As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Spun Into The Ground

This back and forth between an imaginary Barack Obama and an imaginary Hillary Clinton signifies nothing. Both sides can make a lot of arguments, most of which have the benefit of being true, to prove their case that the Democratic electorate actually wants them to be the nominee. They have expert spinners on their staffs who would be just as adept at arguing the other candidate's side if that was who were paying them. Yes, neither side will be able to win without superdelegates. Yes, Obama's pledged delegate lead is unassailable. Yes, Michigan and Florida need to be seated. Yes, the rules are the rules and there ought to be new votes under those rules. Yes, Obama has won a significant amount of swing states (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Colorado) and looks like he could get a lot of crossover voters there. Yes, Clinton has won big states, suggesting that Obama's organizing strategy, which is predicated on voter contact, runs up against a wall when there are simply too many voters to contact.

This is all true. That's because, when you have two evenly matched candidates and an ass-backward nominating process, both sides can make a compelling argument. Therefore, by all of it being reasonable, the effect is that NONE OF IT becomes reasonable. It's all the rhetoric of people who are highly paid to represent their client in the best light. This has the practical effect of a trial right now.

This is why we're not going to be having such a good time of things in the next several months. I agree that you almost certainly can't manufacture a ticket at this point without both Clinton and Obama on it. Both of them have plenty to learn from one another; Obama how to fight hard and appeal to the working class, Clinton how to organize and inspire and bring in new voters. The question, of course, is who is on the top of the ticket. And let's not kid ourselves. This is going to get uglier. Kevin Drum and others have made the case for everyone to chill out, that there's no material relationship between divisive primaries and the general election outcome. Drum used 1968 as an example, but it's a rotten example, because there was a third party taking racist votes from Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson intervened in the race by halting the bombing of Vietnam and floating a peace deal, completely upending the race and nearly giving Humphrey, who became a strident antiwar voice at the end.

The point is that you can't work to define John McCain if you're battling one another, and outside groups can only go so far. I'm heartened that McCain is losing ground among voters in general election matchups, but that's a current snapshot and I'd like to see it again in 7 weeks after a knock-down drag-out in Pennsylvania. The good news is that the nation has a woefully short attention span, and as long as we reach an amicable conclusion this all could be water under the bridge. But there's still an opportunity cost. Letting McCain off the mat is unacceptable, but it's where we're headed.

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