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Story Archives: Sutherlin: Hillary Quit? You Must be Crazy!
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|Sutherlin: Hillary Quit? You Must be Crazy!|
Following another round of steamrolling victories by Barack Obama, many in the media began to ask aloud (finally), "In order to unite the Democratic Party should Hillary concede the nomination?"
I say why should she?
Look at what she has had to endure to get here. Crying in public. Interns. Standing by her man. And living in Little Rock before they had a TCBY.
And that is only the stuff we know about!
Billary (that is where you combine Bill and Hillary to get Billary, so don't email to tell us we spelt it wrong) would be crazy to concede anything at this point. Based on the delegate count, including committed Superdelegates, Obama has 67 percent of what is needed to secure the nomination. Hillary has 63 percent. Assuming that she does well on March 4th, where Texas and Ohio are the big prizes, the Democrats could spend the rest of March and most of April before another major contest, Pennsylvania, comes along. Even then, it is unlikely to be settled.
Texas and Ohio have been described by the Hillary camp as her campaign 'firewall'. However, Obama is clipping at her heels in the Lone Star state. The Billary Machine has had to stoop (Question: Is it really stooping if you actually dwell there in the first place?) to gutter politics by circulating inflammatory emails, photos and rumors about Obama to dissuade voters from supporting him, especially among Latinos.
Whether this is the last act of a desperate campaign or the first Act of Henry V, it is hard to tell. The trouble as I see it: Obama has become a media/political celebrity. Increasingly, Obama is becoming an adjective (i.e., Obamaniacs). How many of Obama's supporters can explain his position on abortion? Gun control? Immigration? Taxes?
"But, this election is about change!"
"We need new blood!"
"Its time for change!"
What do all these empty slogans mean? Where is the substance? Just as Mondale asked Hart in 1984, "Where's the beef?"
I have another word for you: Barack-lash.
The closer voters get to understanding Obama on the issues, the less many of them will stay enthused. So far, though, he has done a remarkable job of shielding his voting (and lack of voting record) while offering inanities of hope and platitudes of change.
Hillary, on the other hand, whether you agree with her or not, can speak in depth about a wide range of issues. Granted, she suffers from the 'lets see which way the political winds are blowing before I offer a policy recommendation' syndrome that crippled Bill. But she has experience that far eclipses anything seen so far from the Obama campaign.
I think Barack's appeal says more about voters just wanting anything different. I think there is a presumption that a system producing twenty years of either a Bush or a Clinton must be broken. And, Obama is about as different, at least in their minds, as it gets from this conked out arrangement.
Maybe history can teach us a lesson here. In 1972, Richard Nixon was able to beat George McGovern, an extremely liberal Democrat, despite being in Vietnam and presiding over a struggling economy. McGovern had been labeled the candidate of 'acid, amnesty and abortion' and ultimately lost every state except Massachusetts.
After this embarrassing defeat, the Democrats changed their nominating process (enter Superdelegates!) to reduce the likelihood that a far-left candidate would emerge with the Party's nomination. An argument could be made that Dukakis in 1988 was the exception.
So what does all this mean?
It is possible that neither Hillary nor Obama could lock in enough delegates before the August convention in Denver and the entire process could be thrown into a brokered convention. In fact, if March 4th does not yield a clear front-runner, then this scenario becomes especially likely. This spells trouble for Democrats. That is unless you are still hoping that Al Gore could save the day.
By the way, the last time a brokered convention produced a winner for the Democrats was 1932 --- Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Is Al Gore the equivalent to FDR? Hardly.
So will Hillary bow out gracefully?
Why should she? Hillary has won California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and New York. In the general elections she could probably carry all of these states. What state has Obama won could he carry in the general elections? Probably Delaware and Maryland.
Don't get me wrong: I think McCain is vulnerable as any Republican candidate would be in 2008.
But Democrats were hoping to have a nominee by now. Instead, they look like they are preparing for the 1968 convention.
John W. Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He can be reached by e-mailing Sutherlin@ulm.edu.