What is the Last Straw?
Every time I think Hillary Clinton or her campaign has done something to destroy her bid for the Democratic nomination, I get surprised by the persistence – stubbornness? – of her supporters. Even if Republican mischief-makers drove Clinton toward a dubious victory in Texas, she still had solid backing from traditional Democratic voters.
So I won’t declare that her recent explanation that she “misspoke” when padding her foreign policy resumé is The End. That’s what I thought about Geraldine Ferraro’s racist comments about Barack Obama, but shortly after Ferraro resigned in a huff, Obama had to contend with controversial statements from his pastor. Granted, the scandal prompted Obama to deliver one of the best speeches delivered by a politician on race relations in America – a definite lemons-into-lemonade trick – so he could count that as a win. But it doesn’t necessarily count as a loss for Clinton; it only makes her struggle more difficult. And for all its transcendent rhetoric, Obama’s speech did not satisfy conservatives, who are sharpening their Anti-American Pastor knives for the Fall, should Obama survive Clinton’s challenge. And she is already using those knives herself.
No, Clinton saying she didn’t inhale sniper fire merely proves that she’s a Clinton. If anything sinks her campaign, it will be the cumulative effect of husband Bill’s bungling in South Carolina; the 3AM red telephone ad; her talking up of John McCain’s foreign policy experience; Ferraro’s cranky self-portrait as a victim of both sexism and reverse-racism; and James Carville’s recent smear of Governor Bill Richardson as a “Judas” for endorsing Obama over Clinton (and refusal to back down.) And the Bosnia thing.
None of these things is the definitive Last Straw, but altogether they will break the camel. I doubt the “Supers” whom Clinton is counting on are going to take kindly to Carville’s trashing of one of the most respected political figures the party has produced in the last twenty years. They may not have nominated Richardson for President, but Democrats across the board value Richardson’s experience as a governor, statesman, and legislator; no one would blink should be become a Veep candidate, or a Secretary of State in a future Democratic administration. Plus, seriously — he’s a nice guy! WTF?
Sure, Carville’s the “Ragin’ Cajun.” Perhaps folks will roll their eyes and move on. But his remarks will be a factor among many that are piling up in Clinton’s deficit column. As many others have noted, Clintons best bet is to utterly destroy Obama’s electability through racist coding, Right wing fear-mongering, and an utter disregard for the rules. Oh, and to destroy the Democratic Party in the process. I’m no Democrat — I tend to view the party as the “good cop” to the Republican “bad cop” of capitalism — but poor folks and historically oppressed groups benefit most from the party’s progressive elements. Another lost election, another four years of McCain-Bushismo, and the party goes the way of the Whigs.
The only upside there is that progressive and centrist parties could arise to fill the void.