Earlier today, three of the Clintons’ top advisers, Howard Wolfson, Mark Penn and Harold Ickes, held a conference call today with members of the media. We weren’t invited, but Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post was, and he reports here. The Clintonites’ purpose was to argue that Hillary shouldn’t be counted out. Based on Cillizza’s account, they were less than persuasive.
Ickes insisted that, barring an upset in Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania, neither candidate can win a majority without superdelegates. Which means, I guess that party insiders theoretically can steal the nomination from Obama if it comes to that. Which hardly means that they will.
They argued that with John McCain as the Republican nominee, the focus in November will be on national security, so Democrats should lean toward Hillary. That argument would probably sell with Republicans, but with Democrats? Forget about it. Hillary has been playing that tune from the beginning, and we can see where it’s gotten her.
The Clintonites stressed that there are two weeks until the next primaries, so the dynamics of the race could change. Sure, but everything is now going Obama’s way; what is going to happen to make the landscape better, rather than worse, for Clinton?
Which brings us to the critical point: Clinton’s advisers stressed that as front-runner, Obama will be subjected to a new level of scrutiny. They offered their own plagiarism charge, along with a couple of other items, as examples of the problems such scrutiny may bring. The impression that comes through–my words, not Cillizza’s–is that the Clintonites were imploring the press to get busy and find some real dirt on Obama. If “plagiarism” is the best they can do, it appears that the Clinton camp itself doesn’t have any.
I think that’s a fair summary of what it’s come down to: Hillary needs a deus ex machina in the form of a stunning scandal that will blow Obama out of the water. Which is to say, if Hillary’s campaign isn’t dead, it’s on life support.
PAUL adds: The national security point is a microcosm of Clinton’s problem. There are plenty of good arguments to be made against Obama, but these arguments have no resonance among the people who have been enabling Obama to defeat Clinton by large margins in Democratic primaries.
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