Hillary Clinton says she’s still in it to win it.
Although pundits and political observers say there’s almost no way she can wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Barack Obama, Clinton is still campaigning. She even raised controversy recently when she invoked the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy to note that previous nominating campaigns extended into the summer.
Why is Clinton still campaigning? Should she be? Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, jump into the fray.
There is no reason to believe that Hillary Clinton, by mentioning Robert F. Kennedy, was somehow offering public hopes that a similar fate would somehow befall Barack Obama. But it’s still silly to compare this year’s nominating race to 1968.
There were primary elections that year, yes, but they were meaningless “beauty contests.” Everybody knew all the real action would take place in the proverbial “smoke-filled back rooms” at the Chicago convention. Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination in 1968 without entering a single primary, and that was his strategy. Clinton turned 21 that year and surely knows it was different historical moment; today we expect caucuses and primaries to decide these things, which is why the conventions have largely become scripted commercials that aren’t any fun to watch.
Hillary Clinton has fought long, hard and tenaciously for the Democratic nomination. Barring a political or personal disaster for Obama, however, she will lose.
She has every right to fight all the way to the convention in Denver, but at this point that’s like saying she has every right to fight for John McCain to win the White House. If she keeps it up, we can forget Robert F. Kennedy — in November, Democrats might be comparing Clinton to Ralph Nader.
Why is Hillary Clinton still running? Well, why not? The odd circumstances in which Clinton finds herself — behind in delegates but nearly ahead in the popular vote, with the fates of Michigan and Florida’s delegates unlikely to satisfy anyone — counsel tenacity and perseverance. And that should concern Obama Democrats and Rush Limbaugh Republicans alike.
If Clinton wins the nomination fight in Denver this August, she’ll have pulled it off in part because of partisan meddling. It’s hard to know how many votes Rush Limbaugh delivered to Clinton in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, but certainly more votes than if the nationally syndicated talk show host had never launched “Operation Chaos.” The stunt aimed at disrupting Democratic party unity has kept Clinton in the race long enough to give her a legitimate shot at the nomination… and the Oval Office.
Clinton may deserve to lose because of her lies, misstatements and demeanor. But she’s staying in because of her numbers. She’s won battleground states that the very liberal Obama would have trouble winning in November.
As Clinton argued in the New York Daily News recently, “Delegate math might be complicated — but electoral math is not. Our campaign is winning the popular vote — and we’ve been winning the swing states we need to get 270 electoral votes and take back the White House: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and West Virginia.”
Republicans and Democrats should not be sanguine in the face of those facts. Some members of Clinton’s own party have derided her as delusional, craven, foolish, selfish and soulless. But she’s also popular. And if history has taught anything, it’s to never count out the Clintons. Ever.
(Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis blog daily at www.infinitemonkeysblog.com and joelmathis.blogspot.com.)