Clinton Wins Puerto Rico; Loses More Than Just the Nomination

As expected, Senator Hillary Clinton has won the Puerto Rico primary, bringing her net delegate gain over the weekend up to about forty after the Rules and Bylaws Committee ruling on Saturday which opted to seat all of the delegates, but award them only half a vote each.

This leaves us with only South Dakota and Montana left to vote tomorrow.

Though both states are expected to go to Obama, with only forty-seven delegates between them, they will make little impact on the race, and based on a conservative estimate should push Obama to within under thirty delegates necessary to lock up the nomination.

For Clinton, who is more than 200 delegates shy by CNN’s count of the needed number to cross the finish line, the race is all but over. Or, it should be anyway.

It’s been an increasingly ugly primary season, one that at first had some elder’s shrugging their shoulders and looking to some of us youngun’s and saying, “What, you think this is a bitter primary?”, and now feels to just about everyone as though we are staring down the brink of party annihilation. For a run on the White House that was supposed to be easy as pie, we’re now not sure how much of an uphill battle we have before us, but few think it will be easy.

And for Hillary’s part, I believe she lost a lot more than just her party’s nomination.

It’s been an interesting thing to watch Hillary Clinton throughout this primary season. She began as the magnanimous front-runner; showing up at every debate with a smile on her face, completely unflappable, and artful in redirecting every response into an attack at Bush and the Republicans. Her fundraising capabilities were legendary, and her party support was supposed to be the lock. Indeed, as early as when she announced her presidential bid she had more than a hundred Super Delegates line up right behind her.

There’s no dishonor in losing. There’s not even dishonor in losing what you should have won. As I’m fond of repeating because I’m as capable of mistakes as anyone, we’re human, we overlook things, we screw up. But how you lose does speak volumes about the person, and the way Clinton is losing has, I believe, lost her quite a bit more than the nomination.

To be sure, there are definitely hard and real things that she has lost. Weeks ago I started seeing reports that Clinton may have trouble just holding onto her senate seat, and a position that was once thought to be a consolation prize very much available to her; Senate Majority Leader, is, as I understand it, completely off the table.

Indeed, the so-called “Dream Ticket” is off the table too, apparently. Over the weekend, the Telegraph reported that the Obama campaign has put together a package that offers Clinton an opportunity to retire with “dignity”. Along with paying off part of her campaign’s debts, and the seating of the delegations of Florida and Michigan (Note: for all those who are complaining about how FL and MI were seated, remember, Obama actually had the votes to seat Michigan more in his favor, but was at least making an attempt at grace here), Clinton will be offered a cabinet position.

There is no room at the top of the ticket for her.

Nor, do I think there ever will be. Ironically, whether she, her campaign, or her supporters realize this or not, Clinton’s political future now rests upon Obama’s success. If Obama loses this fall, she does as well. While some would love to dream that it’s true, Clinton simply doesn’t have the support outside the party to leave the Democrats, and it’s hard to imagine too many Democrats not holding her responsible in some way for losing an election that was supposed to be a lock.

As I say, there is no dishonor in losing, but the way in which the Clinton campaign has chosen to lose is different.

Despite the many gaffes and ill-chosen words and narratives, and believe me, there have been more than a few, I think the greatest travesty produced from the Clinton campaign was displayed in all of its glory on Saturday. There, outside of the Rules and Bylaws Committee gathering held to finally bring the Michigan and Florida debates to a close, protestors stood outside declaring everything from the striking of the Florida and Michigan votes was on par with, or worse than slavery, as well as accusing Barack Obama of having gay sex in a limo backin the 90’s.

It isn’t the protest itself that is what is completely bothersome; people will believe what they want to believe, and when enough believe it, they will assemble and protest. It is what led up to that point that I find shameful.

And I find it shameful for no other reason than for how inherently dishonest it was.

The fact of the matter is that Clinton has used the veil of civil rights to cover up what was essentially her fault. Yes, we all know that Clinton didn’t care about Michigan and Florida until she needed them, that’s bad enough, but to get people to believe that these two states were why she lost the nomination, that her newfound concern with seating these delegates was on par with Women’s Lib, or the Civil Rights movement of the sixties is ludicrous. As is too this idea that she lost primarily out of sexism.

Look, I’ve watched this thing from the very beginning right down to the bitter end, and yes, there has been both sexism and racism throughout, but it is positively dishonest to imply that Clinton lost for any prime reason other than the failings of herself and her campaign.

It wasn’t Florida. It wasn’t Michigan. It wasn’t sexism. It was February.

In fact, it wasn’t just February, but that Obama simply understood the Democratic primaries better than Clinton and her campaign did, and he ran a much more effective campaign and proved far better at performing the best when it came to the one metric that really matters: winning delegates.

I focus on February because when we look at the math now at the end of the race, we see that the final delegate disparity between the two candidates will not be all that appreciably greater than it was at the end of Obama’s eleven contest winning streak. Had Hillary planned for and competed effectively following Super Tuesday, she would likely be the nominee right now. And this despite a great many other flaws that she exhibited that would need to be addressed prior to the general election such as her inability to maintain a consistent message, or her inability to keep her husband from hindering her campaign.

Thus, Clinton not only shamelessly tries to hide her own flaws behind the mask of a martyr, at the same time she cheapens the push for equality by using it for her own politically cynical means. This party was supposed to be about equality for everyone, but you now have Clinton supporters using racial arguments against Obama, and you have feminists going after feminists, and it’s terrible considering that at one point in time I was of the mind that, hey, we’re going to have a black man or a woman as a president, and either way is going to be a huge step forward. Instead, Clinton has facilitated a graceless step backwards in a last ditch attempt to wrest from her opponent a nomination that he has won about as fairly as possible.

Which is something else I think is worth mentioning. One thing that will be difficult to forgive is how Clinton has attempted to de-legitimize Obama’s nomination. Only now with retrospect does it become fully clear that the endgame to all the goal post shifting was not simply to try and carve out a path to victory where none existed, but also to throw into question the legitimacy of her opponent’s victory, thus potentially hamstringing him before he even gets out the gate.

At the forefront of this argument is Clinton’s claim to be the winner of the popular vote. But even that is itself a dishonest metric. This because the Democratic primary is not like the General Election; it is combination of popular vote contests and caucuses which greatly undermines the significance of the popular vote.

Further, while the delegations for Michigan and Florida have been seated, it is simply dishonest to lump them in with the popular vote when both candidates pledged not to campaign in those two states, and Obama wasn’t even on the ballot in Michigan. I’ve repeated this argument over and over, but I will repeat it again. People didn’t show up to vote in those states because they were under the impression that their vote wouldn’t count. Hillary had a severe name recognition advantage over Obama that he wasn’t given the opportunity to rectify. And in the case of Michigan, Obama not being on the ballot is more akin to the kinds of “elections” held in Cuba and North Korea.

Indeed, even CNN acknowledges in the article linked to at the top of this post that her claim to being the popular vote leader is dubious at best, and as Kos diarist RenaRF painstakingly details, there are multiple ways to add up the popular vote, and those that put Clinton on top are of the more creative variety.

All of which fuels the radical Clinton movement we see today that threatens to shake the very pillars of the Democratic party if they don’t get their way. There are, from what I see, two sorts in what I believe to be a minority of Clinton’s support.

There are first those that are truly swept up in the manufactured outrages and injustices of this primary season. Incapable of seeing that Clinton sealed her own fate when she relied too heavily upon Super Tuesday to sweep her straight to the nomination, they have bought full dollar into every faux Civil Rights movement the Clinton campaign has attempted to stir up.

And then there are those that I touched upon in a post I wrote back in November. There was little that was right that I wrote about in that post. Entitled, “Why Obama Won’t Win,” I didn’t foresee Obama actually wrestling the establishment from the Clintons, and I didn’t foresee him being able to outperform Clinton in the primary contests. But I did hint upon a breed of Democrat that would become a driving force in the current animosity that we see today:

On the other hand, those looking for a prize fighter have no qualms with the image of Hillary as a negative person.

That’s what they want in the first place. And beside that, things are so bitter I can actually imagine there being a considerable number of people who might take some sort of satisfaction of taking this figure who is so hated by the right, by the Republicans, and shoving her straight down their collective throats.

Meanwhile, what of Obama? There is talk that he’s taking the gloves off, that he’s ready to get tough now, and that’s all well and good. Despite the media’s characterization of the “politics of hope,” I’ve always maintained that there was nothing outlined in Obama’s philosophy that precludes him from engaging in the, as he calls it in his book Audacity of Hope, “rough and tumble of modern politics”. But it just isn’t enough for the Democratic party.

While Americans as a whole may be ready for an Obama presidency, the fact of the matter is, Democrats aren’t.

As I watch the vitriol coming from a very vocal portion of Clinton’s supporters, I don’t see people for whom governance is the key. For them it is doing damage and getting payback. Some of it is about revenge for what the Clintons went through in the nineties, and some of it is being able to do to the Republicans what they have been doing to us for the past several decades. And some of it is simply just wanting to shove the person Republicans hate the most right down their throats.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that there are plenty of Clinton supporters that simply believe she would make the best president. But these, I’m afraid, have become the silent majority. In fact, many of us within the party have been shunted to silent majority status as the most belligerent of Clinton supporters have taken to increasingly reprehensible tactics.

For those who marched outside the Rules and Bylaws Committee, seating one hundred percent of the delegations with full voting in total proportion as is would not satisfy them; not so long as Obama was the nominee. For this vocal minority, nothing would be satisfying, there is no fairplay. It is “we get what we want or else…”

Ironically, this puts Clinton in an interesting position.

If she can convince these voters to vote for Obama in the fall, Clinton becomes a hero. If she can’t, if her supporters leave the Democratic party for good, I do believe that she will bear a major portion of the blame for losing the election in November.

And, honestly, it is right that she should.

More at Memeorandum: TIME.com, THE GUN TOTING LIBERAL™, TalkLeft, American Spectator, Los Angeles Times, African American …, The Reaction, Swampland, culturekitchen, Liberal Values, Truthdig, Sister Toldjah, PoliBlog (TM), TPM Election Central and MSNBC

(edited by DrGail)

3 Responses to “Clinton Wins Puerto Rico; Loses More Than Just the Nomination”

  1. Jamie Holts says:

    I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  2. A.R.Yngve says:

    Quote:
    “While Americans as a whole may be ready for an Obama presidency, the fact of the matter is, Democrats aren’t.”

    I think, or worry, that this problem is part of a bigger issue, a tendency which Douglas Hofstadter named “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”; there has always been a tendency, both on the left and right, to exaggerate the stakes, to demonize the opponent, to invent resentments and imaginary cabals, to carry excessive chips on the shoulder… to revert, in short, to paranoid reasoning.

    Hofstadter wrote:
    —————————-
    “Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention.

    “This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.”
    ———————–
    Sounds familiar?

    Look: I think that the American presidency is more than just the person in the Oval Office; it’s also made up by the organization around it and the laws and institutions that create a framework for it, and finally the public trust that legitimizes this entire system.

    In other words, the President is a glorified office worker, a part (albeit an important part) of a larger society.

    So what really matters is not that “my” candidate wins, but that the system works and is trusted. If the “other” candidate wins, a reasonable person will think: “OK, let’s see if we can work out a compromise with him/her.”

    But in paranoid minds, the President (or any leader for that matter) becomes a sinister Master of the World, who secretly pulls the strings of reality.

    In the short term, these loonies (like the ones screaming “You stole my vote!”) are ridiculous. In the long term, they — unwittingly — work to undermine the public trust that upholds a democratic system.

    The most extreme expression of this paranoia is what has long plagued American politics: the crazed gunman. And that is why the paranoid style in American politics must be avoided by candidates and parties, never be encouraged: it is playing with fire.

  3. DrGail says:

    I was struck, while reading your post, with the notion of Clinton de-legitimizing Obama as the nominee. In a way, it’s not much different than what angry white men do when a black man gets ahead: they make it seem that he only got ahead because he was black. That, then, casts a shameful light on affirmative action and the cycle begins anew, as this merely reinforces the need for affirmative action in the first place.

    Along with a bazillion other people, I’m sure, I watched the video of that rabid woman from New York spouting off at the rules committee meeting. It’s probably the case that every candidate who ever ran for any office has angry and vicious supporters like that.

    What seems unprecedented to me, though, is the apparent willingness of Camp Clinton to let these people serve as their public face. If anything, rather than furthering the cause of women’s rights, it probably is a step backwards. I can just see the misogynists saying “See, it’s best to keep those women in the background because, if you let them speak up, all manner of ugliness comes out.”

    Granted, men have hardly cornered the market on being sore losers, but trailblazers always have an outsized impact on how the rest of the group they represent is viewed.

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