Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hillary's Win: It's Not About the Math

Hillary Pennsylvania

With Hillary Clinton's big win in Pennsylvania last night, the dire hand-wringing among Barack Obama's supporters has submerged below melancholy to the realm of projection and distortion.

Andrew Sullivan calls Hillary's win a triumph of "Rovian-Atwater" politics:

It's worth recalling what this primary came to be about, because of a self-conscious decision by the Clintons to adopt the tactics and politics of the people who persecuted and hounded them in the 1990s. It was indeed in the end about smearing and labeling Obama as a far-left, atheist, elite, pansy Godless snob fraud. That was almost all it came to be about....

Used by Democrats, legitimized by Democrats, embraced by Democrats, the Rove-Atwater gambits have been paid the highest compliment by the Clintons these past few weeks. But a single digit win against a young black man in a polarized race suggests that this compliment was past its sell-by date. It was an act of desperation, and one last grab back to the past. It didn't quite do what it was supposed to do. Nearly, but not quite.

Instead of analysis, Sullivan resorts to his own smears and distortion.

Karl Rove is a winning strategist, perfectly fine with Machiavellian politics. Sullivan wouldn't be complaining if Obama had more experience and actually knew how to run a campaign against the Clinton machine. Instead, Sullivan has to try to minimize Clinton by slighting her decisive victory as only "single-digit." The numbers, of course, have Clinton at 55 to 45 percent over Obama last night, a big double-digit smash if there ever was one!

As the Los Angeles Times put it:

Clinton led Barack Obama 55% to 45%, with 99% of the precincts reporting.
Then we have the New York Times' editorial, which came out early last night, around 8:00pm on the West coast, to dismiss Clinton's win as the "low road":

By staying on the attack and not engaging Mr. Obama on the substance of issues like terrorism, the economy and how to organize an orderly exit from Iraq, Mrs. Clinton does more than just turn off voters who don’t like negative campaigning. She undercuts the rationale for her candidacy that led this page and others to support her: that she is more qualified, right now, to be president than Mr. Obama....

After seven years of George W. Bush’s failed with-us-or-against-us presidency, all American voters deserve to hear a nuanced debate — right now and through the general campaign — about how each candidate will combat terrorism, protect civil liberties, address the housing crisis and end the war in Iraq.
You'll notice now the Times seeks to smear Clinton as the new G.W. Bush.

Clinton, in holding on in Pennsylvania, ran a campaign from the middle, returning to real, centrist foreign policy themes - such as massive retaliation against an Iranian nuclear first-strike - when it matters the most. That's not taking the low road. That's a straight-talk-style of stumping that's precisely needed amid Obama's neo-Carterite foreign policy agenda.

The fact remains that Obama's failed to put away the Democratic nomination. He didn't do it on Super Tuesday. He didn't do in Ohio or Texas, and he didn't do it last night in Pennsylvania.

He's getting to be like Mitt Romney - staking his winning potential on a bunch of small states - while Hillary racks up the big wins in the pedal-to-the-medal heartland states that will decide it all in November.

So, forget that Obama's ahead in pledged delegates, or in the total popular vote (which is a rehash argument from Gore's popular vote "win" in 2000).

It's not about the math anymore. Barack Obama's surge has stalled, and Hillary's perfectly situated to make the case on the grounds of electoral superiority.

As Fred Barnes notes this morning, in his essay, "
Hillary Builds Her Case":

FORGET DELEGATES AND the popular vote for the Democratic presidential nomination. The most important thing Hillary Clinton gained by winning the Pennsylvania primary yesterday was a better argument - indeed, a much better argument.

It is a much better argument, which is why Obamaniacs like Sullivan and the Bush-bashers at NYT have to resort to their mimimizations and smears.

The real numbers that count came in big last night: A 55 percent majority of Pennsylvanians rejected superificialty and transcendence, they rejected allusions to "Rovian" politics and voted both by experience and by their hearts.

Hillary Clinton's got the momentum.

She's already put up
big campaign fundraising numbers in the follow-up to her victory, and we should expect to see a Clinton bump in public opinion in states holding upcoming primaries, especially Indiana, the next crucial test for Obama's working-class appeal.

This Bud's for you, Hillraiser!

See more analysis at

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times