Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Clinton's Last Charge?
Barack Obama has gone 10-0 in wins since Super Tuesday and most recently slam dunked on Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin Tuesday, a state she was supposed to have a chance at winning. She's tried to shake it off. But it was nothing but net for Obama.
So now what?
I'll be highly surprised if Hillary phones it in the next couple of races then bows out. She's racked up over a thousand delegates (depending on who's doing the counting) and I don't think she will cede them without going down in flames, or at least melting into a puddle after you douse her in water while she screams, "Oh, what a world!"
And the TV pundits are ablaze with Clinton schadenfreude-laced glee today. I don't enjoy it considering that when the Wicked Witch of New York by the Way of Little Rock is gone they'll start tearing into my guy out of boredom. The pundits all agree Hillary will finally shrug her shoulders and say "fuck it" on the passive aggressive anger and move to full-on, balls-to-walls, aggressive-aggressive anger by going "negative" on Obama.
The veritable "nuclear option" of mutually assured Democratic Party destruction that has so far been avoided on both sides.
I don't see that working at all. But she doesn't really have a choice. She's a political warrior. She's not going to pack her bags and just go. This has turned in the Akira Kurosawa samurai yarn of political battles (or the Italian mob movie or western. This battle is a classic Greek motif). This is a fight of youth, vigor and beauty against the status quo. For the Clintons, this is going to be the Banzai charge of political campaigns, Hillary's own version of Pickett's charge (I'm mixing genres and metaphors here, but stick with me) as she leads adviser Mark Penn, her husband and the rest of her minions to run into the direct gunfire of the opposition.
See, Mike Huckabee keeps talking about his quixotic, Don Quixote-esque fantasy of taking the Republican nomination from John McCain out of pluck and pure heart. Right now on CNN he's comparing himself to the Alamo, which I guess is OK considering the Alamo was lost because the Texian army had been unsuccessful in rounding up some help. But the reality is he's not even the Alamo. Which at least had cannons and some bullets. He's fighting windmills singing "Dream the impossible dream." That's very different from what Hillary has to do - sack it up and go down fighting.
Huckabee has nothing to lose because he never had anything to begin with. For Hillary, she knows with certainty that the Democratic nomination would have been hers if Obama hadn't shown up, much like how the Japanese would have won the South Pacific handily if the US hadn't jumped into the fray after Pearl Harbor. Or how Confederate General Robert E. Lee might have won the battle of Gettysburg if the rebels had taken out the north's artillery better before having their men charge a hill to their deaths.
The point is, this is an "epic" (in a political sense) battle between two opponents where at one point one was much stronger and more powerful than the other, then the power shifted and now the once weaker of the two is on equal footing and ascending. Proud political warriors who love to win and are loathe to lose would rather get beat knowing they did all they could to win, rather than give up and wonder what could have been. She wants to go out with honor. She wants to take it at least to Ohio and Texas, or even to the convention if Howard Dean can't talk her down from the ledge. She won't stop until one of them has amassed the 2,025 delegates they need to win the nomination. She will cede not one delegate until she has to.
Now politics are not a Banzai charge or the Alamo or the battle of Gettysburg. It's not even "The Godfather," although this race does reminds me of the Godfather Part II with Barack Obama as Al Pacino kissing the cheek of Hillary saying, "I knew it was you," then later killing her in a boat.
No, all those situations were life or death situations. In Hillary Clinton's Banzai Pickett's Charge of the Alamo with Fredo Corleone the only thing that will die is a dream. She has to go down fighting because I don't think Hillary will run again. This year was her best shot. George W. Bush had weakened the presidency to such a point that the nation was solvent to accept anyone, especially outside of the status quo, as their savior from nearly eight years of incompetence. If she falls now, the only way she'll come back is if McCain wins.
Turning 72 this year, McCain would be 76 after his first term. Many speculate that he may not be a two-term president for this reason alone. And if goes with the "Four More Wars" platform he's been shilling, the Democrats might gain even more ground to mount another charge for the White House. Hillary, naturally, would want to lead that charge (unless Edwards decides to go "third times a charm." But even in that scenario she'd comeback.)
But if Barack Obama wins the White House it is unlikely that she would challenge him in the second term because of the pressure within the party to allow Obama a chance to retain the White House. So that means Hillary is waiting eight years to run again if Obama is a two term president. And in eight years she'll be 68 years old. Not too old to run for president again, but the same energy that was supposed to catapult her to the top this year will be behind Obama's Vice President or another Democrat who has caught the eye of the Republic. Her time will have officially passed. She will resign herself to being the senator from New York, a great achievement for a former First Lady, but a far, far fall form being President.
Then maybe she'll come out of her house once in a while to sing "Dream the Impossible Dream" with Huckabee for the fun of it.
But probably not.