Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why stay in the race? J-Pod explains

A lot of pundits have wondered why Hillary is still in this race. It seems like a hopeless slog for her. Hugh Hewitt even complained that "we let her up off the mat" when it was obvious she was sliding into oblivion. Today in Commentary, John Podhoretz explains why she's staying in the race and it makes oodles of sense:

Hillary Clinton is not stupid. She knows perfectly well that she’s not going to catch up with Barack Obama when it comes to delegates or the overall popular vote in the primaries, and that her lead with superdelegates is not at all secure. She’s staying in the race to see what happens — to lengthen it so that there is a chance Obama will implode for some reason or combination of reasons, leaving her to pick up the pieces.

When Hillary and her people talk about Obama’s lack of experience, they are not just talking about foreign policy and Washington voting. They are, implicitly, talking about his lack of experience with a hostile media. He has never been subjected to the withering examination of a reportorial or even punditorial pack — not in his service in the Illinois state senate, not in his 2004 Senate race, and not even when it came to his well-reviewed books. One never, ever knows how someone will hold up under such circumstances, or how quickly a reputation can be damaged.

Obviously, the repulsive statements of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, about how 9/11 represented “the chickens coming home to roost” for “White America” might represent a turning point — and one that would not have happened to benefit Hillary had she seen supposed reason and bowed out when it was clear she couldn’t win on points. Obama is fortunate this week to have had a ju-jitsu victory on the subject of race, parrying a remark about him by Geraldine Ferraro into a “nobody-is-allowed-to-raise-the-subject of-how-I-might-have-benefited-from-my-blackness” moment. That, and the Spitzer scandal, have kept the Wright story from getting full purchase in the media. But it’s out now, and even the extreme queasiness of the press in dealing with material that might be harmful to Obama can’t last forever.

And forever is a long time. The Pennsylvania primary is more than a month away. Maybe more will turn up to cause the superdelegates such concern about November that they will line up behind her foursquare. Politics is a dynamic business.

See, Hillary has faced a hostile media. She's doing it now. And she's doing better than Obama is. He can poo-poo his relationship to his pastor, and even, conveniently, "forget" about his ties to Tony Rezko. But those stories aren't going to go away. They're going to cling to his neck like the proverbial albatross. Toss in the newest story -- regarding a highly questionable earmark -- and Obama doesn't look as clean or pure as he and his supporters contended.

Folks, he's a novice; a rookie. Kevin Costner would appropriately call him "meat". His inexperience goes beyond foreign policy ideas, national security, how the government works, or his inane ideas of what the government should spend money on. His dealings with the press up to this point have been fawning profiles, and journalists who practically drool over him. Recall Chris Matthews and the thrill that went up his leg? Yes, that's the sort of treatment he's received from the media.

Now he's dodging the questions about his pastor, claiming that he doesn't "agree with everything" the man says. When the Chicago Sun-Times journeyed to Texas during "Super Tuesday II" to ask him questions about his ties to Tony Rezko, he stormed off the stage, and snapped at them. "What more do you want? I already answered eight questions." He clearly can't handle media scrutiny when it's not favorable.

Hillary's right to stick around. Not only does it add more fun to an already interesting election cycle. (Let them tear out each other's throats up to the convention in Denver, folks.) It also adds a dimension to a campaign that has already seen it's share of ups and downs for both sides. McCain was dead, down and out until late December. Hillary was seen as all but beaten prior to the assistance of Republicans crossing the lines to hand her three big wins on "Super Tuesday II." And Obama, who once looked to be the presumptive Democrat nominee has had some of that shine knocked off his image in recent weeks.

No, she needs to stay in. If for nothing else than to give McCain some breathing room to hone his message, and decide who his running mate might be. Besides, he still hasn't won over conservatives to his side yet, and he needs to do that. Hillary is giving him the room he needs while she continues to be a thorn in Obama's side.

Publius II


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