There are two reasons I don’t watch the Democrat candidates debating. One is I dislike Hillary Clinton and would hate to find myself suddenly thinking good thoughts about her over something she said. The other is I like Obama and would hate to find myself suddenly thinking bad thoughts about him over something he said. I don’t agree with the guy’s politics at all, but I have plenty of friends in that category, and I find him to be a really appealing personality.
Which is a big part of why I have been cheering lustily every time Obama wins a hand in the huge national poker game between him and Clinton. He has been knocking down one pot after another, although the likelihood is not strong that he will be the last man standing. In fact, if he really succeeds in bringing Hill down off the mountaintop, the likelier scenario is that Edwards would slip past both of them, him being the guy who ran once for veep and presumably a seasoned major-leaguer.
For right now, we are watching a fascinating tableau, one I would not miss for the world. Hillary Clinton is playing the heavy and this young guy Obama, smooth without being smarmy like Edwards, is shining the light. Her campaign is up to all the old tricks but they are all boomeranging. This was not the way it was supposed to play.
It used to be that a Clinton dirty trick was a magic bullet, hitting its target and leaving no traceable markings. Look at the style they have employed with Obama. Leaking to Robert Novak that they have the goods on Barack but they are holding back from putting him on the rack. Dropping e-mails about his Muslim connections. Expressing concern that Republicans might capitalize on his drug history for attacks. Even spreading the word that he said in third grade he wanted to be President. All couched in evasions constructed to assure plausible deniability.
This kind of dodge no longer works in the world of the blogger. The word hits the street almost instantaneously, before the ink is dry on the computer page. The reporters who usually give the Clintons leeway to smear their opponents with impunity have also decided not to get out of the way for her to step on a black candidate’s opportunity. (The fact that the last sentence is a rhyming quatrain does not mean I was poking fun at Jesse Jackson.)
Well, if you can’t get much traction out of the actual scandal publicizing by proxy, the game is to be the big person who tries for mileage from squelching the untoward behavior by loose cannons in the campaign. Get it? You get a chance to be the big person by firing the goon you yourself sent out with the sandbag into the dark alley.
So now we read they are all resigning. The Muslim e-mailers, gone. The drug leakers, gone. Shaheen, the First Man of New Hampshire, will get up and give his co-chair back to the lady. Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. Except how much you wanna bet they all are working for the campaign same as ever, just musical-chaired over into a less visible perch.
Not that Clinton has no more aces up her ample sleeve. Look for David Gergen to join the campaign any day now as the fairness ombudsman. Or maybe George Mitchell, just coming off his moralistic victory lap around the baseball diamond. And look for the next scandal she leaks to be the biggest she has in her arsenal. There is no point saving it up for the Big One; the future is now.
Of course in the real world of politics, nice guys finish last. Having Oprah on your side is a huge boost, especially since Hillary has not yet landed the Dr. Phil nod. Obama has done a great job of making a cool, fun race out of it, and Republicans have to start biting their nails in advance of his 2012 Man-Of-Experience rerun. Blacks in America may be kicking themselves for coining the term African-American, only to see it usurped by a guy whose father was African, his mother white American. One way or another, this man will be a force in American politics for years to come. Let us pray that he has a political epiphany to make him a conservative and then change parties.