Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Patrick Healy of The New York Times runs down the list (as if we don't already know it by heart) of reasons Hillary Clinton is still running. This is one I've never understood:

While Mrs. Clinton believes that winning the nomination is a long shot at this point, she is also staying in the race because, in her experience, electoral politics can be a chaotic and unpredictable enterprise, scandals can emerge from nowhere, and Mr. Obama's candidacy could still suffer a self-inflicted or unexpected wound. Picking up more primary votes and superdelegates could only strengthen her position if the party wants or needs to find an alternative to Mr. Obama.

But why does she have to keep running to make that point?

Hasn't she been the obvious alternative to Obama from the moment this became a two-person race -- and isn't she making herself a less palatable alternative the longer she divisively casts him as unqualified and as the enemy of democracy and of the white working class?

I already hear the cries that it's typical of sexist pigs like me to say a woman should just exit the arena and be quiet. But being shrewd about biding one's time and picking one's shots is a political skill, which means that if Hillary Clinton practiced it expertly, she'd be showing she's a first-rate political strategist, equal (if not superior) to any male pol. She could play the double game much more subtly, floating the notion to inside players that she's still an alternative but not poisoning the minds of a large voting bloc against Obama. (Or, if she's going to keep running, she could remember more than once every few days to say something that hurts John McCain.)

She's not trying to increase her viability as an alternative in the event of an Obama calamity. She's trying to create an Obama calamity.

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