Thursday, February 14, 2008
Hillary Clinton is not Hubert Humphrey, and 2008 is not 1968.
Or is she? And is it?
An article about the Democratic Party's presidential primary delegate count in the "New York Times," makes clear that Sen. Barack Obama's lead in that category will be tough for Hillary's campaign to erase. And that is mostly because where he has won, it has been a trouncing of 20 percentage points or more and pulled the lion's share of delegates.
Whereas, her much trumpeted, but slim, victories in places like New Hampshire and Nevada resulted in an equal take for both candidates.
As such, the article reads, "Mrs. Clinton's advisers also made it clear that they were prepared to take a number of potentially incendiary steps to build up Mrs. Clinton's count. Top among these, her aides said, is pressing Democrats to seat the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan, who held their primaries in January in defiance of Democratic Party rules."
Which, we dare say, smacks of desperation and somewhat beneath a candidate promising a break from the old ways of doing politics.
Julian Bond, president, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has asked the party's Chair Howard Dean to do as she wishes or risk disenfranchising minority voters.
That's going to be a tough sell because the guy with everything to lose, let's emphasize everything (again), is, well, an African-American who is pulling in millions of other African-Americans as supporters.
On another, equally undemocratic, front Sen. Clinton would be happy to take the nomination from the actual vote winner by currying favor with party functionaries known as "superdelegates," which you've all read much about.
She must do this because she is, what's the word here? Losing.
Another article in the same edition of the "New York Times," explains how Ms. Clinton's wins in New Hampshire, California, and New Jersey broke the bank and left the campaign "flat-footed."
With all the talk about Texas and Ohio being friendlier territory for the New York senator, scribes Patrick Healy and Katharine Seelye ask, "So why is she just opening campaign field offices across those states?"
After being told there were insufficient funds to bankroll a mailer he wanted to send in support of Clinton, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) had a fair answer: "It sure didn't look like they had a game plan after Super Tuesday."
But Obama did.
Here's an article from the "L.A. Times," detailing how his claims of a true "bottom up" movement aren't mere pap. How by simply clicking here, millions of small donors have been dropping $10 or $20 into his kitty as things roll along, whereas Clinton's larger contributors have already hit the cap on giving.
All of which has paid dividends in states like Virginia and Maryland where the "Washington Post" said Obama, "showed his campaign's success in turning out voters and broadening his formidable coalition of supporters in the week since Super Tuesday."
The article observes that 400,000 more people came to the polls than expected in the Old Dominion. And we know who they came for because we know who won Virginia.
The Illinois senator, it reported, was the first candidate from either party to get on the ballot in that state with signatures gathered by volunteers that other campaigns paid people to round up.
Larry Byrne, a Clinton adviser in Virginia, told Tim Craig and Bill Turque, "I don't know how you look at it other than to say, he did an amazing job of getting people organized."
Of course, anyone who has read "Dreams of My Father," knows that "community organizer" in Chicago was Obama's first job, and he is showing the "substance" of his remarkable candidacy by running rings around a vaunted political machine.
It was the same in Washington D.C. where Clinton supporter and Democratic ward heeler Thomas Smith said, "Frankly, what I really think is that the Clinton strategy was really wrong."
The Clinton team, "assembled a who's who of supporters - five seated D.C. council members, at least five former council members and a host of the city's Democratic elite - to endorse her or work on her steering committee, Smith said."
Which explains the Clintons' emphasis on superdelegates or, in other words, their friends in the Democratic Party.
In an e-mail sent out on Tuesday, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), said Obama's sweep, "blew me away: in Barack's victory in Virginia last night, he won 142,000 more votes than all of the Republicans combined, and his victory margin over Senator Clinton was larger than McCain's entire vote total."
Which brings us to our point here.
If Sen. Clinton loses to Mr. Obama in total popular vote and delegates, and then moves to sway superdelegates into contravening the will of party voters, while simultaneously seeking to seat delegates nobody truly campaigned for, there will be hell to pay.
The uproar among this veritable tidal wave of enthusiastic and often new voters will be tough to ignore, and Hillary will neither be able to portray herself as an agent of change, nor count upon the party to coalesce around her once the nomination is stolen, er, secured.
This is not 1968, when a brokered convention put a booby-prize of Hubert Humphrey on the ballot while the cops smashed Sen. Gene McCarthy's campaign headquarters to smithereens, and clubbed protestors in the streets of Chicago.
But it could be.