Saturday, February 23, 2008

Be Careful...

"In order to take the village, she will have to destroy it."
Conservative publicist Craig Shirley, on what Hillary has to do to win.

In order to win, Clinton has to take Obama down with something big, something vicious, and keep at it until she destroys him. Where have we heard this advice before? It sounds familiar, but it is what consultants (especially Republicans, but not all) and reportedly some in her own campaign are telling Hillary.

Their logic hardly justifies seven figure fees--it's in a way obvious and stupid. Hillary's chance of winning the nomination is so remote that only something major will provide her the opportunity. And of course, once she does that, the nomination is no longer worth having, because she will have destroyed her chances at election. So if she doesn't do it, she doesn't become President. And if she does it, she doesn't become President, and we get McCain.

Her campaign and its "unaffiliated" 527s are going to throw everything into Texas and Ohio, but in fact there's a limit to how negative they can go--at least for the next 4 days. That's because there's another debate on Tuesday. If they go viciously negative before then, Hillary will get questions about it, and Obama will call her on it. And we saw Thursday how welcoming debate audiences are to negative attacks. So as a practical matter, the debate that she insisted on having will protect her campaign from itself. Allow me to coin a phrase, totally original because my words should be my own: be careful what you wish for--you might get it.

By then the next round of polls will be out--polls taken since Obama's big victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii. The ones we have now, which show Obama at parity in Texas, and cutting most of Hillary's lead in Ohio, were taken mostly before then. There's already one poll (though it's probably an outlyer) that shows Obama with a huge lead in Texas already. If the polls that come out by next Tuesday show Obama with a lead in one or both big states, then anything strongly negative Hillary does will look like the desperation of a defeated candidate.

The choice will be (as one of those pundits put it--Jonathan Alter I believe) does she go out fighting, or does she go out classy? If Obama has a lead in the polls and she even starts to go after him, will party leaders restrain her lest she lose all those new voters Obama is bringing in, or let the Clintons destroy themselves? We'll see. But if the Clintons get truly ugly, it will start Wednesday--six days before voting day (though Texans have already started early voting.)

1 comment:

Internet Editor said...

"Conservative publicist Craig Shirley.."