Monday, June 02, 2008

Last exit to graceland; or, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Someone call Yogi Berra. Hillary's ripping him off.

Here's what she told reporters en route to South Dakota last night: "It is not over 'til it's over."

Thanks for the clarification.

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She prefaced that remark with this: "My political obituary has yet to be written, and we're going forward."

Well, of course, she's going forward to Montana and South Dakota, the last two primaries. That's correct.

But beyond that? -- "I'm sort of a day-at-a-time person, and we'll see when Tuesday and the day after Tuesday comes."

Thanks for the un-clarification.

Understand, though, that no one is talking about her "political obituary." No one is suggesting that this loss means the end of her political career.

On the contrary, she remains a powerful and influential political figure with a bright future -- in the Senate, running for president again, whatever.

There's no all-or-nothing here, and many of us who have opposed her (more because we supported Obama than because we disliked her) hope she remains a leading figure in the party.

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Speaking of her still-bright political future, Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported yesterday that "[Hillary] will be offered a dignified exit from the presidential race and the prospect of a place in [Obama]'s cabinet under plans for a 'negotiated surrender' of her White House ambitions being drawn up by Senator Obama's aides."

Specifically, according to one Democratic strategist with ties to the Obama campaign, "[s]he will get something to do with health care, a cabinet post or the chance to lead the legislation through the Senate."

Which makes sense, though I'm not sure a cabinet post -- Secretary of Health and Human Services? -- would be the best fit for her.

And she won't be Obama's running mate. Period.

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Today's reports from Hillaryland are, well, unclear.

The NYT is reporting that Hillary is weighing her options -- which, presumably, are a) get out on Tuesday; b) get out soon; c) fight on as a matter of (Clintonian) principle while more or less conceding; and d) take the fight all the way to the convention without conceding.

The AP is reporting that she's still targeting the superdelegates, including those that have committed to Obama: "One thing about superdelegates is that they can change their minds," she also said en route to South Dakota. Which is true -- if not exactly a stirring campaign strategy. (Why would they change their minds? Because she tells them to?)

The LAT is reporting that she may soon lose some of her key supporters -- especially if Obama passes the 2,118 delegate-threshold, which could happen tomorrow.

So what's really going on?

Hillary is preparing to drop out of the race. It may not be tomorrow, but it will be soon.

The Politico's Ben Smith reports: "Members of [Hillary]'s advance staff received calls and emails [yesterday] evening from headquarters summoning them to New York City Tuesday night, and telling them their roles on the campaign are ending."

The results will be coming in from Montana and South Dakota, but Hillary will be in New York. After a long and sometimes bitter campaign that has been short on grace, especially since she started losing, we're about to get her long-awaited graceful exit from the race she was once expected to win.

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