Dear Hillary: What, Pray Tell, Is It About?
She came, she saw and she fell still further behind.
The results of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries were pretty much preordained — a Barack Obama victory in the Tar Heel State by a large margin and a Hillary Clinton victory in the Hoosier State by a narrow margin. That the results were exactly that is a repudiation of Clinton’s latest and, by my count, fourth strategy in the last five months, this one to treat voters like idiots.
The results also should be Clinton’s final repudiation.
This, of course, is because it is mathematically impossible for Clinton to catch up to Obama in popular votes, pledged delegate votes, opinion-poll positives, contributions and endorsements. Obama will soon eclipse Clinton in superdelegate votes, as well, and has added 21 of the 32 who have jumped off the fence since the Bitter Small Town State primary on April 22.
Some 187 pledged delegates, nearly half of the 404 in the remaining primaries, were in play yesterday.
Obama will win a comfortable majority of those delegates, meaning that he needs about one-third of all remaining delegates to get to 2,025, the number needed to clinch the nomination. Clinton needs about two-thirds of all remaining delegates to just draw even with Obama.
Yet with 90 percent of the pledged delegates now chosen, Clinton is once again picking up those goal posts, slinging them onto her itty-bitty shoulders (come on, Rush, give the nice lady a hand and a few bucks!) and is slogging on. This is not for the good of party or the nation, as she would have us believe, but because she cannot face up to the reality that she squandered pretty much a sure thing by engaging in the kind of divisive and fear mongering politics of which change-thirsty Americans are so fricking sick and tired.
Meanwhile, Obama has determinedly if sometimes shakily stuck to the only strategy he has needed — staying on message, while Clinton has motored on to yet another new strategy.
There was the hubristic I’m The Incumbent Strategy that proved to be so shortsighted as Obama began nipping at her Miu Mius before the first primary vote was cast. Then there was the short-lived I’m A Policy Wonk Strategy after she “found” her voice following the New Hampshire primary. As Obama gained momentum, this was supplanted by the Race-Baiting Strategy, which also came a cropper because the idea that politics is a nasty business so people should vote for the nasty candidate just didn’t seem to resonate.
And now the Voters Are Idiots Strategy in which Clinton panders with a gas-tax holiday scheme that no economist will touch, emptily threatens to destroy OPEC, demands that the good burghers of Guam be given the right to vote although they aren’t U.S. citizens, and prattles that elitists are what ails America.
How desperate is Clinton? So desperate that the campaign strategist who replaced the late unlamented Mark Penn said the other day that it’s not about votes received or delegates pledged anymore.
“We don’t think this is just going to be about some numerical metric,” intoned a solemn Geoff Garin.
What then, pray tell, is it about?
A friend remarks that Hillary Clinton is Bill Clinton without the charm. True, but it’s not that simple. As someone who once enthusiastically supported her 1993 universal health-care plan but concluded that she was her own worst enemy, who enthused over and voted twice for her co-president, who also turned out to be his own worst enemy, I believe that what it is about is an inability to be honest with herself. Not exactly an admirable trait for someone desperate to spend the next eight years sleeping next to a red phone, if not next to Bubba.
I have harped ad nauseam this campaign season about how extraordinary it is that Hillary Clinton not only gave her philandering husband a free pass but spearheaded his defense. (The press, of course, has given her a free pass on the issue, as well.) Who did not come under sniper fire in Bosnia but believed that she had until confronted with a video tape of her unremarkable arrival there. Who knew that the gas-tax holiday was a lousy idea but having blurted it out doubled down and wouldn’t retreat. Who misrepresents the facts and then acts deeply offended when confronted with the record.
I am not a psychiatrist nor do I play one on TV. But I believe that Clinton’s inability to be honest with herself is because she has never figured out who that self is.
Or perhaps she decided that mastering the macho man art of American politics — as opposed to championing a better kind of politics — was good enough. History will show that this was an arrogant miscalculation, and in the end she even managed to crap all over the Clinton legacy of attracting blacks not because Barack was blacker than Bill but because she and her husband were revealed to be cynical frauds.
Hillary Clinton gets some slack as a woman who spent years banging her head against the glass ceiling while grappling with the demands of motherhood. But once she made the decision to run for the Senate and then president instead of going home to Chappaqua, she owed it to us to get a grip on who the heck she is and what the heck she stands for.
That Hillary Clinton has not figured out either — and has repeatedly changed her tune as a chameleon changes its colors to stay alive — is not only unpresidential, it is very sad.