April 23, 2008

Armegeddon in Denver

Clinton's win in Pennsylvania has now set the stage for the Clinton end game to wrench from Obama's grasp the Democratic nomination, despite a lead in pledged delegates, popular vote, states won and money raised. Absent a brilliant political move by Obama on the level of his race speech (I don't put it past him, he's a brilliant politician) I don't see him avoiding this fate. His race is a political impediment now and becomes moreso with each day. Clinton is pressing themes that use the dissonance of his racial heritage in the minds of white voters to add potency to her argument that he is not electable.

Clinton will not concede, nor will the supers force her out, and the fact that they will not and have not is proof positive that her strategy is working. She does not have to get their endorsement now to win. She merely has to deny Obama their endorsement and keep them on the sidelines, delaying their public commitment. Her very presence as a continuing candidate after the end of the primaries in June implicitly calls his electability into question. To win now, Obama must strike a mortal blow somewhere in these remaining contests and damage her so badly that her campaign collapses. He's playing the resource card to full effect, stressing and straining her campaign. She may have raised $2.5 million in 2 hours following the PA win, but her comeback story has not yet ignited a small donor base as large as his. There is danger that his donor base growth could stop expanding and indeed even contract if pessimism about his run takes hold from the attrition of her scorched earth strategy. Its another reason he must find a way to knee cap her. However, this is the Clintons we're talking about. He is unlikely to be able to achieve such a blow and they are unlikely to make a critical enough mistake that he can exploit.

To win, Clinton merely has to survive the primary season with an intact campaign. That gets her to the convention, and her presence there is a defacto rejection by the party of Obama as nominee. The supers are not going to kill off her campaign before June, which actually means they are not going to do it at all. They have essentially bought Clinton's argument that Obama's electability is suspect and are preserving the option to throw Obama's nomination under the bus at the convention. That is all the opening that Clinton requires.

The talk of a brokered convention is a fantasy and indeed it is a fantasy because it represents the best case scenario to be achieved in a confrontation between the Obama and Clinton camps at the convention. A brokered convention would mean that the defeat of Obama's nomination run by racial swiftboating would be achieved in some way that is palatable to Obama and his supporters and the democratic party electorate at large in a circumstance where Obama leads in delegates, popular vote, states won and money raised. Not...gonna....happen.

The more likely manner in which the convention will be described is fratricidal, because at the convention, what is there going to be to broker besides humiliation? Obama will lead in delegates, probably still lead in popular vote, states won and he'll still be crushing Clinton in the money race. But the party is going to come to him and say, you should take the VP spot. For the good of the party. No one should doubt his response is going to be some variation of "go f**k yourself".

Clinton is playing a game of chicken with the party. My advice to Obama in Denver this August when this scenario plays itself out? Play a little chicken with the party too. Obama should tell them that if they deny him the nomination when he leads in every metric, that he will leave the party and run as an independent, taking the black vote with him. Blacks will want an alternative and Obama should give it to them. He has the campaign machine and the money to do so. The democrats don't win the White House without the black vote. Period. Full Stop.

Permitting the destruction of Obama's historic run in this manner WILL suppress the black vote, as they withhold their votes from Clinton and permit her to crash and burn in November. Sharpton will protest in the streets of Denver, Hillary's black supporters will be vilified and the Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Its going to be jaw droppingly ugly political history in motion in August, because in the minds of reasonable black Americans this scenario would not be possible if Barack were a white candidate.