Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How Does Hillary Exit?

I know this question will enrage some Clinton supporters, but the problem for them is that she will not win the nomination minus an Obama implosion and that is highly unlikely. Give me a ration of crap about this if she gets the nomination. The question that exists is how does she exit? This actually matters.

There is a hardness in Hillary voters that exists and some of it will not go away by November if things stand as they do. Hillary has a lot of options, but how they play out narrows them considerably. She could take the hard core course and take this to the Convention kicking and screaming all the way and attempt to deadlock the Convention. She could make a case about the nomination either being hers or it is stolen from her. This course would guarantee that a large number of her supporters would not support Obama in the General. Obama's vote plus some of Hillary's would not equal a win over McCain, anything that promotes that result has outcomes pretty negative to Democratic Party goals. There are a number of scenarios that have that outcome beyond a floor fight at the Convention.

The rhetoric of the Clinton campaign and its surrogates can have that result. While Ferarro is not an official of the campaign her rhetoric carried by that campaign would have the same effects of hardening Hillary supporters. Hinting or outright stating that sexism or Florida and Michigan resulted in the theft of the nomination will freeze those supporters against Obama. Continued insistence that only she is ready to lead the nation may well once again lead to the freezing of supporters by devaluing her competitor. Hillary stated the she is best positioned to win the General moments ago in her Kentucky victory speech as Obama sewed up the majority of pledged delegates in the official DNC count and used the fictional 2210 number which exists only within her campaign. As the official DNC rules as of this moment (the only rules that count) the number of delegates apportioned FL/MI is zero. The Rules and Bylaws Committee will find something to do with Florida and Michigan delegates but it will not be her numbers and Obama will still win the nomination so she is angling for something.

It has been supposed that Hillary is trying to position for 2012 after an Obama loss in 2008. While she might like that, the idea that she is attempting to sabotage Obama deliberately is a non-starter. If that became at all obvious the Democratic Party would turn on her like a pack of wolves and there is no way to conduct such an operation that would not be obvious rather quickly. Her strategy cannot be to actively undercut Obama in the General Election.

It has been proposed that she is angling for the Vice Presidency, the chances of it happening is small. Whether she might accept or not, the offer is unlikely and efforts to force it are less likely to succeed. The reasons for it not being offered are varied, and could start with personal antipathy after this Primary. The most compelling reason not to offer it, is the message of Obama regarding a new politics and a disconnect from the special interests being damaged by her presence.

In the end, Hillary is going to lose, she knows it, and she must have something left afterward. There is a large campaign debt, there is a debt owed her supporters and voters, and there is a matter of her power within the Democratic Party. People who have voted for or sent money to Senator Clinton deserve to have the contest played out, that is not really a question to me, the question is how it is played out.

Senator Clinton can scarcely finish the campaign by lauding Obama across the board, that is not a campaign, it is an independent advertising effort. She has to be a candidate, the method of being a candidate is the crux. It is possible that the resolution of Florida and Michigan hinges on how the Clinton campaign is waged and that may tell much. It would be bad for Hillary to put the super delegates in the position of smacking her after June 3. That would harden the anti-Obama piece of Hillary's support. While the average voter may not take that into account in the future, the political junkies will and the professional politicians will. If Obama's future in November does, Hillary's future depends on her conduct over the next couple weeks. I sincerely hope she lives up to the people who have supported her.


Warren Terra said...

Your post is entirely reasonable, and entirely blind to the reality surrounding us. Clinton has made her decision, and it's in favor of Destruction of the Party. This is most evident in her campaign's dogged promotion of the "popular vote" argument this week.

This whole “popular vote” canard really gets to me. The thing is, it is only marginally a pro-Clinton argument. It’s primarily an avenue to defame Obama. The argument is, in its essence, that Obama’s delegate lead, though insurmountable, is illegitimate. That he’s somehow stolen the election. This, coupled with the invocation of sexism and glass ceilings, works to create enormous resentment, even hatred, of Obama among Clinton’s most fervent backers. And these narratives are coming straight from the top of the campaign.

The thing is, that anti-Obama sentiment really is the main effect of pushing these narratives. These arguments won’t convince the critical remaining unpledged superdelegates – the popular vote argument in particular is risible and insupportable, and the superdelegates are well-enough educated to know this, if only through the efforts of supporters of both candidates to inform and to sway them. They won’t convince many voters, because there aren’t many voters left and because this sort of precedural argument seems to have little effect on voters, especially this year.

But the core supporters eat this stuff up and kindle a core of rage around it. The popular vote argument, with the full encouragement of Clinton staffers right up to the Senator herself in her Kentucky victory speech, gets analogized to the 2000 General Election and Florida situations. That sort of comparison is tremendously incendiary; not many partisan Democrats have forgotten or forgiven those events. Two of the half-dozen people closest to Clinton behind her as she gave her Kentucky speech held handmade signs saying “Count Every Vote”. That sort of visual, including the Democratic slogan of Florida 2000, does not occur by happenstance in a modern major campaign event.

At this point in the campaign, with so little chance of her securing the nomination, the Clinton campaign is choosing to press its case in ways that amplify the divisions within the party and that could create enduring bitterness and sow sabotage for November. Deliberately. The situation should be called for what it is.

Bpaul said...

Hillary strikes me, and has since the beginning, as absolutely blind for want of power. That is why I couldn't support her even early on.

This noise about the popular vote and holding up the "count every vote" signs in blatant reminiscence of Dreaded Florida just pisses me right off. It smacks of Psy-Ops bullsh*t.

By Psy-Ops, I'm not talking conspiracy theory hooplaw, I mean by the book "PR moves" (read: propaganda) -- the likes of which had a good majority of people in the U.S. thinking Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 or Muslim Terrorists. Something patently untrue, but juxtaposed right and often enough, with enough latent emotion floating around amongst the people, it can be stitched together as seeming true.

A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

This stuff makes me sick.


Zak J. said...

I agree with the posts above. the whole attempt to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations by claiming the voters were disenfranchised is perhaps the single worst thing she has yet tried. It is so obviously deceitful and self-serving it boggles the mind that her supporters do not turn on her for it.

But they have proven to be subject to her manipulations for some time--I think a primary motivation for Clinton staying in at this point is to bilk her supporters out of more of their hard-earned donations to cover Clinton's own $20 million dollar debt--most of which seems to have been wracked up in the past couple months when the outcome has already been clear. I heard speculation on the radio today about a "settlement" between the Clinton and Obama campaigns maybe involving Obama helping her pay off her debts!!! Wouldn't that be something? She agrees to support his bid to win only if he siphons off money he could use to fight McCain in order to clear up her debts she accumulated to attack and undermine him!

I truly and honestly do not understand at all how anyone cannot see through Clinton at this point and how they cannot blame her for her self-destructive trip down ego lane, which has been all she has accomplished the last couple of months. She is at this point simply maddening in her refusal forward her (stated) political goals by working for the good of the party instead of the glory of herself.

Bpaul said...

"But they have proven to be subject to her manipulations for some time--I think a primary motivation for Clinton staying in at this point is to bilk her supporters out of more of their hard-earned donations to cover Clinton's own $20 million dollar debt"

Wow -- very good point. I hadn't even thought of that.

Chuck Butcher said...

Some of you have read me for some time and know that I don't particularly like Hillary (ok, not at all). But there is this piece of the puzzle that you walk away from at risk, her supporters backed a campaign that was legitimate and by percentages a close race and they do deserve at this point to have it played out and Hillary deserves to try to retire some of that debt.

The popular vote mantra is inexcusable, it is an example of the kind of short term thinking that has undone her repeatedly. As you have noted, it plays to the hardening of positions and that long term is bad, as an excuse to keep going at this point it kind of works and it keeps money coming in as a "hope." Yes, the super delegates absolutely do know that it is hokum of the most basic sort and involves cherry picking of the most blatant sort, the supporters don't KNOW that. They have heard it, but they don't know it, the super delegates are mysterious magical creatures...

This is why I was trying to break this down into pieces. This does need to play out through the Primary votes, but it needs to play out in a non-destructive manner. It doesn't look as though it's going to. It is a huge question for Hillary, can she overcome her apparent inclinations to short term gain for long term gains? If the answer is no and there is November damage, she and Bill will be done in the Democratic Party.