28 May 2008


Wow, she really is going down in flames; comparing the supposed black-coat conspiracy against her to fraudulent elections in Zimbabwe, and citing the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy as an example of a primary election that wasn't over by June.

The latter remark has been widely dissected, but what makes it offensive isn't so much that she invoked the murder of a politician whose ability to galvanize the youth vote against the party establishment reminds people of Obama but rather that it's completely counter-intuitive to the point she is vainly trying to make. If you want to find an example of a long, bitter primary fight that still had no adverse effect on the party's chances in the general election, 1968 must be the worst possible one you could imagine. Unless riots at the convention and the eventual election of Richard Nixon are your ideas of a great outcome.

At this point, I really haven't got any guess on what Clinton is up to anymore. I think I can say with some certainty that she is not going to be the next president of the United States, since using some backdoor machination to swindle the nomination would disenfranchise too many voters, particularly young people and African-Americans, in Obama's core of support. Is she hoping to torpedo Obama's run so she can return again in 2012? This is a strong accusation even for people as duplicitous as the Clintons, and it's not likely to work anyway. Clinton has already moved much of the Democratic base from being tepidly ambivalent toward her to active dislike. If Obama loses, she'll be widely blamed for the outcome by party activists, and the Clintons' status will fall even further. If they want to keep much influence within the party, they'd better hope Obama wins.

Of course, if Clinton does want to sink Obama's chances in November, she still holds a potent weapon. In a speech excerpted by last week's Washington Week on PBS, she invokes the suffragist movement, saying there were women in the audience who were born before universal suffrage was added to the Constitution. It's a subtle reminder that she is The Woman Candidate, and nicely dovetails with the rallying cry of many Clinton boosters on the internet claiming she is only losing because of sexism from the media and from Obama's campaign. Clinton may be trying to dog-whistle women voters both as a way to last-minute support and encourage them to stick it to the mean boys in the fall who stopped her from winning because they hate women. (See Brilliant at Breakfast and The Mahablog here and here.)