Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dems 2008: Defeat from the jaws of victory?

When I placed my bet in Dean Barnett's "John McCain Dead Pool" last May, I went long:

January 20th, 2009 -- simultaneous with taking his hand off the Bible and thanking the Chief Justice.

Barnett? Smug. Me? Facetious. I did think that McCain would end up with the GOP's presidential nomination, but I didn't think he had a prayer of winning in November. Now it's starting to look like I may end up with the prize (one of Hugh Hewitt's doorstops paperweights books).

A new CNN poll shows McCain in a dead heat with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for the presidency. A new Gallup poll gives him high favorables in his own party compared to Clinton's and Obama's favorables in their party.

How did we get from "whomever the Democrats nominate will romp in 2008" to "wow, the Republicans may not be quite dead after all?" I can name that tune in two notes: Hillary Clinton.

If Clinton gave a tinker's damn about the Democratic Party's prospects, she would have taken the stage at some point during her ten-primaries-in-a-row losing streak and announced her withdrawal. She would have thrown her support behind Obama and turned him loose to campaign like John McCain is campaigning now: As the nominee apparent of his party.

Thing is, Hillary Clinton doesn't give a tinker's damn about the Democratic Party's prospects as such. To her, the party is nothing more or less than a taxicab: Its sole purpose, as she sees it, is to take her where she wants to go (in this case, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). And if it won't take her there, she's perfectly happy to run the meter and empty the gas tank rather than let it take someone else there.

It's looking more and more likely that the Democratic nomination contest will go all the way to a convention bloodbath -- and if it does, "dead heat" will be a fond memory. Hell, give McCain five months of free play and Reagan versus Mondale 1984 will be a fond memory. If Clinton lets that happen, she can title her post-campaign memoir It Takes a Village Idiot.

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