The fat lady that Barack Obama had waiting in the wings Tuesday night didn’t even get the chance to clear her throat before Hillary Clinton sent her packing with a plane ticket home and a hotel reservation in Denver for August.
Obama didn’t seal the deal and drive Clinton from the Democratic Presidential race. Instead, she won three out of four primary races and staged yet another improbable comeback.
Before the polls closed, pundits wondered when Democratic leaders would descend on the Senator from New York and convince her to withdraw “for the good of the party.”
Now they know what many political pros knew all along — never sell the Clintons short and never count anyone out before the final votes are counted.
Many of those same pundits wrote off the struggling candidacy of John McCain last fall when the Arizona Senator seemed to run out of steam and campaign cash. On the same night Clinton staged her comeback, McCain clinched the GOP nomination.
So much for conventional political wisdom.
When the shouting dies down, Clinton’s victory may seem more cosmetic. She didn’t gain much ground on Obama’s lead in the delegate count and she still trails the Illinois Senator in states won and overall popular vote.
But her wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island gives her renewed street cred, energizes a campaign beset with morale and cash-flow problems and opens the door for at least seven more weeks of the kind of attack-dog campaign tactics that some say turned around her campaign in recent days.
Obama-mania may be declining as he struggles with three losses after a string of 12 straight primary wins. Questions about his relationship with a corrupt Chicago real estate developer and shady political power broker still linger and he needs to add substance to his rhetoric if he wants to regain lost momentum.
Still, Obama has the numbers on his side and Clinton will need more than a one-night stand to overtake his lead. She can overtake Obama if super delegates vote her way and if she finds a way to count delegates from wins in Michigan and Florida. But winning in such a way could leave Democrats split and wounded for a tough fight with McCain in the fall.
Yogi Berra said “it ain’t over ’till its over” and this sucker is a long way from over.