I know I keep saying that I won’t write about this anymore, and if you don’t want to read it, then just stop now.
The more I watch the mess that is playing out in the Democratic Presidential nomination, the more transfixed I am by the terrifying slow motion apocalypse that is happening before our eyes. The ever shifting “win”. The attempts at pacifying through praise. The ever-lengthening display of surrogate after surrogate paraded across the stage, pleading the case of a candidate who has obviously thrown everything from finances to self-worth into what is quickly becoming a tragic loss. If there is has ever, on such a public stage, been performed a more thorough example of a Greek Tragedy, I do not know what it is. This is the most public, drawn out, and heart wrenching personal and political meltdown in the history of modern politics.
I’m watching this display of desperation, and trying to identify, both emotionally and intellectually, with both sides.
On the Obama side, this has to be the best preparation for dealing with the diplomatic madness that is Iran and North Korea that any Presidential candidate could possibly experience. Unfortunately for them, they are not dealing with a despot. They are dealing with a person who shares many of their same beliefs. They are dealing with a person who has held massive sway in the party that they both claim. It’s an impossible situation for the Obama camp. They have to do everything in their power to pacify, all the while trying to hold on to their momentum through the convention. That no one on their side has publicly lost their temper is a testimony to their discipline.
On the Clinton side, they see a candidate that had her mantle, the hopes and dreams of literally millions of Americans, stolen by a man they see as unfit to govern. Further, they see a candidate who represents the long hard fight of a generation of women. A promise, stolen once again, by a system stacked against them. There is no way to do this kind of anger and disappointment justice. It is an anger, thrust on a candidate (Obama) who just happened to be in the way.
The Clinton campaign has traveled the breadth of emotions over the past several months. From the early inevitability, to the stunning defeats in Iowa, S. Carolina, and Super Tuesday, to the desperate, yet slipping clutch on reality that they have today. I cannot imagine what she, and her most fervent supporters are going through, but I know the anger is real. Hillary and her supporters have chased the ever-changing promise of victory as bait, from worms and crickets to floaters and spinners. They have gladly altered their diet to suit the needs of the campaign, and each time, their dinner has been snatched away from them by a campaign that was better organized and funded. Now they are hungry, and angry, and disoriented, and any food will do (with maps from Karl Rove & Co. on page 5, nice touch).
The Clinton camp sent out letters to all the Super (or automatic) delegates. That letter can be read here. As she argues that the “will of the people should not be overturned by Superdelegates” she is pleading with supers to overturn the will of the people. It’s a classic “win by any means, even if they compete against each other” strategy that illustrates the depth of desperation.
No matter what happens on Saturday, Clinton’s supporters will not be satisfied. Satisfaction only comes from ultimate victory…a victory that is fleeting with nearly all the best-case scenarios. The question is, what will happen from there.
Back in January, I, and many other Edwards as well as Clinton supporters, accused the Obama campaign of being a cult of personality, a phase that would pass and garner no traction in the larger campaign. I was certain that Obama would suffer, as Howard Dean had before him, from something that would mortally wound his campaign, giving the nomination to someone else. I was right, just about the wrong candidate.
Hillary’s supporters have taken the early ugliness put forth by some of the less savory supporters of Obama and taken it to a level that I have not seen in any nominating process in my life. They have chosen to make this so personal, to the possible detriment of the party and it’s eventual nominee, to see their victory through. It is the Clinton campaign that is the cult of personality, intent on her victory at the expense of all else, whether it be shifting the metric for winning or blindly swinging to hopefully land the blow that will cripple the Obama campaign and ensure their success.
The endgame will not come on Saturday, or Sunday, or the Tuesday after. The endgame will not come for the fervent supporters of Hillary Clinton (as opposed to the Democratic party) until she is declared the winner of all. There is no concession that will be enough to satisfy them. There is no other solution, in their view. She must win.
The onus now falls on the candidate. Can she divorce herself of her ambition, in the face of a nearly impossible situation, to unite the party behind it’s eventual nominee…not her. That’s really the only question left. The answer will most certainly be long and tortured, it will be fraught with anger and dismay, it may or may not come quickly, but eventually, reality will sink in, and the public meltdown that was the 2008 Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign will have to come to an end.
That end may not be quick or pretty. There are a lot of different ways that end can play out. Some that take us well past the convention, and into the realm of another broken promise…that she will support the Democratic nominee. My biggest hope is that the nominating process doesn’t end like the 2006 Senate race in Connecticut with two “Democrats” on the general election ballot. The end result, in this instance, will be 4 more years of Republicans in the White House.