Why Hillary Can’t Win

Karen Tumulty from Time in this piece lays out three scenarios for the Democratic Primary.

1)Obama wins NC and Indiana, superd’s flock to him, Clinton is forced out (or into irrelevance as Obama begins his general election campaign.  The Huckabee-ization of the Clinton campaign in other words).

2)Party leaders end it June. 

All the contests take place, the superdelegates are forced by Dean, Pelosi, and Reid to make up their minds.  No chance Obama loses in this scenario–a forced unity ticket with her on the bottom perhaps, but scenario two is also an Obama win (more on why in a sec). 

3)A Brokered Convention delegate floor fight.    This is the only scenario in which Clinton can win the Democratic nomination. 

But a brokered convention means a loss for the Democrats against McCain period.   With only two months after a convention, McCain will be able to run a biography election, which he will win.

So she can only win the Democratic Primary through the convention, but winning through the convention guarantees (I maintain) a loss in the General.  She can’t run in the General without winning the nomination obviously.  So….up proverbial river sans paddle. 

And in this interview (h/t Tumulty) Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC)–undeclared at this point, highest ranking African American in the House–says the following:

Mr. Clyburn added that there appeared to be an almost “unanimous” view among African-Americans that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were “committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Obama to a point that he could never win.”

Whether that is “true” or not the perception is real and will be what becomes the reality if and when Clinton gets the nomination.

This is why all these polls showing Clinton say beating McCain in Pennsylvania are suspect in my mind.  The Hillary Clinton of 2007, party frontrunner and “inevitable” candidate would I think have been the odds on favorite to beat McCain.  Even the Clinton now running against Obama and McCain could win that state theoretically. 

Hillary Clinton the damaged goods from having had that shine rubbed off in this primary would I don’t think beat McCain.  Here’s why:  the only way she can get the nomination is to make real the feeling of the African American community:  take Obama down.  This is Chait again–she is on a kamikazee mission, which would not only Kill Obama but her own chances as well. 

The Hillary Clinton in other words who would actually be the nominee–only after a vicious convention and seen by large segments as having stolen the election from the guy with more popular vote, more delegates, more states won–she can not win.  As even Howard Dean said today, it will tatke 2 months to heal the divisions caused in this fight.  Winning at the convention–which again IS HER ONLY CHANCE (and even then slim)–would not give the 2 months necessary to heal the wounds.  Nor following Clyburn would 2 months be sufficient for the Democratic African American community–that bridge seems already to have been burned irrevocably. 

Which circle back to this inescapable fact–in a brokered convention scenario the Democrats will lose in the General Election.  Hillary Clinton can not garner the nomination (minus a complete Obama uber gaffe + meltdown) except through a brokered convention.  Clinton is therefore like Socrates very mortal.

This facts explains why her “electability” shtick is schlock.  She lost the “math”, i.e. a fair fight, a long time ago (the Wisconsin primary to be exact), so now she could only win by going completely negative-way beyond the “kitchen sink” of Penn.  That Clinton will run her negatives through the roof and will lose to the “Back in the Centrist Saddle Again” John McCain.

For Obama to win however Clinton has to be shown a graceful exit post a major defeat.  If it were any other Democratic nominee, they would have been sent packing a long time ago, but 1)she’s a Clinton and Bill and her coterie of fundraisers have used their party influence to block that and 2)because she is the first serious woman candidate for the nomination (and president).  Handled without care, such an exit could alienate a slew of her suppoters. 

She has lost but she hasn’t been defeated.  In her mind Obama can not win in the general (whatever she says about “yes yes yes” she clearly thinks “no no no”) which condones whatever she does to him because he can’t win anyway, so in her mind she can’t destroy his chances–how do you kneecap a guy with no knees?, she thinketh. 


Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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