Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Morning After

Our long national nightmare is over.

It's been widely reported and confirmed by higher ups in the Clinton campaign that Hillary will acknowledge reality on Saturday, and endorse Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee. And late Wednesday comes a letter from Clinton herself confirming this.

The end came today, and the coup de grace was dealt by her own supporters. First the New York congressional delegation, led by Charlie Rangel (who later went public) told her that her speech last night was a mistake, and that they wanted to endorse Obama immediately, and she should do the same. Then, according to Howard Fineman of Newsweek/Keith, a group of 8 Senators who'd supported her told her in a conference call that the time to endorse Obama is now--a call initiated by higher ups in her campaign.

All this was after negative reactions to her speech, and her attempt to muster her supporters (which led to racist remarks to at least one black Obama congressional endorser's office) and some rebellion in her ranks (Hillary Rosen: "I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat."

The writing was on the wall by the time Clinton and Obama literally crossed paths after he spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and before she did. Especially as he was accompanied by Rahm Emmanuel, who'd been for Clinton but had endorsed Obama just hours earlier.

And the flood of endorsements continued today, including former Clinton supporters Senator Barbara Boxer and Rep. Maxine Waters. Here's one list, and here's another (neat picture.)

Along with the collapse of Clinton's support came a collapse of talk about her being VP. Obama appointed three people to begin the selection process--the surprise being Caroline Kennedy. Apparently she's been advising as well as appearing onstage for awhile now. Update on this point--E.J. Dionne saying at greater length and probity in Thursday's Washington Post what was said here Tuesday night:" Hillary Clinton talked her way out of the vice presidency on Tuesday night. Barack Obama may never have intended to make her the offer. But Clinton's largely self-focused non-concession speech suggested that what some call a dream ticket could turn into a nightmare.

But gaining the vice presidency by invoking leverage just can't work. It makes the presidential candidate look weak. It breaks in advance the trust that running mates need. It can only presage conflicts and power struggles in a new administration. Hillary Clinton is an enormously talented public servant. Many who ended up supporting Obama once hoped to support her. But Clinton's political future requires her to accept that Obama has prevailed, that the primary campaign is over and that graciousness in defeat can, paradoxically, be turned into the most powerful leverage of all. "

Meanwhile, the historic nature of Obama's nomination was especially recognized and applauded abroad:

From hundreds of supporters crowded around televisions in rural Kenya, Obama's ancestral homeland, to jubilant Britons writing "WE DID IT!" on the Brits for Barack discussion board on Facebook, people celebrated what they called an important racial and generational milestone for the United States.

"This is close to a miracle. I was certain that some things will not happen in my lifetime," said Sunila Patel, 62, a widow encountered on the streets of New Delhi. "A black president of the U.S. will mean that there will be more American tolerance for people around the world who are different."

Unless he decides to show up at the Hillary event Saturday, Obama is taking the weekend off. It's about time for this blog to take some time off, too. In fact, to slow down for the near future. So my handful of regular visitors should expect a weekly rather than daily report, as events warrant and the spirit moves.

It's been fun playing pundit, fun seeing that I did it pretty well, often enough anticipating news points and judgments, as well as catching the gist as well as the drift of events. But time to turn to other, harder follies for awhile.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

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The Big Night

And suddenly there was a flood. Nobody has yet reported the sequence or the names, but around the time that the networks declared Obama the presumptive nominee (which was immediately after South Dakota polls closed, and he only needed a few delegates) the flood-gates of super d's opened. NBC's final count for the day was 59.5, with Clinton losing 3. That put him well over the top, even past the number he would have needed had Michigan and Florida been seated with full delegates. There are likely to be more on Wednesday.

Obama's speech was exciting, and aimed more at the general election public than in looking back on the campaign. He had apparently watched the earlier McCain speech, and was already responding to it, and he reportedly watched Clinton's speech, which may be why he looked to me a bit annoyed. (Or maybe it was just me, because I was seriously annoyed.) Ambinder suggested he was close to tears, and I did catch some of that vibe, too. "Obama thanked his grandmother above all else; without her, he said, none of this would have been possible. She is white, of course. The explicit message is obvious. The implicit message: this thing, this event, is much more than just a step for racial equality."

And as Joe Klein wrote, "His graciousness made Hillary Clinton's lack of grace--and lack of realism about her fate--seem unworthy of her and rather small."

Fortunately, newspapers around the world could care less about Clinton: their headlines were all about Obama. The nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.

Final note on the primaries: Though South Dakota will show as a 10 point win for Clinton, that amounts to about a ten thousand votes difference. Obama's 16 point win in Montana represents a difference of more than 25,000 votes.
Demented Narcissist For VP?

I don't want to white privilege this by posting it at the top, but it's impossible not to note how Hillary ended the primary season the way she has conducted it since Iowa: with utter lack of grace, decency, truthfulness, and with what Jeffrey Toobin on CNN called her "demented narcissism."

On the night that should have been Obama's, much of the talk was about her speech, her refusal to acknowledge what the rest of the world knew (her speech very symbolically in a room two floors below street level, where no TV, radio or cell phone signals could penetrate), and her preposterous message of telling supporters to go to her web site and tell her what they think she should do. Face reality, maybe? Be a Democrat? Actually try to get all that good things you supported done by backing the only candidate who will do them?

Her denial and her selective reality began when she called South Dakota the last primary. It was the last primary, of course, because it's the last one she's won. She doesn't acknowledge the existence of primaries (like the actual last one, in Montana) that Obama has won. And it went on from there.

Contrast the graciousness and the humility of Barack Obama's speech in St. Paul, before 17,000 in the arena plus another 15,000 outside. It's no wonder that Obama supporters, both insiders and small donors, are horrified at the idea of Hillary being the VP candidate. She is the anti-Obama, in more ways that one.

And she might actually have had a chance, if she had been a tiny bit gracious tonight, and given Obama his due. (She complimented his campaign, in the manner of a not particularly gracious victor.) But she wasn't gracious or generous or even just, and she sounds like she's trying to blackmail him into naming her VP, which would be a total disaster for him if he did. And his supporters now really won't stand for it.

Hillary Clinton may be a shining symbol to some women (even though she's apparently intent on making sure no other woman is named VP but her, hardly a principled feminist stance), but as far as I'm concerned she's a disgrace.
The Big Day

The exciting conclusion posted above...

5:30: Obamagic Number is 9.

5pm: The NBC count is Obamagic Number at 11. CNN has it at 9.

3pm: Now it's a done deal. NBC reports that the Obamagic Number is 14. He's sure to get more delegates than that from today's primaries. And people are really pissed that Clinton is horning in on the headlines today.

2:30 p. Pacific: Obama Clinches Nomination--headline from the AP. Unfortunately the other half is Clinton open to VP. NBC reports a conversation between Clinton and New York congressional delegation in which she said as much, and also that she will not be conceding tonight.

Also the "flood" of super-delegates is not likely to happen until the polls close, and even later in the week--there's an awful lot of deference being paid to Clinton. It's good riddance as far as I'm concerned, and if she and her manic idiot staff go on a campaign for vp I'm going to throw up.

Also it's not clear what numbers the AP is using (though other sources are anticipating leaked endorsements to come after polls close) because with today's semi-flood of super d's so far, the Obamagic Number is 27.5. At least 10 more are going to have to declare to seal the deal by the time Obama speaks tonight.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Big Day Before

So here's the buzz: Hillary may (or may not) suspend her campaign tomorrow evening (Tuesday), in a speech in New York. Signs are strong that she is finishing her campaign, but I rate a concession tomorrow as doubtful. I think it is more likely Wednesday in Washington. But signs are that it is coming, though with the Hillaryites, you can never be sure.

The buzz is also that Obama campaign is trying to get enough super d's to declare tomorrow so he will be able to declare that he's passed the Obamagic Number for the nomination when Montana and South Dakota delegates are counted. How close is he? The NBC count gives Obama 4 super d's today, moving his Obamagic number to 39.5.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of the House leadership is declaring for Obama tomorrow, and is actively calling other super d's to do the same. Chuck Todd reports the rumors that some 34 House members and a dozen to 17 Senators are set to endorse Obama this week, most of them by Wednesday. But how many tomorrow? Obama is expected to get about 17 delegates from the two contests tomorrow. If he gets at least 23 super d's during the day and evening, then he can declare victory.

Buzz is also that Obama and Clinton have talked, and that their staffs have started talking. But if Clinton is serious about doing all she can to help Obama win, she will concede tomorrow so he can use the national audience he will get to start the general election campaign, as the presumptive candidate of a uniting party. But it is much more likely that the Hillaryites will serve her ego, and Bill's, and glorify themselves tomorrow, then concede quietly a day or a week later.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Eyes on the Prize

11 p. The Obama site is calling the Obamagic Number: 46.

6p. Pacific Sun: With two new supes and a projected 17 delegates from Puerto Rico, the Obamagic Number is 46.5 (though NBC has it at 45.5 with Obama credited with just 15 P.R. delegates. So it may be 43.5.)

I'm going to try to avoid saying vile things about the serial liars and general assholes of the Clinton campaign, up to and including the candidate, and keep my eyes on the prize. Gee, it's really working so far.