The Democratic primary is over. Hillary Clinton might still run in West Virginia and Kentucky, which she’ll win handily, but by failing to win Indiana decisively and by losing North Carolina decisively, she lost the argument for her own candidacy. She can’t surpass Barack Obama’s delegate or popular vote count. The question is no longer who will be the Democratic nominee, but whether Obama can defeat Republican John McCain in November. And the answer to that is still unclear.
During the last two months, Obama has faltered as a candidate. He has seen his political base narrow rather than widen, and some of his strengths turn into weaknesses. Of course, he has had to deal with the scandal surrounding Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but even so, he needs to remedy certain flaws in his political approach if he wants to defeat McCain in the fall. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — Judis continues a spurious line of argument that the media has pushed throughout this primary: that there is some form of equivalence between a contest between Obama and Clinton and between Obama and McCain — as though there is no inherent difference between a primary and the general election. But of course there is.
Let’s just take one of what Judis lists as Obama’s “flaws” – lack of forcefulness.
As much as Obama has said he has never taken getting the nomination for granted, unlike his opponent he has campaigned with an eye to winning the support of her supporters. He hopes that hardcore Clinton supporters can become willing Obama voters. Hillary’s forcefulness on the other hand — the fighting spirit that the media has become so enamored with in recent weeks — has been applied without the slightest consideration about how she would repair the damage if, against all odds, she was to win the nomination. Her willingness to trample on her opponent might have created the perception that she’s tough, but what she has really displayed is a form of political recklessness that veers towards being self-destructive.
Instead of talking about forcefulness — something that can amount to nothing more than political theater — what really counts is steel and determination: an unwavering focus not only on winning the election but on what comes after that. By this measure Obama has already demonstrated that he’s made of the right stuff and perfectly capable of standing up against a fumbling McCain.
A friend who’s been a long-time Clinton supporter argues that, if only I’d take the time to know Hillary better, I’d support her. Exactly wrong: the more I’ve come to know her, the more I oppose her. The more ersatz testosterone she exudes, the more willing I am to believe her determination is to win absolutely regardless. There’s talk of a Clinton “nuclear option” — by which the pundits mean forcing a vote to include the Michigan and Florida results. Maybe so. My vision of a Clinton “nuclear option” is hammering Obama so hard that McCain wins in November, setting Hillary up for a 2012 comeback. Bizarre? Of course. Credible? For me, anyway, it is.
Rather than see this as a cool calculation to destroy Obama in order to be able to run in 2012, I’m more inclined to see Hillary and Bill being driven by the gamblers’ compulsion — an addiction to winning makes it just too difficult to recognize when it’s time to cut your losses. They regard the $109 million they accrued over the last few years as winnings, so if they end up broke they’re back to where they started. There’s little evidence that there’s a big picture here — and that’s the problem.
Paul: I agree that the Clintons are big rollers, no doubt compulsively so. (Bill: “Watch my jesuitical footwork; I bet I can dance my way out of this one.” Hillary: “I’m tough and at the same time cute; I bet everyone will love my image.”) So let me parse my paranoia a bit. It’s not a “cool calculation;” it may not be, in the conscious sense, a calculation at all. The professional gambler senses the flow of the game. The compulsive gambler can see only the jackpot, and keeps on, believing, in the words of the old radio comedian, Jim Jordan (Fibber McGee), “the longer you don’t win, the sooner you gotta.”