I've tried to give Hillary Clinton the benefit of the doubt throughout this election. Yes, she and her surrogates have done some things that I might classify as slimy. But I still tended to think that she was doing what she thought was best for the party and the country. At this point, I find that argument a tough one to make. Now it's about ego or something. I just can't figure it out.
As has been clear for nearly a month now, Clinton will not be able to overtake Obama's delegate lead unless she wins over the superdelegates in sufficient numbers to overturn the popular vote. The only way to do that, as Adam Nagourney writes for the New York Times, is to tear down Obama to the point where he's seen as unelectable. That's it. That's her big hope. And she's certainly being pretty audacious about pursuing it.
Now, there are several problems with this approach. First, is that it depends on the inherently undemocratic idea that the superdelegates (the Democratic Party elites) will overturn the popular will (the people who actually voted). This is troubling enough in itself. However, the plan goes further in that it requires her to basically destroy the man who's brought more new voters into the process than ever before. Indisputably, Obama has tapped a whole new electorate for the Democratic Party. I'm not saying that this entitles him to the nomination. If he were still to lose based on the votes, that's one thing. But a political kneecapping like this is very different. A candidate who wins the nomination following that game plan is one who will be entering the general election with a severely divided so-called base. This is not a winning strategy long-term.
And speaking of the general election, let's look at the implications there. At least part of the time, Clinton is campaigning as McCain. Saying things like she and McCain have passed their commander-in-chief test (whatever that means) is essentially ceding McCain his strongest point come the general election. Neither candidate is going to be able to beat McCain on experience. The only shot on that front is to say that he's experienced but wrong. Hillary, if she somehow becomes the nominee, has essentially given up the right to say that. Obama, will now have a tougher time making that point because Hillary said McCain is right. Doesn't anyone think beyond next week in this campaign?
And don't get me started on the message boards and blog posts saying Obama needs to drop out because he can't win and he's just hurting the party by dragging this thing out. Were he in Hillary's position, I would agree. But he's not. He's winning, in fact. The only one in Hillary's position is Hillary, and I couldn't agree more that the one who's losing needs to get out now before real damage gets done.
Obama has a chance to win the election and do real good for this country. Hillary's only chance to win the battle and the nomination will certainly lose her the war.