If you were up in the wee hours today with the television news on you wouldn’t have been far off the mark thinking that the towering columns of smoke and flame you were seeing were coming from DNC headquarters rather than Universal Studios. There’s a grudging acceptance of yesterday’s developments and the seeming inevitability of the end of Hillary’s campaign, but the principals aren’t going down without pulling the pin and hurling every rhetorical grenade in their rucksack, and the die-hard supporters are even more entrenched and vitriolic.
All morning long, there were choking, caustic, and festering projectiles of ugly belching forth from every vent and fissure of the Democratic Party and, almost as advertised, nary a soul in the Clinton camp was happy with the results of yesterday meeting of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, that gave Hillary Clinton a few dozen fewer delegates than she asked for on her most covetous if unrealistic Santa list that still would have left her eight country miles away from the nomination. The repetition of the talking points was so vehement, persistent, and practically hypnotic that by end of the day if you were tired or let your guard down you would have believed that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.
It was my own bad for immersing myself in the imbroglio, but on and on it went, with Clinton surrogates Terry McAuliffe, Harold Ickes, Howard Wolfson, and Mandy Grunwald making the rounds on the Sunday shows and insisting in an endless loop:
1) Obama voluntarily took himself off the ballot in Michigan.
2) Hillary has received more popular votes than any Presidential candidate in history.
3) Unity was not served yesterday by Obama taking four delegates away from Hillary.
4) Hillary can in win in more swing states than Obama evidenced by the swing states where she has beaten Obama.
5) We will appeal to the remaining superdelegates to encourage them to back the more-electable candidate.
This is all magnificent spin on the part of the Clinton campaign, and I do marvel at their fortitude and steadfast refusal to accept the holy water and last rites.
1) “Obama voluntarily took himself off the ballot in Michigan.” Hillary and Barack agreed to the DNC penalization of Michigan. Every candidate except Christopher Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and Hillary Clinton took their names off the ballot, yet Hillary told NPR in October, “This election in Michigan will not count for anything.” And they didn’t, until Hillary needed those delegates to win the nomination, at which point she began invoking Zimbabwe and Florida 2000 and voter disenfranchisement.
2) “Hillary has received more popular votes than any Presidential candidate in history.” Team Hillary is counting all of the votes Hillary specifically received in Michigan and none that went to “uncommitted” which may or may not have gone to Obama–admittedly, an impossible number to assign to Obama, but his name was not on the ballot and her assumption is that none of those votes would have gone to Obama, even though Michigan Congressman John Conyers was supporting ads encouraging Democrats to cast their “uncommitted” vote for Obama–and they’ve discounted the non-binding primaries in the caucus states of Washington, Idaho, and Nebraska.
3) “Unity was not served yesterday by Obama taking four delegates away from Hillary.” Well, she’s kind of got him on that one. Donna Brazile’s contention that this was an olive branch to the Clinton campaign that they didn’t accept after Obama gallantly refused the 50-50 compromise that he had the votes to win is just a bit disingenuous. If he really wanted to be so magnanimous, he should have pushed for the compromise–that the Clinton campaign was willing to accept–that the uncommiteds would go to Obama only if the candidates who did take their names off the ticket agreed that the delegates representing the uncommiteds should go to Obama. He shouldn’t have received the additional four delegates that should have gone to Hillary. That said, this is a divorcing couple arguing over the Air Supply cassettes and the beanbag chair that’s been sitting in the garage for the last ten years. It’s all about “fuck you” rights. Those four delegates don’t mean boo in the grand equation of the nomination, but if Barack is asking for those four, there isn’t a chance in hell that Hillary would willfully surrender them, regardless of the futility of such a stand. On this, I don’t blame her, though. Give her the goddamned delegates.
4) “Hillary can in win in more swing states than Obama evidenced by the swing states where she has beaten Obama.” Weak. That’s a bold assumption that everyone who voted for Hillary in these states in the primary won’t vote for Obama in the general election. Poll ten people on whether they would prefer chocolate ice cream or vanilla. If six choose chocolate and four pick vanilla, the six who chose chocolate aren’t going to abstain from ice cream when their choices are only vanilla and rutubaga. It may not be their favorite, but they’ll take the vanilla.
5) “We will appeal to the remaining superdelegates to encourage them to back the more-electable candidate.” A brave last stand. And one you will lose by noon on Wednesday. By the latest credible estimate, from NBC and the Huffington Post–though the estimates are all over the map–there are 203 uncommitted superdelegates, and Hillary needs something in the neighborhood of 195. In the campaign of 41 year-old men, I’m not the worst one in the lot, but I’m not the best either. No matter how much I’ve given it my all, I appreciate my limitations, and I’m willing to accept where I lose.
It was far uglier down the line amongst Hillary’s hardcore supporters. I spent a few hours today going through the comments section of politico.com, ABC News’ blog, and a number of other sites, and the tenor and passion of all of them have me wondering what Obama’s role was in 9/11. I had to Google it, but I ran across repeated references to Obama as “Soetero,” which was the last name of Barack Obama’s Indonesian step-father, Lolo Soetero, who allegedly was responsible for enrolling his stepson as “Barry Soetero” in a madrasah. The repeated “aka ‘Soetero’” allusions, of course, are intended to suggest that Barack Hussein Obama would give aid and comfort to our enemies and that he’s some kind of Manchurian Candidate who’s going to have all of Hillary’s supporters in burkhas within six months of his inauguration. And these are supposedly good Democrats.
We have two more contests remaining, in South Dakota and Montana, and then we’ll start to see if there’s any chance at party unity. Hillary’s war isn’t over, though, and we’ll see if she signs the armistice on Obama’s battleship, or if we’re going find her down the road holed up in the caves of Iwo Jima fighting a battle that’s long since been over.