Well, that cleared things up, didn’t it? The Clintons came back from the dead again, and this week can claim the mantle of change you can believe in.
Forget Pennsylvania, forget Indiana, forget Oregon. There’s June Blood on the horizon. We’re talking Puerto Rico and, if you believe whatever inside information former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell may or may not have, a June do-over for Michigan and Florida. Howard Dean is going to have to rent some XXXL testicles to keep his party from ending up like the Menendez Family, and so disillusioning the army of young voters that have finally come out this year that they either wind up spiking the stateside narcotics trade or joining a fringe religion setting up camp in a South American jungle.
Be careful what you wish for, indeed. We’re hurtling towards the closest thing we’ve had to a brokered convention since the Adlai Stevenson days. This is gold for the pundits, but a Denver Boot for party unity. Put another way, the party had best get their differences smoothed over and unite behind a nominee before August, or the Democratic Convention will be all about things to do in Denver when you’re dead.
Let’s just forget all this nonsense right now about Howard Dean being The Enforcer. He’s an erstwhile beer-drinking, stoner ski bum. He’s not going to do boo, and certainly not as long as Terry McAuliffe is one of the corner men. And he ended his 2004 Presidential bid on a note more embarassing than Michael Dukakis in the tank. The best he can hope for is encouraging some measure of party unity as they fight it out and try and keep the focus on the politically shape-shifting curmudgeon and his creepy Barbie doll wife, and not drop the ball in what should be the surest runaway touchdown since Gil Garcetti handed Marcia Clark the OJ case–and we all know how that ended.
We have ahead of us a battle like we’ve never seen in our lifetime, unless we were old enough to watch the 1976 GOP donnybrook in Kansas City (I was ten; all I remember from that campaign trail is hippies running around in Bicentennial powder wigs and Jimmy Carter. And Morris Udall, for some reason). That summer, President Gerald Ford came into the convention just short of the 1,130 delegates he needed to win the nomination. But for an ill-fated decision to announce that if nominated he would select Pennsylvania moderate Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate, Governor Ronald Reagan would have upended an incumbent President, and probably defeated Jimmy Carter that fall, which would have left an empty spot in the public memory where Billy Beer endures today.
We are living through history. And it’s a damned good thing that this is happening right now, what with football season over, because the NBA isn’t doing it for me this year and my Blazers are still at least a season away from contention. Whether this is going to be good for the Democrats in November remains to be seen. John McCain has a lot of time on his hands right now, and he’s probably not going to use it to paint the tool shed and clean out the garage. He does, however, have a lot of fences to mend (not the least of which is the one along the border, which many don’t trust him to do). And he has a lot of time to raise money and shadow box against his ideologically-identical opponents.
Unless you’re one of those people generally unfamiliar with the back of your own hand, it’s not going to come as any surprise that Team Hillary is busy carving any number of shivs that The Candidate can take back into the ring with Obama and hide in her boots and athletic supporter. If you thought the last week was ugly, you should probably go to bed early with the kids. This journey is now going to get very ugly as Mrs. Clinton leads the Democrats down the Rove less traveled, and teaches the tough-talking kid from South Chicago how they roll in Chappequa.
I wondered a few weeks back how negative Hillary would go in spite of what it would do to the party. Well, I think we know now. By the end of this mess, there will be darkrooms that have seen fewer negatives than this campaign. This is not about the party anymore. It’s not about the young voters who have been so energized by the juggernaut that is Barack. It’s not about preserving the Clinton Legacy by doing what’s right for the party. Those are all picayune concerns and secondary, even tertiary to the primary goal: A Team Clinton Victory By Any Means Necessary. It’s a shame, too. Not that she wouldn’t make an outstanding President. And not that the knives aren’t going to come out in the fall anyway. It’s just a shame that she’s going to eat much of her party’s young in the process and drive the rest away. But I guess at the end of the day that’s the problem with American Democracy: Like a Bradley Fighting Vehicle or a DeLorean, it’s a formidable beast and a thing to behold, but if it’s reliability and performance that you can believe in that you want, get a tank or a Honda instead.