The latest talking point for Hillary Clinton is this race is still early in the process and primaries from previous years were decided much later in the year. She recently told Time, as well almost every other interviewer she's talked to, "I remind a lot of people that my husband didn't formally wrap up the nomination until June."
The point is supposed to be that this race isn't over. They're just getting started. Give her more time. Here's the problem, that isn't really true.
In 1992, the year Bill Clinton won the nomination she's alluding to, the primaries started significantly later than they did in 2008. Iowa was on January 3rd this year and on February 10th in 1992 (remember, this year we'd already had Super Tuesday by Feb. 5th). New Hampshire was on January 8th in 2008 and February 18th in 1992. Super Tuesday was on Feb. 5th this year and was on March 10th in 1992 (we'd already had the so-called second Super Tuesday in Ohio and Texas by this date in 2008).
Secondly, despite the later start Bill Clinton had already locked up the nomination by early April after the New York primary. Hillary Clinton knows this and that's why she inserts a lawyerly word into her statement every time -- formally. "My husband didn't formally wrap up the nomination until June." [emphasis added]
So, why does she employ this needless piece of sophistry? Because she thinks she needs it. She needs to buy more time (can't you just see Scotty yelling down to Captain Kirk, "I need more time!").
The extra time isn't for more elections, there are only ten left. We've already had more than the lion's share of contests. It is abundantly clear that she can't catch him just based on the remaining elections. No, time buys her something else -- the chance for Obama to implode between now and whenever he formally wraps up the nomination.
If it was only a matter of Obama's candidacy self-destructing, that would be one thing. She could sit back and see if anything changes through the next set of elections. You can argue that she's earned that. But it's another thing if she is actively trying to push Obama off the cliff with the extra time she's buying, even though she knows there is a great likelihood that he will be the Democratic nominee.
If you don't care about the Democratic Party or who their nominee is or how they do in the general election, then you have all the right in the world to keep pounding away at your opponent. Who cares how badly you damage him if you're only interested in yourself? Who knows, it might even help your political career later.
But there is one group of people who do care -- Democratic voters. They are beginning to understand that this race is over and the cheap shots at this point aren't helping anyone but John McCain.
The problem isn't hitting Obama; the problem is hitting Obama after the bell. This contest is effectively over and Clinton is using her heaviest guns now. Perhaps she should have rolled them out earlier, but unleashing her most ferocious lines of attack after the writing is already on the wall seems like poor sportsmanship, to say the least.
It reminds me of when I used to watch WWF as a kid. The good guy would win the match and he would be strutting around the ring as the crowd cheered. And that's when the bad guy would get up, sneak behind him and clobber him in the back of the head. This was a cue to the audience -- the guy who hit after the bell was clearly the bad guy.
And if they were a really bad guy, they'd use a chair or worse. Who can forget the time "Rowdy" Roddy Piper hit Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka with a belt? Hillary, you don't want to be Rowdy Roddy Piper. He was the bad guy, a really bad guy.
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