and win a primary. So what? While neither she nor Barack are likely to secure enough delegates for a clean nomination at the Denver DNC convention, she will continue to trail in delegates, popular vote, or any other measure of voter preference. In other words, Clinton's only potential to secure the nomination can come from sabotaging or usurping the candidate carrying more votes.

Suppose for a moment that Clinton is in fact "more electable" in a general campaign, that she is better equipped to fend off Republican attacks, and that she is a "better leader." Suppose she is able to weasel her way into the nomination. How can such an ill-gotten victory not become a Pyrrhic victory? Will not the perceived illegitimacy of her path to the nomination drive away the party enthusiasts needed to work the general election campaign efforts? Will it not validate right-wing aspersions that paint the Clintons' as duplicitous, driving away middle ground independent voters?

Will she still be so electable? Could she still draw enough votes to win? Will she, after this incredibly expensive game of primary chicken she is forcing, be able to marshal sufficient resources from the other half of the party base--you know, the donors who funded Obama's campaign, the guy who got more primary votes--to mount a successful general election campaign?

If not, then we're fucked. Because she has forced this game of chicken with Barack Obama and now won PA, there is no way for her to back to down while saving face. Either she will get the nomination and lose, or Obama will get the nomination with Clinton inflicting on him death by a thousand cuts and sapping his resources. Meanwhile, McCain--who really is a woefully weak candidate (why else would she risk splintering the party for the chance to contest against him?)--will be allowed to escape unscathed (with Clinton's apparent blessing) and skate right into the Whitehouse come November.

How is this good for the party? How is this good for democracy? For the country?

Wait a minute, I get it! Hillary Clinton really does hate America. It all makes sense now! Why else would she be working so hard to plague us with McCain as the next president?

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo, one of my favorite blogs-cum-investigative journalism sites, debunks the myth that PA shows Clinton is more electable. The key point stressed, that we should all remember, is that the results DO NOT show that Obama can't win white working class votes, only that Clinton attracts them more than Obama. To assess electability, the real question is how each one matches individually against McCain. Here the news is good for Dems, if not better for Obama than Clinton--according to TPM's analysis of recent state polling data. Have a watch:

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