Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hillary Won’t Back Down: Loser Wins

Barack Obama’s victory speech was a failure, but only because Hillary Clinton managed to match Mark Antony’s speech after the murder of Caesar. “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,” it begins. From there, Mark Antony turns the tables on the anti-Caesar mob in a speech as eloquent as any in human history until Hillary Clinton came along. Alright, I concede I’ve given way to a bit of hyperbole but isn’t this a year for hyperbole? Barack Obama claimed his grandfather rescued Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz with the Red Army. What could be more hyperbolic?

Anyway, the real impact of Hillary’s speech was felt today, not last night, and this is a clear case of “loser wins”. “What does Hillary want,” she toys with the cheering audience on her side and the dismayed audience on Obama’s side. All over TV Land today, the pundits are wringing their hands at the woman whose power was felt as strongly as that of Cleopatra. Instead of moving ahead with a program, Obama will have to now figure out how to squirm graciously out of the quandary Hillary has presented to his campaign. Dick Morris remarked on a Clinton vice-presidency as a “ménage-a-trois, with Bill Clinton lurking in the wings of the White House. Even without Bill, Hillary would be a presence in any administration. Having proven herself as a brilliant senator from New York, how could she repress herself when she knows so much more than Obama about nearly everything? Chris Matthews had a virtual fit on MSNBC this morning when he asked, face all akimbo, how Hillary could possibly “obey” a president Obama.

“Yes, that’s right….obey…because a vice-president must obey the president,” he said grimly.

An insurmountable problem. Obama needs Hillary far more than she needs him. Having expressed a willingness to “unite the party” by accepting the VP position, Hillary Clinton well positioned for a future presidential run. She has the high ground and a great deal of moral suasion. Obama and his people, on the other hand, have done too much to disparage the Clintons, and now face a Sophie’s choice. They either put Hillary on the ticket to eclipse Obama in order to gain the chance of actually winning the election. Or they reject Hillary Clinton and her ardent supporters and embark on a solipsistic and desperate path of political survival.

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