Monday, February 25, 2008

Hillary is losing

Bob Novak finally asks out loud the question which Democrat party bosses have been thinking about and even beginning to whisper to each other. Who will tell Hillary that it is time to go?

Even before Sen. Barack Obama won his ninth straight contest against Sen. Hillary Clinton, in Wisconsin last Tuesday, wise old heads in the Democratic Party were asking this question: Who will tell her that it's over, that she cannot win the presidential nomination and that the sooner she leaves the race, the more it will improve the party's chances of defeating Sen. John McCain in November?

In an ideal though unattainable world, Clinton would have dropped out when it became clear even before Wisconsin that she could not be nominated. The nightmare scenario was that she would win in Wisconsin, claiming a "comeback" that would propel her to narrow victories in Texas and Ohio on March 4. That still would not have cut her a path to the nomination. But telling her then to end her candidacy and avoiding a bloody battle stretching to the party's national convention in Denver might not have been achievable.

The Democratic dilemma recalls the Republican problem, in a much different context, 34 years ago, when GOP graybeards asked: "Who will bell the cat?" -- or, go to Richard Nixon and inform him that he had lost his support in the party and must resign the presidency. Sen. Barry Goldwater successfully performed that mission in 1974, but there is no Goldwater facsimile in today's Democratic Party (except for Sen. Ted Kennedy, who could not do it because he has endorsed Obama).

Clinton's rationale for remaining a candidate is the Texas-Ohio parlay, and pre-Wisconsin polls gave her a comfortable lead in both states. But Texas has become a dead heat, and her margin in Ohio is down to single digits. Following the Wisconsin returns, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Clinton's leading endorser in the state, is reported to have privately expressed concern as to whether he can hold the state for her. If she ekes out a win in Ohio while losing Texas, who will bell Hillary?

The former sense of inevitability regarding Clinton becoming the first female president was based on her dominance over weak fields in both parties. McCain was the one Republican who worried Democratic strategists, and he appeared dead three months ago. Mitt Romney, the then-likely Republican nominee, was viewed in Democratic circles as unelectable.

Obama's improbable candidacy always worried Clinton insiders, which explains the whispering campaign that the Illinois neophyte would prove vulnerable to a Republican onslaught as the presidential nominee. That private assault continues to this day, with Obama described as a latter-day George McGovern whose career record of radical positions will prove easy prey for GOP attack dogs.

But Clinton could not go before Democratic primary voters and assail Obama for being too far to the left. Instead, she insinuated moral turpitude by asserting that Obama had not been "vetted." When that backfired, she claimed plagiarism by Obama in lifting a paragraph from a speech by his friend and supporter Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts governor -- an approach that yielded mainly derisive laughter among politicians.

I listened in on last Wednesday's news media conference calls by Clinton campaign managers Mark Penn and Harold Ickes in the wake of her Wisconsin drubbing. Incredibly, they were hawking the same plagiarism charge that had just proved ineffective. Clinton herself raised the bogus issue again at Thursday night's debate in Austin and was rewarded with boos from the Democratic audience.

Clinton's burden is not only Obama's charisma but also McCain's resurrection. Some of the same Democrats who short months ago were heralding her as the "perfect" candidate now call her a sure loser against McCain, saying she would do the party a favor by just leaving.

Clinton's tipping point may have come when it was announced that her $5 million loan to her campaign came from a fund she shares with Bill Clinton. That puts into play for the general election business deals by the former president that transformed him from an indigent to a multimillionaire and might excite interest in their income tax returns, which the Clintons refuse to release. The prospect impels many Democratic insiders to pray for the clear Obama victories on March 4 that they hope will make it unnecessary for anybody to beg Hillary Clinton to end her failed campaign.

Usually I am not the sort of person who likes to kick a person when they are down. However Hillary and Bill Clinton are such perfect living symbols of nearly everything that is wretched, detestable, vile, filthy and evil about the modern Democrat party that it is not just acceptable to pile on but even necessary.

Back when Bill Clinton won re-election to the presidency a great many of us thought that at least after another four years it would be over and he would go off into that twilight of presidential retirement and we could forget about him. Then people began talking about how Hillary was going to try to take his place in the Oval Office. It didn't seem possible at first, but then she was elected to the Senate and then it seemed that we would have to live with a shrill thick-ankled sword of Damocles hanging over our heads just waiting to fall on us in 2008.

Now her own party is rejecting her and a lot of us are tempted to pop the corks on some champagne bottles and have a party (it will help us forget that McCain is our nominee) but celebration is premature. Although it is unlikely that McCain will win in November we have to consider the possibility that he will. What about 2012? By then McCain's age will be a major consideration. So much so that a great many people believe that he only intends to serve one term.

The thinking goes that he will put everything he has into reforming the budget process so that earmarks and other egregiously wasteful practices will be done away with, win the war in Iraq and work with congressional Democrats to ram through an amnesty/open borders bill and impose draconian regulations on the economy under the guise of global warming legislation.

Having secured his legacy (at least in his own mind) McCain will decline to seek the nomination a second time which will allow his vice president to run as a sort of incumbent against whoever the Democrats nominate.

The problem is that the Republican party will be so demoralized by all that McCain will do mess up the country that it may not be possible to mount an effective campaign in 2012 no matter who the nominee is. This could leave the door open for a resurgent Hillary - unless we destroy her so utterly now we literally break her spirit and render her psychologically incapable of risking another political campaign.

To this end I say kick her as hard as you can while she is down. Stomp on her. Work her over with sledgehammers and crowbars, blowtorches and pliers. Dig a hole down to the earth's mantle and throw her in it and fill it in then have the Pope himself seal the cover-stone with the same ritual that St. Peter used to seal the gates of Hell. Put her into a rocket and fire her into the heart of the sun or embed her in a rogue comet heading out into interstellar space. Do whatever it takes (within the law, of course) to ensure that she never rises again to torment us.

And do it all in the depressing knowledge that like the monster in a bad horror movie no matter what we do she can always come back for another sequel.