06/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's Better to Lose an Election than the Party

In the 20th century world of machine politics, political machines survived on the principle that "it's better to lose an election than to lose the party". The Clintons and Terry McAuliffe lost the National Democratic Party to Howard Dean & Co. after John Kerry lost to George Bush in 2004. Now it appears that Hillary has lost the nomination and if Obama is the candidate who loses to McCain it is likely that she and Bill will inherit the party once again. An Obama defeat by a Republican who bears the burden of George Bush's eight years, will forfeit any claim he may have to lead the Democratic Party. For him 2008 is the all or nothing year.

I know readers will think, and I don't know any nice way of putting it, that it might be in Hillary's interests not to do too much for the Obama campaign. Many of her voters are just as loyal to her as Obama's are to him, and if even 10% of them should decide to vote the other way, Mr. Obama is probably a loser. At this moment Obama may need Ms. Clinton more than she needs him, and it's probably time for Obama fans to forget the past and forgive Ms. Clinton, for what they perceive to be, her sins.

I saw little of that in the comments on "ABC -- Anybody But Clinton" piece posted here yesterday. I saw none of it over the weekend, when Obama's people demanded and received by a narrow vote four delegates in Michigan that they did not deserve, and certainly did not need. That kind of petty humiliation did nothing to restore party unity, and permitted Harold Ickes Jr. to get in some pretty rough licks at the Deaniacs who now run the party.

The time for that stuff is over and I'd advise the Obama team to take a hard look at what I will now call the ABOs -- Anybody But Obamas. Obama lost South Dakota, his sponsor Tom Daschle's home state, by ten points last night to Hillary Clinton, by that time a dead candidate. If even the politically dead can beat Obama, he's got a lot of work to do, and I'm not sure at this point if I'd advise Hillary Clinton to do any heavy lifting for him. It's a rough world out there and Barack is going to need all the help he can get. Because for Hillary's best political interests, it may be better to lose the election and regain the party.

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