Thursday, May 08, 2008

Finding the Right Time to End It

I was part of a fascinating conversation last night with a group of engaged and informed Democrats all raking over the details of what happened Tuesday. The consensus of the group was that the primary is basically over now, but the conversation took an interesting turn (I described this in a comment earlier this morning, but then thought it was post-worthy). What fascinated me, and what I would love to hear others' thoughts on was the following observation:

Someone in the group suggested that it would make no sense at all for the Democratic Party to have Hillary drop out of the race now. If she did, there is a fair likelihood that she would still beat Barack in West VA, and also a good chance she would win in Kentucky. The idea being suggested was that it is against the interests of both the party and Obama's candidacy to have Hillary drop out just in time for Barack to lose two of the first three uncontested races. Instead it would look much better for her to stick around and play nice for a couple weeks.

What I found intriguing about this idea is that I think many people are eager to see this whole thing end, to see Hillary change her mind, hold a press conference, and close up shop today. It's been interesting for me to ponder whether she would serve her party better to stick around at least for another week or two. Still, this all ignores the question of whether altruistic thinking like this is at play at all in the Clinton Campaign's considerations this week.

On an interesting side note, check out this post on Talking Points Memo regarding repaying the Clintons for their "loans" to Hillary's campaign (hat tip to Amiercablog where I saw this discussed). I had not heard about this piece of the picture until today, but as one of the 1.5 million small donors to the Obama campaign, I can say with certainty that I never intended my donations to go for paying the Clintons back on the loans that kept Hillary running in spite of inadequate fund raising totals this spring. I find the notion this could possibly happen quite troubling.

Update: Check out a completely dweeby but fascinating discussion of super delegates and primary election math over at SUPERDELEGATELAND.


Manager Mom said...

That's a really interesting theory. I can't see any gain for HC at this point to continue - the longer she goes, surely she will piss off Obama more and make her chances of being his running mate even more remote (if there ever were any).

And you would think that she is still young, and a graceful bowout now before she starts to really engender the ire of the party bigwigs, would be her best shot at a repeat run in 4 or 8 years, depending on how things shake out in the fall.

And the further she goes, the worse both Bill and Hillary look in the public eye... it would be a shame to see their great record of support for civil rights causes, diminished by the perception that they are trying to undermine Barack's candidacy. The more Bill's in the spotlight, the more he just can't seem to help saying stupid things.

John said...

I think you're right, in a certain way. It doesn't seem like there's a big plus for Hillary in sticking it out, except that another two weeks gives her time to think a bunch about how she/her team choreograph her exit. Also, perhaps if she sticks around and in so doing helps Obama, perhaps that curries favor with some of the people she has pissed off with the negative campaign which helps the big picture Clinton institution.

Meanwhile, on the other point you bring up around the Clinton legacy on Civil Rights, etc. I think the damage is already done. Perhaps over time it can be repaired, but their image, especially in the black community seems to be hurting right now. One example that I think could be telling is a scathing post I saw today on Americablog:

I imagine it's possible that the current conversation around Hillary and race-baiting is being shouted about in the political blogosphere in a way that's more loud and angry than correlates to how it's really playing in the real world. I'm not sure that's true, though.

Oh, and I don't think there's a chance she'll be the VP candidate at this point.

Another interesting indicator I can offer is this:
I talked to a friend who voted for Clinton weeks ago. She has admired and respected Hillary for years, and was excited to vote for her. She described to me her feeling that almost every day since she voted (in March, I think) she has felt her respect and excitement for Hillary being systematically broken down and taken away by the ugliness, the negativity and her profound sense of disappointment with the campaign her candidate has waged. Just one person... but an interesting case study, I think.

Venice said...

I don't think that HRC sticking around helps anyone except herself. The longer she is in the race the more her supporters will feel bitter about losing, at least in my opinion. It makes sense if you try to put yourself in their position. I much prefered Joe Biden to Obama or HRC, but he was elimated so early that it's hard to feel resentment. But if he had come so close, only to be beaten by a young upstart with absolutely no foreign policy credentials... well, I'd have a much harder time letting go. Some HRC supporters I've talked to expressed similar feelings. Myself I'd much rather have Obama than Hillary, even before the last few months, but I can see why some of her supporters feel cheated. The best thing for the Democrats right now is for her to end it so they can start uniting. Even the Republicans are starting to get used to the idea that McCain is their nominee. Surely Hillary supporters can adjust to Obama!

Of course, as a McCain supporter, I have mixed feelings about her leaving. She is MUCH more effective at attacking than McCain is. I like the Mac, but can't say I'll be putting any money on him in the fall...

Stamford Talk said...

I find myself feeling WAY more positive about HRC now that it looks like she is on the way out. I admire her toughness. I do not think she is the better candidate though, so my heart is full of happiness that it looks like my brilliant Obama is going to win out.
You guys MUST read his memoir! I admit I did not finish it, but that is because recently, I have the attention span of a flea. All of my free time is spend on the damn computer or in front of my 50 inch television.