Feb 24, 2008

February 20, 2008: Slip-Sliding Away, Kicking and Screaming, We Cannot Afford Such Nonsense

With last Tuesday’s crushing defeat in the Wisconsin Primary, the Clinton Campaign appears to be on its last legs. Last week Obama had swept the primaries in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. This week brought huge victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii and the beauty contest in Washington where he had already defeated Clinton in the state-wide caucus. The victory in Hawaii was expected since it was seen as Obama’s home state, but the results from Wisconsin were telling. Obama won 58%-41% sweeping 60 of the state’s 72 counties. He won overwhelming support in the black community, which was expected, but blacks make up only 11% of the state’s population. What is remarkable is that he won nearly two-thirds of the white male vote, and fought Hillary to a near draw, winning 48% of the votes of white women. In addition, for the first time he carried a majority of households earning less than $50,000, a year.

“Slip-sliding away
Slip-sliding away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip-sliding away” ---Paul Simon, “Slip-Sliding Away” www.sing35.com

Last fall when this campaign began in earnest and as America began to pay serious attention to the upcoming election, Hillary Clinton held commanding leads in virtually every demographic, including the Black population. In fact some where openly questioning if Barack was ‘black enough’ to win over their support. Today he stands astride the political landscape supported not only overwhelmingly by the country’s black population but by solid majorities of white men, college educated professionals, working class blue-collar households, Catholics, and union households. His support extends from the city to the suburbs and deep into the white rural landscape of this country. He has become the champion of change reducing Hillary to dwindling majorities among white women and Hispanics. He has now won 10 consecutive primaries and caucuses, and the last several primaries---Maryland, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Nebraska have been landslide victories. He has transcended the great geographical divides within the Democratic Party winning not only in the cities and the countryside but in the Midwest, the North, and the South; he has captured not only urban and suburban America but has reached deep into the lands of corn and cotton.

Yesterday Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in Texas, told his audience that it all comes down to Texas and Ohio. He said that if Hillary wins in both Texas and Ohio she will be the nominee. This was no doubt an attempt to stress the gravity of the situation in order to mobilize the troops, but the Old Jedi, now too long in service to the Empire, still knows how to read the tea leaves of political fortune. He, better than most, knows what the aggregate numbers mean as well as the numbers beneath the numbers. He knows that the Clinton campaign faces not only a stiff uphill battle, by some accounts having to win by nearly 60% in the remaining primaries in order to catch Obama, but that the numbers beneath the surface reveal a growing Obama groundswell. Latest polls show a statistical dead heat in the upcoming contest in Texas, and Hillary’s lead cut to 7 points in Ohio, states where just a few short weeks ago Hillary had commanding double digit leads. It appears, as we approach the endgame that all the president’s men cannot bring about the restoration.

It is doubtful that the Clinton’s will go quietly into the night. More than likely they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the political limelight. Such a spectacle bodes ill for Democratic fortunes, for it will deeply divide the party as it prepares to confront the Republicans in the general election. The upcoming weeks will reveal for all to see the quality of leadership, or lack thereof, as the victor takes the crown and the vanquished accepts defeat and joins the common cause. What needs to be avoided at all costs is a rancorous food-fight from which the party emerges from Denver hopelessly divided and demoralized. The country simply cannot afford a Democratic alternative to the mess the Republicans have made-- and are now seeking to enshrine—to be shattered because one group or the other had missed an historical opportunity. The country’s problems are immense; we simply cannot afford such nonsense.

No comments: