The 2012 Theorem

Well, things seem to slowly be fading back to normal, or as close to normal as they are likely to ever get.  After weathering a few harsh weeks, the Obama campaign comes out with a high profile endorsement and the political discussion is easing back into one of delegate math.

The Politico’s Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen’s piece today seems to be the major catalyst to getting everyone back to what has become an almost mind-numbingly repetitive debate on whether or not Hillary has a viable shot at winning the nomination.  The only thing that really stands out as new is the sentiments expressed from within the Clinton campaign that she only has about a 10% shot of winning.

Of course this comes from the ever-present unnamed source, the validity of which we have more than enough reason to doubt on its own merit.  Still, one assumes the Clinton campaign employs people who are just as well versed in mathematics as anyone else.  Point being, one would assume there were more than a few folks inside the Clinton camp with this mentality whether or not a staffer leaked it.  It goes without saying.

What this revelation allows us, though, is a moment to speculate upon motive and design, and ultimately to reflect once more upon how Clinton’s campaign, not necessarily Clinton herself, has done her so much ill.

To be frank and clear, I will repeat what I have often said thus far; that I believe that Clinton would have been in a much better position had she maintained her general strategy and message that she exhibited prior to late Autumn of last year.  That her campaign and her surrogates elected to deploy questionable means at best to try and blunt Senator Obama’s rise has led to numerous missteps and what has been thus far a bitter primary season.

Again, this is not meant as a condemnation against the candidate, but instead those who advise her, and to a degree, some of the more malicious who support her.

The reason one brings this is up is because if the Clinton campaign itself doesn’t believe there’s more than a 10% chance of victory, why on Earth does one employ a strategy of making the candidate with a 90% shot at the nomination as unelectable as possible?

And we know this is at least partly the case.  Calling into question Obama’s overall electability is one thing, for instance, but actively heaping on with the Wright controversy to Super Delegates is going a little beyond the pale.

To my way of thinking, if the Clinton campaign had a 50/50 shot at the nomination, I could halfway understand letting the Wright controversy do what it did; you are still shooting for the nomination.  I would at least comprehend the motive there, though I would still find it a little disappointing.  I would also understand trying to use the Wright controversy as part of a key argument with Super Delegates, but would be even more disappointed.

That’s not what Democrats who believe that McCain is the biggest threat to this country should do.

Given that Clinton’s chances are far worse than 50/50, one would think that someone who truly was opposed to Bush’s policies that would surely continue under a McCain administration would at least recognize that the Wright controversy has the potential of putting McCain in office, and help out with the damage control.

You can do that, believe me.  You can run a rigorous and tough campaign and be decent and hold up the integrity and viability of the party all at the same time.  What the Clinton campaign should have done was come out forcefully in support of Obama, it should have backed up the general precepts of his landmark speech, and continued to wage a tough campaign on the issues.  That would have been a display of leadership that I think would have made someone who is supportive of Obama like me give the Clinton camp a second look.

I wouldn’t have expected it, and I would have been pleasantly surprised.

But what they did was remained cemetery silent publicly, while behind closed doors performed a full court press with the Super Delegates.


Now, I’m sure you’ve heard someone whisper it before now.  2012.  It’s not a rampant rumor, it’s not a widely publicized theory, but it’s been out there almost from the moment the Clinton campaign started going negative.

If you missed it, all the 2012 theorem really means is that Hillary Clinton is trying to destroy Barack Obama’s chances of beating John McCain this fall so that Clinton can challenge him in four years.

I don’t think that anyone really expects Clinton to wait her turn through a two term presidency and try and make another run at it when she’s sixty-eight.  And even if she did, it is not likely that she would be the Vice Presidential pick for Obama meaning that she would have to face an uphill battle against someone who would be the presumptive nominee following an eight year Obama administration.

So, on the surface, there seems to be some plausibility to the idea that she may be setting herself up for another shot at the White House in four years.  But upon further scrutiny, one finds failed logic with this idea as well.

If the Clinton campaign is setting up a 2012 strategy now, it is failing for much the same reason her 2008 strategy is failing; negativity.  Indeed, the fatal flaw in executing a strategy that gives Obama the nomination but makes him unelectable is that it requires burning too many bridges.

As we’ve already seen, both campaigns have created considerably large and embittered camps that will require some effort in order to encourage reconciliation.  If Clinton cost Obama the General Election, or even the other way around, I wouldn’t expect too many people would be terribly eager to welcome the offender back for a second go.

Now, I don’t know.  I don’t know if this is what Hillary is thinking or not, and I’m not going to attribute to her a 2012 strategy without proof, the whole thing feeling more like a conspiracy theory than anything else.  What I am saying is that this is all further proof that Hillary chose the wrong team.

That has been her gravest mistake all along.  We can debate about the merits of her initial incumbent strategy; most are likely to say that it failed.  My personal opinion is that it was never given a chance.  At the first sign of trouble, the Clinton campaign abandoned it and went for the street brawler strategy that has been more of a pox upon both houses as opposed to anything else.

The true shame here is the machinations of Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson, et al.  Indeed, they are back to their old tricks again saying that now Bill Richardson is insignificant, the words “sour grapes” not exactly escaping their lips, but you can still hear it.

It is a little sad.  I think I could have liked Hillary.  There are two things she did that bothered me terribly; having Michael O’Hanlon as a security advisor was one, and voting for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard being labeled as a terrorist organization was another, but had she made a convincing argument, I think I would have been far more favorable than I currently am.  But Hillary’s advisors drove me away.

The following words from my friend Cernig ring particularly true:

Will they both please just cut it the f**k out?! But especially Clinton. I’m one of those who would be most sceptical of Obama’s experience and his Blair-style “all the people all the time” rhetoric if she’d just give me roomto do so. But every time her campaign indulges in another outrageous Republican-class smear, I end up defending Obama by proxy just by pointing out how ridiculously hypocritical she’s being. Sheesh.

For me the sentiment is slightly different.  I think I would have liked Clinton if her campaign just gave me room to do so.  I was just given so little chance.

Again, this is not meant to be inflammatory or incendiary.  This is all meant as honest criticism.  And to those bloggers who have gone absolutely off the rails (and you know who you are), I say only this; if Clinton truly is looking at a 2012 run, and you’re trying to help her, remember, you’re going to need the support of current Obama supporters to make that happen.  Indeed, you’re going to need support of current Obama supporters if you want to see Hillary beat McCain, so I would find some sort of way to play nice.

Now, that’s my two cents.  Let’s please get this thing back on the rails, let’s return ourselves to sanity and please oh please let’s kick McCain’s ass.

UPDATE: Big thanks to my buddy Dave for linking in.  He definitely takes this argument further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook