Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Last Super Tuesday: Montana, South Dakota, and the end of the Democratic presidential race

By Michael J.W. Stickings


Okay, let's get right to it:

8:25 pm - The media are really trying to milk this, aren't they? I know why they do it, and I know that sensationalism sells, and I know it's all about the drama of it all, however manufactured, but come on. Obama has "effectively clinched" the nomination -- it was clear well before today, but there's a new AP delegate tally -- but CNN, for example, with Wolf hyping it up in The Situation Room, is breathlessly counting down the number of delegates Obama needs to reach the magic number of 2,118. As I write this, he needs 4. It was 6, then 5, then 4, each step BREAKING NEWS, and it could change... momentarily!

8:34 pm - Honestly, there's hardly any genuine drama tonight, if any. Obama will win Montana and perhaps also South Dakota, but the race is over. For Hillary, the question isn't what to do -- drop out, that is -- but when to do it. It won't be tonight, from what Hillaryland is saying, but it will be soon, and there have been countless clues to that effect. (Over the past couple of days, I've posted at length on this here and here.)

8:39 pm - Superdelegates are surging to Obama. Said one of Hillary's more prominent supporters, Sen. Dianne Feinstein: "I think after the campaigns are wrapped up today, it is in fact a moment of truth." Even Hillary extremist Terry McAuliffe knows it's time to give in to reality.

8:43 pm - And so now the next stage of the campaign begins: Putting Hillary on the ticket as Obama's running mate. Personally, I'm against this. I may change my mind, but I don't think Obama, who stands for hope and change, needs the Clintons dragging him down. Far better for Hillary to remain in the Senate, perhaps in a leadership position.

And yet, as the AP is reporting: "[Hillary] told colleagues [today] she would consider joining [Obama] as his running mate, and advisers said she was withholding a formal departure from the race partly to use her remaining leverage to press for a spot on the ticket." Some of her supporters are pushing for a so-called "unity ticket" -- is she now pushing for it herself? Perhaps, with distance from this long and sometimes bitter race, this will begin to make more sense to me than it does now.

8:48 pm - McCain is speaking. He said some nice things about Hillary and called her a friend, and he's putting on his "I'm-such-a-serious-and-sincere-guy" voice while, as usual, reading off a teleprompter without being able to disguise it. You know, it's all about trying to come across as tough yet soft. Some people still think he's a straight-talker, but he's such a phony bullshitter -- and he's got it going tonight.

Creature here with my two cents: So, John McCain is on my TV trying to weasel in on Obama's thunder, except not. The candidate is dull and so is his audience. The contrast couldn't be more stark. I can't wait until November.

9:01 pm - And there we have it. It's over. Obama has reached the magic number. He will be the Democratic Party's nominee for president. I may object to media sensationalism, but there is no denying that this is a truly historic moment.

9:22 pm - On CNN, David Gergen, contra Jeffrey Toobin, defended McCain for reaching out to Hillary and for playing up his "A Leader You Can Believe In" creds. Nonsense. It was a horrible speech. (Why am I watching CNN? It's my default cable news network. I suppose I'll turn to MSNBC later. But that means Chris Matthews. So perhaps not.)

9:26 pm - Hillary's up soon, but on to more pressing news: Jays 3, Yankees 2. (The Jays, my favourite team, have exceptional pitching this year, and their ace, Roy Halladay, is on the mound tonight. It's just too bad they can't hit. And as for the Yanks, they're not even over .500. And tonight was the formal Deification of Joba Chamberlain, his first start in the majors. He settled down after a rough first inning, but, honestly, what does it say about the '08 version of the Pinstripes that the team's hopes and dreams seem to be resting on the untested arm of a second-year quasi-phenom?)

9:33 pm - Okay, here's Hillary...

9:57 pm - Creature here with my two cents: Senator Clinton is on my TV still making her case. I just don't get it. I really don't. I respect the historic nature of her candidacy, but she is offering false hope. She says the word unity, but she is offering none.

Ted, via text message, adds: "Clinton just said 'she won't be making a decision tonight.' She's like a bad rash."

I guess it's all about the VP slot, but seriously why should he offer when she won't even acknowledge his win. I say Obama should adopt her health care plan and let's all move on.

11:31 pm -- MJWS back again. Sorry for the delay.

Creature and Ted put it well. What an appalling speech. Early on, I was thinking how appealing she can be when she's positive. When she was talking about what she wants, I was reminded of why I once liked her, and I understood, in a way, why so many people like her still.

But the rest of the speech... again, appalling. Look, I get it. She wanted to stay in the race to the very end, or at least through all the contests, until Obama reached the magic number. And she has. And he has. And it's over. And yet there she was, arrogance and egotism to the max, stressing her version of the popular vote totals, talking up her alleged experience, and, campaigning. In other words, her speech was all self-glorification -- specifically, self-glorification in the wake of unacknowledged defeat. Its sole purpose, it seemed, was to keep up the fight, or at least the facade of a fight. And that meant continuing to diminish Obama, just as she has done all along. On CNN, Gergen noted that the night would have been so much grander for Obama had Hillary come out and endorsed him. But of course that was never to be. This is Hillary we're talking about, and it was, as always, and despite her bullshit about how this was all about "you," about herself.

And so she didn't concede. Instead, she kept up the campaign rhetoric. No, it wasn't as negative as it has been in the past, but the message was clear: I'm the best and I deserve to win. In other words: Obama's win is a huge mistake. Those who voted for him are wrong. For fuck's sake, the self-glorifying song that was played when she finished was Tina Turner's "Simply the Best." How utterly arrogant and egotistical is that?

And what will she do now? She'll talk to party leaders about where to go from here. Really? Here's some advice: Get the fuck out of the race! It's over.

11:48 pm - The contrast between Hillary and Obama could not have been clearer tonight. His speech -- delivered to more than 17,000 people in St. Paul, Minnesota -- was simply awesome, one of the best I've heard him give in a long time. He was generous in his praise of Hillary -- so much so that I was again remainded of why I once liked her. He didn't talk much about himself, but he was gracious in victory, reaching out to Hillary and her supporters, and to Democrats generally, as well as to independents and disgruntled Republicans, effectively beginning the general election campaign with a fair and tough critique of John McCain, the Republican Party, and their deranged and destructive policies, and conclusing with an inspirational yet substantial appeal to the very best of the American spirit.

Simply put, I am in awe of Barack Obama.

11:59 pm - I couldn't agree more with Andrew Sullivan: "The speech tonight was a remarkable one for a candidate who has lost the nomination, though not remarkable for a Clinton. It was an assertion that she had won the nomination and a refusal to concede anything to her opponent. Classless, graceless, shameless, relentless. Pure Clinton... She will not go away. The Clintons will never go away. And they will do all they can to cripple any Democrat who tries to replace them. In the tent or out of it, it is always about them. And they are no longer rivals to Obama; they are threats."

And that's what she did tonight: In a speech that was all self-glorification -- arrogant, egotistical, delusional -- she threatened to keep on fighting even in defeat (not that she accepts defeat). And she wants her supporters not to rally behind Obama, not to work to unite a party that she has done so much to divide, but to keep fighting with her.

Like I said, appalling.

1:30 am - Let's get to the results before signing off for the night:

-- South Dakota: Hillary 55-45 (almost all precincts reporting).

-- Montana: Obama 58-40 (64 percent of precincts reporting).

No surprise in Montana, but the South Dakota result is a bit of one. I must admit, I wasn't paying much attention to the polls, but, then, there weren't many polls. Hillary campaigned there aggressively, but I thought Obama's connections to former Sen. Tom Daschle would have given him enough of a boost to win. In both states, though, it looks like turnout was really low.

1:34 am - So that's it for the primaries. It's been fun, eh? Well, no, that's not the right word for it. But it's certainly been exciting for us political junkies -- and especially for us Obama supporters.

What remains to be seen is what Hillary does now. I suspect that despite tonight's bluster she'll bow out soon enough, likely in the days ahead.

Regardless, the general election campaign has begun. And we'll be there to follow it.

(Oh, and by the way, the Jays can hit... sometimes. They scored 6 in the 7th en route to a 9-3 thrashing of the Yanks.)

Good night, everyone.

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  • "...[W]hat does it say about the '08 version of the Pinstripes that the team's hopes and dreams seem to be resting on the untested arm of a second-year quasi-phenom?"


    By Blogger creature, at 9:47 PM  

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