I’m a loser but …

From politico.com:

Senator Barack Obama picked up steam with a ninth straight victory in Wisconsin, beating Senator Hillary Clinton in a state where she had no clear excuse for defeat.

Note that phrase, “no clear excuse for defeat”.

Here’s a point that I haven’t seen anywhere else. The message coming from the Clinton campaign boils down to this:  “I’m a loser but …”.

  • I’m a loser but it’s only because of the black vote.
  • I’m a loser but caucus states are undemocratic.
  • I’m a loser but Obama spent more money in that state than I did.
  • I’m a loser but a lot of those states held open primaries (where independents and even some Republicans cast a ballot for Obama).
  • I’m a loser but Obama has won a lot of “red” states that aren’t going to vote for any Democratic candidate in the general election.
  • I’m a loser but those states (except Illinois) aren’t significant.
  • I’m a loser but Illinois is Obama’s home state, so that one doesn’t really count.
  • I’m a loser but the delegates from Michigan and Florida ought to be seated.

What’s the objective of this litany of excuses? Clinton is trying to give superdelegates a rationale for supporting her, despite Obama’s clear lead in pledged delegates.

But the message that actually emerges is, “I’m a loser”.

I have been repeatedly surprised by what a poor campaign Clinton is waging. I keep expecting her to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but it simply isn’t happening. Perhaps the most striking example of incompetence is this:  her team discovered, earlier this month, how delegates will be chosen in Texas:

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates.

If you’re a Clinton supporter, the Texas process stinks — no doubt about it. But here’s the thing:  for weeks, Clinton has been banking on a big win in Texas (also in Ohio). She effectively ceded ten consecutive states to Obama. And now, belatedly, her team has “discovered” that Texas isn’t the firewall they assumed.

Whoopsie!

I don’t mean to take anything away from Obama. He couldn’t have caught Clinton, even given her unforced errors, without running an extremely impressive campaign himself. But Obama wouldn’t have amassed a commanding lead at this point without Clinton’s unwitting assistance.

I really thought this campaign would continue beyond March 4 — conceivably all the way to the Democratic Party’s national convention on August 25. But now? I think it’s already over, even before March 4.

It’s over, in part, because Obama has built up a commanding lead among pledged delegates. In part, because Obama has all the momentum, and people are attracted to the candidate who looks like a winner. In part, because Obama is continuing to raise money at a ferocious rate, allowing him to outspend Clinton in every state. In part, because Clinton’s core demographic groups are on the move — into Obama’s camp. In part, because John McCain has now repeatedly attacked Obama, solidifying his status as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

In part, because Clinton has taken on the mantle of “loser” in this campaign — as explained above. Finally:  in part, because Clinton continues to run a stupid campaign:

It’s astounding that the Clinton campaign has, in essence, wasted an enormous amount of senior staff time on trying to spin reporters and bloggers about superdelegates. The only way they could possibly persuade superdelegates to rally around the Clinton cause would be to start putting some convincing wins together. …

Persuade some people to vote for you!

In sum:  Clinton is running a campaign that guarantees she will lose — albeit with a lot of excuses.

I predict that Obama will win the popular vote in either Texas or Ohio, and then do the same thing in Pennsylvania. We have reached the mopping-up stage of the Democratic nomination process.

• Update re Texas:

Clinton told reporters over the weekend that her aides were still struggling to understand how the state operates.

“I’ve got people trying to understand it as we speak,” she said. “Grown men are crying as we speak. I had no idea it was so bizarre.”

But surely her team should have figured it out before they put all of their eggs into that particular basket!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Random
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 08:48:20

    “What’s the objective of this litany of excuses? Clinton is trying to give superdelegates a rationale for supporting her, despite Obama’s clear lead in pledged delegates.

    But the message that actually emerges is, “I’m a loser”.”

    Excellent summary. Though there’s also a flavour of what a (sadly probably apocryphal) previous candidate is supposed to have said to a staffer in a previous campaign, “There’s no such thing as an unmitigated disaster – now get out there and mitigate!” There’s certainly a great deal of mitigation going on here…

    “I really thought this campaign would continue beyond March 4 — conceivably all the way to the Democratic Party’s national convention on August 25. But now? I think it’s already over, even before March 4.”

    At the risk of saying I told you so, but I was describing Clinton as roadkill the day after super Tuesday, while you were still quoting Andrew Sullivan describing her as the marginal favorite:-)

    “Update re Texas:…

    But surely her team should have figured it out before they put all of their eggs into that particular basket!”

    Quite. The only explanation that even remotely makes sense is that the Clintons just assumed they’d have it wrapped up on super Tuesday and so didn’t even need to look at the later states, so there was no money, no planning, no organisation, no nothing set aside for the post super Tuesday campaign and they’ve been frantically playing catch up ever since – and this from the candidate who made competence and organisation her key campaign theme! In reality of course they should have been making contingency plans since Iowa at the very latest, the fact they weren’t really tells you all you need to know about her actual competence and organisational skills.

    Reply

  2. Bridgett
    Feb 21, 2008 @ 09:39:24

    How Texas works?? “I had no idea it was so bizarre.” Ha. As a former TExan, that makes me laugh all by itself.

    They never had a plan. They thought it would be wrapped up long ago. Texas’ primary didn’t matter. Because the WORLD OWES CLINTON THIS!!! IT’S HER TURN!!!! WHY CAN’T ANYONE SEE IT THAT WAY??

    ;^)

    Reply

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