Hillary Clinton came out of the Potomac Primaries in roughly the same position as Mike Huckabee: needing a miracle. Unless she wins the Texas and Ohio primaries next week nothing short of divine intervention will deliver the nomination to her. After losing eleven straight primaries (even Democrats abroad don’t like her) she is down to a final roll of the dice on March 4. Polls show her with a small lead in Ohio and essentially tied in Texas, but slipping fast in both must win states.
This week she turned up the heat on Barack Obama in a final attempt to save her faltering campaign. She aimed to show he was an unknown, untested candidate who failed to observe a cardinal rule of international travel — never put on a funny looking outfit over a polo shirt. (A photo of Barack Obama in Somalian garb was released, supposedly by a Clinton staffer.) She gave a foreign policy address contending he was foolhardy to be “penciling in” dictators on the White House calendar. She promised, “I will not broadcast intentions to take unilateral actions in a country like Pakistan.” (Iraq is a different matter, presumably.)
All this was part of her last push to demonstrate that Obama would be an easy target for John McCain. (She, along with Bill Keller of the New York Times, will be getting a dozen roses from him for their efforts in bolstering his conservative support.)
However, Democratic voters seemed skeptical of the proposition that she would fare better against McCain in the general election. After all, every national poll and many polls in key swing states showed Clinton doing worse than Obama against McCain. Moreover, only the dimmest of primary voters could have missed the fact that Republicans have been pining for a match up against the Clintons — both of them. What better way to fire up the base and to make McCain the fresher of the two nominees?
The Tuesday Ohio debate did nothing to change the trajectory of the race. With Tim Russert helping to pin her to the mat, there no sign that Hillary can convince voters there was any reason to abandon Obama — who had the temerity to call foul on her proclivity to claim all the credit but none of the blame for the Clinton presidency. If the best she could do was to wag her finger at Obama for not holding more oversight hearings (we know how important those are), final defeat looms next week.
Even a group of Clinton’s closest friends — the MSM — has been openly urging her to quit the race and move beyond the dream of recapturing the White House. Perhaps crashing the Democratic Party bus even before the nominee is officially selected is not such a good idea, they suggest. After all, there is more to life than the presidency, as Clinton herself said in the Austin debate last week, right?
Granted she may need a twelve-step program to get over her White House addiction. Nevertheless, a loss in the primary would open a world of opportunities for her. First, she could get a new job. Yes, she already has steady employment, but being just the junior senator from New York seems rather mundane after jetting around the country and being greeted by throngs (ok, maybe just modest-sized groups) of adoring voters.
What about taking Harry Reid’s job? There’s a man who has accomplished even less than Barack Obama and who has driven Congress’ approval numbers even lower than the President’s. Surely Clinton could persuade her colleagues (in exchange for her refraining from incinerating their party’s presidential chances) to give her the Senate Majority spot.
Ending her presidential campaign actually may come as a relief to her. It can’t be fun to see the Hollywood crowd brush by her or girls faint at the feet of the new star of the Democratic Party. (She got quite enough of that, thank you, in her years in the White House.). Only after leaving the rigors of the campaign can trail can she get away from the incessant second guessing and the squabbling — by sending Bill out of the country. Maybe permanently. Most Americans don’t mind divorced presidents, just ones with spouses who make more headlines than they do.
Now many suspect that the Clintons were hardly crushed when John Kerry’s candidacy failed, and failed so poorly as to disqualify him from a future run. Hope springs eternal in Hillaryland that a similar fate will befall Obama. Then she will be there in full nagging wife mode with an “I told you so” lecture on how it never pays to send an unqualified, ultra-liberal up against the Republicans — at least one not named Clinton.
So, like Richard Nixon, we may not have Hillary to kick around anymore. Still, it would be a mistake to assume she is gone for good. Be forewarned. If you remember the “New Nixon” of 1968, you won’t be surprised by the New Hillary in 2012 (or 2016).