C-O-N-spiracy

I believe it was a commenter here that said that the most interesting thing about the past few months is that the Clintons that have incurred so much ire from a major swath of the Democratic party are the same Clintons from a month ago that we would have gladly voted for.

It is interesting.

For Bill Clinton we see yet another tiny shard of his legacy slipping away. Why this time? Because it’s a conspiracy that his wife is getting pushed out. That it’s a major media “cover up” regarding her chances of winning.

There’s almost so much to do with this latest bit from the ex-President that it’s hard to find a place to begin.

First and foremost, I want to get rid of this whole conspiracy business from the onset. While I’m at it, I may as well dispense with this malarkey that Clinton is the outsider running against Obama, the “establishment candidate.” Both are fallacious arguments.

Regarding the conspiracy, I think it important to take note that Hillary Clinton was early vaulted to front runner status before a single voter headed to the polls. Why? It was a combination of factors, the first being name recognition. As the former First Lady, Hillary Clinton easily had the highest level of name recognition amongst all of the Democratic candidates entering the field. The only other two candidates that had even close to the same amount of familiarity with Democrats and the greater electorate at large were Joe Biden and John Edwards, and still I find it difficult to believe that either could match the high profile two terms that Senator Clinton spent as FLOTUS.

The second factor is that she WAS the establishment candidate. Remember, she jumped out the gate with a huge lead in Super Delegates, which was a function of her strong support from within the party establishment. Clinton also has one of the most impressive rolodexes in the party thanks in no small part to the fundraising inroads that her husband had made during his time as president. Hillary Clinton remained the establishment candidate until after suffering a string of heavy losses from which she never fully recovered in February. It was that month long shellacking (to use a Taylor Marsh term), that resulted in much of the establishment abandoning her. Since then, further movements away from the Clintons have largely been caused by Hillary’s campaigning style which have turned many sour against her.

But the final reason why Clinton began the nomination race as the heavy favorite was because of the Mainstream Media which had all but coronated her as the presumptive nominee before a single state had gone to vote. One can understand why, of course; she held massive leads in just about every state outside of Illinois and Iowa, but let’s not forget that it was the very media that Bill Clinton now says is conspiring against Hillary that at one point in time reported upon the Democratic nomination race as though the field consisted of Hillary, and seven other also-rans.

But the other thing that I find disingenuous about Bill Clinton’s assertion is the insistence that Hillary is “winning the General Election.”

Correlating performance during the primary season directly to performance in the general election is quickly becoming something of a pet peeve of mine because it’s not simply wrong, but grossly wrong and wrong-headed to boot. Granted, I understand the need to find a friendly argument wherever you can get one, but this is simply ridiculous.

For one, and I can’t believe how often I’ve had to say this, winning a state in the primaries does not mean you’ll win that state in the general election, period. The demographic spread changes, and the strategy changes. In fact, everything is so completely different from the general election to the primaries that making virtually any connection between the two is a fallacy bordering on intellectual dishonesty.

So too is preaching like gospel polling numbers from six months out, and only select numbers too, might I add. Taking a quick look at RCP’s numbers, if you only listened to Zogby, IBD, and Battleground, than you would be an outright fool to think Clinton is nearly as electable Obama.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems with using six month out polling data to predict an election, though. For one, with Hillary Clinton’s effective chances of winning the nomination at zero, she may be relegated to shadow delegate status, and shadow delegates nearly always poll better than real delegates. Also, Barack Obama will be facing a name recognition deficit against John McCain that will not be much unlike the name recognition deficit he faced against Hillary Clinton, and should likely rise once he is nominated and has the opportunity to introduce himself to the greater electorate as opposed to just those within the party.

In fact, with a full SIX MONTHS between now and November, there are about a million things that Obama could and likely will do to beat John McCain. To take today’s polling numbers is to do what was done to him in Michigan and Florida, and essentially prevent him the opportunity of, you know, actually campaigning.

Which does bring me to my final point about Clinton’s remarks on their own. Obama WON the primary the way it was supposed to be won. While virtually every argument that entails predicting general election performance based upon primary performance fails even the slightest bit of logical scrutiny, there is one question that is actually very valid.

Who won the primaries and how?

Why is this line of thought valid when all others aren’t? Because the answer is not founded upon data that doesn’t exist, or isn’t significant, but instead speaks to a slightly different aspect of how races are run. Specifically, and I say this more times than I would like to, Obama won the primary by measuring the battlefield and designing a winning strategy that took into account the heavy advantages that his opponent enjoyed.

Thus, we can’t say with one hundred percent assurance, but we can say with reasonable confidence that Obama has the capacity to correctly assess a situation and design a strategy that leads to success given the failings and assets of himself and his opponent.

Clinton’s performance, generally, in the primary reflects two things; not adequately assessing the political landscape, and trying to win through less than legitimate methods after the fact.

In the case of the former, all one really has to do to see this is look at February. She lost every post Super Tuesday contest in February because she did not assess the playing field correctly. She was not prepared for a prolonged battle, and she had no mechanism in place to compete heavily in TEN contests in a row. That is not a stirring endorsement of someone who will have what it takes to run a fifty state campaign against McCain.

In the case of the latter, we see a Hillary Clinton who may resort to lawyers and lawsuits in order to win the election by any means necessary. This is evidenced by those methods of winning the nomination that she has already telegraphed she would employ. Transposed to the General election this would result in lawyers and lawsuits, and it may award her the White House, but she would be taking on the Oval Office during one of its most challenging periods, and she would do so facing Republican wrath not unlike that which Bush faced from liberals and Democrats after the 2000 debacle in Florida.

Shorter: she would divide the country even further than it currently is.

But here’s the thing. Bill knows this, or at least he should. The man who has been dubbed by some as the greatest political mind of our time should know all of these things and more, and yet he gets up and spouts this ridiculousness anyway. He should know better.

Above all else, the White House was his wife’s and his (to a lesser extent) to lose, and now that they lost it, they have adopted a trait from the current occupier of the White House. That trait being to blame everyone but themselves. This sort of behavior is great for making yourself feel better, but it does absolutely nothing for learning from one’s mistakes so they are not repeated in the future.

This, too, does not paint Clinton favorably for a General Election run should she manage to find a way to steal the nomination.

More at Memeorandum: The Daily Dish, NO QUARTER, Balloon Juice and Sweetness & Light

(edited by DrGail)

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