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What Does the Future Hold for Hillary's Surrogates?


Love 'em or loathe 'em, you've got to respect the tenacity of Hillary Clinton's television surrogates. Like the Japanese Imperial soldiers who refused to abandon their jungle hideouts until twenty or thirty years after the end of World War II, Hillary's battle-tested legion of television studio shock troops refuses to offer the slightest hint of surrender despite the dire circumstance of their campaign.

So what is to be done with these surrogates -- the Terry McAuliffes, James Carvilles, Ann Lewises, Lanny Davises, Howard Wolfsons and others...

Fiercely loyal, combative and articulate, the stable of Clinton television surrogates reminds one of the lion cage at the zoo. Or maybe it's the shark tank at the aquarium.

To this day, these skilled spinners push facts, reality and past-held positions, to the side in order to promote electability arguments that border on the unreasonable and anti-democratic. With the zeal of wide-eyed crusaders, Hillary's advocates appear to relish the role they play -- defending their beloved queen to the death as her enemies surround her.

While most political types in today's day and age can be expected to bend with the wind, Hillary's loyal group of surrogates appear bound to her instead by some sort of suicide pact. These seasoned pros seem content to jeopardize their own political self-interest by continuing to take pot-shots at the presumptive nominee and promoting a delegate strategy that, if taken to its logical conclusion, would sew fissures in the Democratic Party that could take a generation to repair.

Indeed, fealty to such a reckless strategy could raise the question as to where their loyalty truly lies -- to the Party or to the Clintons. But assuming that their ultimate loyalty will lie with the Party's nominee, it begs the further question -- is there a role for these stalwarts of past Democratic campaigns on Team Obama? Or, after Obama finally salts away the nomination, will they just fade away?

It is hard to overstate the difference in style between the cadres of television surrogates assembled by the two campaigns. Especially when compared with the litigious, take-no-prisoners style of the Clinton advocates, Obama's television team -- filled with the likes of Tom Daschle, Claire McCaskill, Amy Klobuchar and David Axelrod - looks like the kind of people you'd rather have babysit your kids than take to a knife fight with John McCain.

This is not by accident. Obama wants a team that reflects his call for a new style of politics that allows for disagreement without disagreeableness.

But no matter how you think of their performance during this primary, one can't help but recognize the talent and tenaciousness that is the hallmark of Clinton's crusaders. And one has a sneaking suspicion that the general election campaign may well become a knife fight. But whether or not Team Obama will want these Clinton cast-offs -- or even trust them -- to play a role in the general campaign remains to be seen.