05/12/2008 04:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

It Ain't Over Until It's Over

I know the pundits are saying it's over.
As the oracle-in-chief, Tim Russert said after midnight Tuesday night on MSNBC, "We now know who the nominee is going to be, and no one's going to dispute it."
And they didn't. As Tim goes, so goes the pundit nation.
The too-close-to-call crowd threw in the cards they were holding close to their chest all night. "I think the Clinton people know the game is up," said Dave Gergen at 2 AM on CNN. The declarative pile-on continued Wednesday morning. Bob Schieffer told one anchorwoman on The Early Show on CBS, "Basically, this race is over." The most eloquent death sentence came from the leading Russert-wanna-be, George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America. "This nomination fight is over."
All of which was easy for them to say.
What the pundits have been ignoring in dismissing what has been the equivalent of a national food fight the last two years is that Hillary is a fighter. She has been telling us that herself in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. She is the lightweight champion of the political world -- and I mean that only in terms of weight classification.
Would she lie to the people? I ask you. And after all those fighting words, will she be listening to the pundits or her own gut?
I, for one, accept her word. If anything, all of this negativity is only going to get her blood boiling, and I don't blame her. You can't expect her to show the white feather and cut and run now that she is so close.
My Hillary is going to take this to the floor of the convention or at least the credentials committee.
And why shouldn't she? As the noted political strategist, Yogi Berra has said, "It ain't over until it's over."
She's not going to listen to all those opinionators who are saying, wake up and smell the money, I mean, the coffee.
The only problem is she has a money problem now. She's already blown $25 or 30 million of her own money -just to prove what? For the first time the nation seems to prefer an African- American in the Oval Office rather than a woman? That is hard pill for a true feminist to swallow.

You can't expect the Obama campaign to lend her $12 million or so more left over from his stash to continue her fight. That would be like the house in a Vegas casino giving you credit so you can play against them.
There has to be some prize at the end of the food fight, argues Dennis Ainsworth, an economist, who has a plan:
Put the national convention on pay-per-view. Like a big championship fight in Vegas.
"It's a natural," Ainsworth explains, "because there's been so much interest in this food fight. The debates drew the largest audiences in the history of American presidential races. Whose ahead in delegates and superdelegates is on everybody's mind? That's all they talk about on cable news networks these days. The resolution of this fight can keep everybody on the edge of their seats."
It's easily a $100 million dollar gate, Ainsworth estimates. "The contestants, I mean, candidates, split the money. Whoever gets the nomination gets $50 million to continue the now almost secondary fight against the Republican what's-his -name. Whoever loses, gets to pay off their campaign debt."
"So everybody wins for a change," Ainsworth argues. "And it becomes another way for politicians to fleece the public."
I think Ainsworth's estimate of $100 million is on the conservative side. Conventions usually last three nights, even when there isn't a real fight.
Do you remember the credentials fight in the Ike vs. Taft race of 1952? That one didn't end until the clean-as-a- hound's- tooth candidate Dwight Eisenhower's operatives stole the Texas delegation. And who can forget the 1948 convention when the Southern delegates walked out because they couldn't stomach Harry Truman and his civil rights planks, and ran as Dixiecrats? That was great political theatre. Selling the package can gross $150-200 million.
One flaw in Ainsworth's marketing plan: There may be a problem about selling the rights to something that is a news event on the public's airwaves?
Terry McAuliffe will know how to deal with it. He raises all the money for Hillary. Terry can smell a dollar faster than a shark can smell a blood in the water.
Why shouldn't they be able to sell the rights to a convention fight? HBO buys the rights for championship fights? Colleges sell rights to their football games, even though taxpayers fund the schools. There is no such thing as a free lunch anymore.

Then the candidates and delegates can do what those other American idols, NASCAR drivers, do. Everybody who appears on the podium will be wearing a patch or two up and down their jackets indicating their corporate sponsors. Even an upstanding American like Tiger Woods has a little Nike symbol next to his heart every time he is on TV.
By selling the rights to the space on their chests, sleeves, backs and pockets, the public would know who owns their representatives: i.e., so and so from West Virginia is owned by Merck, Kellogg Cereals, the folks who bring you clean coal, whoever is financing their campaign. It would be a great step forward in campaign reform to know at a glance at the jacket that a senator or superdelegate is owned lock stock and barrel by Exxon Mobil.
The convention itself might be brought to us by General Motors, Halliburton, and Smith Kline Glaxo. In the early days, entire conventions on NBC were sponsored by Gulf. That might have inspired public television to become PBS (the Petroleum Broadcasting System).
Instead of the New Deal or the New Frontier, the campaign slogan of the most costly nominating process in history could be, "We've got the best government money can buy."