Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"So what did I miss?"

A good place to begin is with an apology for an extended absence from my place of duty here, a particularly grievous act given the importance of "Super-Duper" Tuesday and the subsequent primaries last week. I balanced that duty to the faithful readers of this blog against the chance to spend nearly a week away from the frozen tundra of Chicago - albeit on extremely short notice - decamping to sunny Anaheim. (The fact that my beloved and I were able to do so on someone else's dime made the opportunity irresistible.)

I am confident that the faithful few were able to find "thoughtful conservative commentary" elsewhere, but I am sensitive to the responsibility with which I have been entrusted. In consideration thereof, I tender my sincerest apologies for my being AWOL.

That said, let us review.

As we are doubtless aware, Patti Solis Doyle has been relieved of the equally thankless and Sisyphean task of making Hillary Clinton look like a reasonable presidential candidate. A statement by Sen. Clinton thanked Solis Doyle for her
"friendship and her outstanding work
." Hillary's press release notwithstanding, there are published reports to the effect that Solis Doyle was on what an unnamed Clinton staffer speaking to the Chicago Tribune described as "borrowed time."

"What happened [Sunday] would have happened the day after New Hampshire had we lost," one knowledgeable source said, adding that others may soon follow Solis Doyle's departure.

Initially, [Clinton confidant Maggie] Williams was brought in to run the campaign even though Solis Doyle was still there. The result was confusion for the staff, who weren't sure who was really in charge, the source said.

But even more troublesome was the campaign's money crunch. Over the last seven years, Clinton had raised $175 million for her re-election and her presidential campaign. But Solis Doyle didn't tell Clinton that there was next to no cash on hand until after the New Hampshire primary.

"We were lying about money," the source said. "The cash on hand was nothing."
Along with concealing the Clinton campaign's cash crunch, Solis Doyle presided over a significant shift in momentum to Sen. Barack Obama. After making a clean sweep of last weekend's contests, he is expected to run the table in Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland, with tonight's wins giving Obama his first lead since Iowa in both total and pledged delegates.

While dumping Solis Doyle in a shallow grave may staunch the Clinton camp's bleeding, it will not end the casualties. As of earlier today, Mike Henry "resigned" as deputy campaign manager. Associated Press reporting indicates that it is unclear whether Henry was "forced out," but does suggest that his main offense as the architect of Team Clinton's field strategy was authoring a memo - subsequently leaked to the press - that urged Clinton not to compete in Iowa, "our consistently weakest state." The memo became public just as Clinton was ramping up her organization in Iowa.

It's also not clear how removing the first Hispanic to run a presidential campaign will enhance Clinton's position with her new favorite minority group, Latinos having contributed to her wins in Nevada and California. Hispanic lawmakers in Clinton's "home state" and elsewhere are questioning Solis' departure, commenting that Clinton may be "
playing with fire with the Hispanic community." The timing of Solis Doyle's exit could not be worse, as Hillary will be relying heavily on Hispanic turnout as she heads into an important contest in delegate-rich Texas.

So as we might expect, Clinton & Clinton (and Clinton) have been busy smiling and dialing to get commitments from Democrat "superdelegates"; Sen. Clinton's ability to secure the nomination may yet depend on the extent that she is able to co-opt her fellow insiders. But any lead that she may currently hold among superdelegates is ephemeral. All but the most sycophantic Clinton supporters will defect to Obama should he come to Denver with the most pledged delegates. (One of the soon-to-materialize ironies of the 2008 primary season would be that Hillary ends up guilty of as much political chicanery as President Bush was accused of in order to "steal" the 2000 election.)

Obama's eight wins in a row (to include the U.S. Virgin Islands) have confirmed several bits of now-unconventional wisdom (all of which will come to the media's remembrance when Sen. Clinton's campaign crashes to earth, either before or after the Democratic convention.) Clinton remains an unlikeable person, and thus an unelectable candidate. Ersatz "experience" aside, she comes across as exactly what she is: shrill, inauthentic, ambitious to Shakespearean proportions and - as the Solis Doyle situation demonstrates - loyal to no one but herself.

Up to this point, her support has come largely from Hispanics, women and blue-collar whites, groups that are most likely to flee elsewhere when her campaign crashes into the looming iceberg of Obama's ascendant candidacy, in as they have as little to gain as to lose either way. For the GOP, the order of dispatch remains as it ever was: Hillary now, Obama in November.

Four More Years!

P.S.: For what it's worth, I will also be away from this lowly seat during the coming Republican National Convention. As fate has it, I will also be someplace sunny that week (although Marco Island will probably be a little too warm and sunny by that time.)

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