“He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.”

So this election season has been something of a bonding period for my stepdad and I.  Him being a Republican, me being a Democrat, one would think we would be at odds much of the time in politics, and to a degree we are, but at least during the primaries we have cause to commiserate and talk process and horse race without getting all red in the face and throwing things (the throwing things bit is a little difficult anyway given the three thousand miles of space between us).

It’s even better given the fact that we were both supporting underdog candidates, him supporting the freshly dropped out Mitt Romney, and of course me and my support for the ever ulcer inducing Obama campaign.  The other benefit is that he’ll toss some interesting articles my way, and the one that popped up in my inbox this morning is very interesting indeed.

In this piece, Peggy Noonan hits two solid points that seem to aptly characterize this democratic election.  The first is a simple question; can Hillary Clinton lose?  It’s a strange question because it seems to compliment the question that seemed to frame her entrance into the presidential race.  That question not being if she can win, but instead, does she ask herself if she think she can win?

There is nothing wrong with facing daunting odds and going after your goal anyway; that’s the kind of rugged can-do spirit that should be applauded in this society.  That’s not what is at stake here.  What is at stake is that self awareness required to even see the daunting odds.  Put differently, when Mrs. Clinton decided to jump off that particular cliff, right before, did she think to herself that it would be tough but she was going to do it anyway, or did she simply see the presidency as hers by right and eventuality?

All things considered, one is led to believe the latter.

This air of inevitability that surrounded her and her campaign, however, has largely dissolved, eaten away by the newcomer who has done more than prove that he’s the “first black candidate with a real shot”.  Going into this thing, I think people didn’t expect more than a strong showing from Obama; winning a state here and there, but for the most part playing second fiddle to the former first lady.  To this regard he has already exceeded all expectations, taking what was supposed to be a juggernaut of a campaign and keeping pace with it every step of the way.

Thus, as we head into the final acts of this political theater, Noonan hits the question dead on; can she lose?  There are still a lot of states left to play out and a lack of solid polling in many of them leave the future very gray and fuzzy–this could still go either way and there’s a possibility for either candidate to break loose despite most predictions that it will end in a photo finish.  But if things begin to break in Obama’s favor, can Hillary get out of the way?  Can she step aside so that Obama can at least head into a General Election without the taint of a brokered election, a backroom deal, or a mud campaign heaped upon him?

I know Obama can, but can she?

The second major point that Noonan strikes upon is much more focused upon the general election, and it’s something I’ve seen for quite some time now; the GOP is scared to death of Obama.

Interestingly, this hasn’t manifested in its usual manner because of the dynamics of the race until just a few weeks heading into the primaries.  Early on Republican frontrunners were going after Hillary hard, something one would think unwise.  This because conventionally you would lay off of what you perceived to be the easiest opponent, if you had someone you knew you could bring down, you let them ride to the nomination and then unleash the dogs of war.

But what makes things different was that during the preseason it was unfathomable for anyone but Hillary to win the Democratic nomination.  Obama was in second place, sure, but he was a distant second facing a powerful and deadly political machine, a popular ex-presidency, and broad name recognition.  The likelihood of Hillary Clinton winning the nomination was so high, Republicans started picking her apart early not because they wanted to sink her campaign in the primaries, but because they figured they were getting a head start.

But now that Obama is a real possibility, the GOP is slowly running to panic mode.  One thing that struck me was the response of the Obama music video over at Hot Air; they were scared.  Obama’s rise is centered around building a movement, not in negative campaigning (I’m not saying he never ever gets down to negative campaigning, just that for him it is very much on the periphery), and he’s got the skill to pull it off.  Hillary, by contrast, is extremely aggressive.

The resulting dynamic is one in which Republicans would not only relish going after Hillary, but no one would blame them for it.  Conversely, with Obama, not only is it possible to etch out a solid line of attack, the mere nature of his campaign brings into question the very idea of attacking.  Obama had, prior to South Carolina, acquired an image of being too soft, too ill-equipped for hard knock politics, and in the run up to South Carolina the Clintons threw everything at him, including the kitchen sink (as well as a very poor in taste Jesse Jackson jab) and not only did he come out the victor, he did it by a ridiculous margin.

Despite all the claims from Clintonistas that Obama’s not ready for the Republican attack machine, he stood up to the Clinton attack machine and got the better of it handily.  Republicans were watching, and while I’m sure they have tricks up their sleeves, I’m also pretty sure they’re more than a little befuddled.

As Peggy puts it, “He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof”.

I’m not so sure he is bulletproof; there are open lines of attack, but he’s proven that he can weather those attacks with style and grace.  So the question becomes, when it gets down to crunch time, is Hillary also capable of grace?

5 Responses to ““He’s not Bambi, he’s bulletproof.””

  1. T. Paine says:

    Hillary doesn’t really have a choice, does she? If she doesn’t cede gracefully, she’ll be crucified (politically speaking) and cast into political purgatory with Mean Joe Lieberman. I think she’ll bow out gracefully in public, but her campaign bosses with political aspirations will leverage her strength to gain “seats” in the Obama administration.

  2. Winston says:

    This post is completely out of touch with reality, on several levels. First, you seem to compare the “Clinton attack machine” with what is in store from the Republicans. How anyone can believe THAT, after what we’ve seen in recent elections, is beyond me. You had better believe that Obama’s middle name will be in every Republican ad, with ominous announcer overtones. So will his liberal voting record (much the same as Hillary’s), and so will his church pastor. And that’s just for starters. I’ve seen nothing – in him OR his star-struck supporters – that suggests anything close to “bulletproofing” against what will be directed at him. As for Republicans in panic mode, that too is laughable. There have already been a number of articles – in National Review, for one – about how weak Obama will look as a potential commander-in-chief compared to McCain. Once most of the conservatives solidify behind McCain, the attacks will begin, and your post will seem naive indeed.

  3. Winston,

    Let me answer your comment with the following…


    Shall I continue? Trust me, if you think Hillary is somehow vetted or bullet proof then you are delusional.

  4. markg8 says:

    Noonan is right. In the county proclaimed by the local Repub machine the “reddest county in the country” DuPage County IL:


    “State Sen. Dan Cronin, chairman of the DuPage Republican Party, pointed out that some of the Democratic ballots may have been cast by Republicans hoping to select the Democratic candidate easiest to defeat.

    “I know Republicans who voted for Hillary because they would prefer her as the Democratic nominee since the common position is she would be the easier one to beat,” Cronin said.”

    Cronin is whistling past the graveyard. For the first time in history more Dem ballots than Repub were taken in this primary (132,000 to 109,000) and Obama beat Hillary
    in DuPage 61.43% to 36.93%. There was no surge of Hillary votes, it was all Obama and the indies and Repubs came over in droves to vote for him. He got even beat McCain 81176 votes and to 57428.

  5. Winston says:

    Michael, my comment said absolutely nothing about Clinton, so your response is not to the point, to say the least. But since you raise the issue, I think there is less of a downside for her at this point than you seem to think exists for Obama. He’s had little but positive commentary from conservatives and media pundits who hate Clinton. My argument is that this will change once he goes head-to-head with another beloved media figure (i.e., McCain), and the Rove-inspired no-holds-barred attack machine is launched. He will then seem much more vulnerable than the post seemed to suggest and that he has appeared to be to date.

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