Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why is she still in?

It is essentially impossible for Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic nominee for president.

She is losing in every measure of success: pledged delegates, superdelegates, states won, and the overall popular vote. Her victory last night in West Virgina was considerable (something like 67% to 26%), but doesn't change any of those measures.

Moreover, the victory is also tainted racism and religious bigotry. Exit polls reflect that one in four Clinton voters reported that race was an important factor in the vote. Stories coming out of West Virginia just before the election told stories of voters who planned to vote for Clinton because they "heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist," or because they "want someone who is a full-blooded American." It's interesting that these voters didn't say they were voting for Clinton because of something they like about her, but because of the things they didn't like about Obama. But nonetheless, Clinton has been all to willing to ride that wave of prejudice, sending Bill to tell white audiences in West Virginia that she represents "people like you."

But not only does the West Virgina win not erase Obama's lead in every measure of success, it has also failed to even slow Obama's increasing lead in superdelegates---he picked up two more this morning.

There are only two ways it might happen: 1) The old angry white people of West Virginia somehow possess the voters in all the remaining primaries and give Clinton similar margins of victory, while simultaneously, there is a mass exodus of superdelegates from Obama to Clinton. 2) Clinton and a mass army of political lackeys somehow succeed in pressuring the delegates at the convention to ignore who they are pledged to vote for while simultaneously, Obama either disappears completely or has a massive breakdown and spends the rest of the campaign rocking in a fetal position. Basically, it's not going to happen.

And yet she keeps going, like a demented energizer bunny in a pantsuit. Like the little engine that (thought she) could she keeps chugging through coal country. And why? With Obama's increasing leads, it isn't bettering her chances; and it's also working evil on her family's image and reputation. Whereas Bill was once a celebrity among African-American Democrats, Clinton's race-baiting tactics in West Virginia has Chris Matthews calling her "the Al Sharpton of white people." And with apologies to the good Reverend, that isn't an honor.

So, again, why?

I can think of four possible reasons:

1) She wants to lock in the spot as VP. While Obama is usually cordial with Clinton in public, some have speculated that the rancor between their campaigns on the trail has foreclosed any possibility of a Clinton-Obama ticket. Others cite Michelle Obama's personal dislike for the pantsuited former first lady and argue that Michelle would veto Clinton as a running mate. Knowing that the odds are against her being VP, Clinton may be trying to force Obama's hand by trying proving that without her on the ticket, Obama can't win with old white Democrats.

2) She wants to massage her ego with a big win in West Virginia before she gets out for good. Maybe Clinton does realize that she won't win, but since she was so highly favored in West Virginia, she knew that it would give her the chance to go out in a blaze of glory rather than in the calumny of a streak of losses followed by a close Pennsylvania win and a marginal victory in Indiana.

3) She wants to keep fundraising. Clinton's campaign is running at least a 20 million dollar debt right now and she has had to led almost 12 million out of her own pocket just to keep it afloat. With a win in coal country, maybe she give some hope to old angry white people who want to see her win. That way she could convince more retirees to send in donations and make up some of the cash rather than eat the deficit herself. Getting on the ticket as VP would also solve this problem.

4) She wants McCain to win. If Obama wins, he'll be the presumptive nominee again the next time around and Clinton would have to wait eight years to try again. If McCain wins, Clinton will be able to turn around, thumb her nose at the rest of the party and say "I told you Obama wasn't electable! Next time you better listen to me!" Also, McCain is old. See, e.g., here. In four years, he'll be even older. If he wins, there is a decent chance that he might not run again. Even if he does run again, he'll be easier to pick off than a younger incumbent Obama. At 61, Clinton's no spring chicken herself, and a 69 or 70 year old Hillary Clinton would have a harder row to hoe than a 65 year old Hillary Clinton.

So what do you think? Which explanation is more plausible? What other explanations have I overlooked?


The Shark said...

Oooo... I think your last point makes the most sense. I'm obviously no political genius, but there's so much stategery even in the primaries -- it's ridiculous.

apyknowzitall said...

I honestly think it's a combination of #3 and #4. As much as I would like to think she's just stubborn or would have an ounce of class and bow out gracefully, she doesn't and we all know there's a reason behind each one of her political moves. I just wish this reason was as clear as her running for NY senate.

Cabeza said...

She's not anymore, JKC. She's not.