Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Clinton as Norma Desmond

Hillary (Hilarious) Clinton has gone on for far too long while not going far enough toward her party's nomination. Today's leads in Salon and Slate, as well as many papers, join Barack Obama in exasperation.

Slate asks Can Obama do anything to get Clinton out of the race? Over at Salon, In Iowa, Obama reaches toward victory suggests that the answer is to let her alone, concentrating on John McCain and November.

In an increasingly irrational and bizarre spectacle, Clinton seems to be channeling Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond. Setting aside both logic and grace, she seems determined to head to the pathetic from the noble.

Most unfortunately, Clinton has been reduced to claiming the iffy, that it's not her flaws or missteps causing problems here, rather sexism. Quite simply, that's unprovable and weak. People not wanting to vote for a such a well known and exposed woman is inseparable from her personal traits.

Yet the analysis in today's New York Times asserts just that from her. "Rather, in private conversations and in interviews, Mrs. Clinton has begun asserting that she believes sexism, rather than racism, has cast a shadow over the primary fight, a point some of her supporters have made for months. Advisers say that continuing her candidacy is partly a means to show her supporters — especially young women — that she is not a quitter and will not be pushed around."

Much like the current George Bush's dogged approach to Iraq, she continues beyond reason and hope. The end effect seems from here to be painting herself as a loser who doesn't know how to manage her campaign, not even its exit. That would not be the image she'd want for another run at the White House later.

However, the Times reports too that Clinton's aides interpret staying in the race differently. "(A)massing a strong popular vote, and going out on some high notes, would help Mrs. Clinton emerge from the long nomination battle on better footing, aides say. And making herself an appealing vice-presidential prospect — or setting herself up to run again in 2012, if Mr. Obama should lose, or perhaps 2016 — is not altogether out of the question."

She received support from the WomenCount PAC with full-page ads in USA Today, the Times and a few regional papers. A recreation of the ad is here.

The ad states that the group wants every single vote counted. "We know that when women vote, Democrats win. Now it is the responsibility of our party to hear our voices and count all of our votes," the ad reads. A wag can easily note that the majority of registered and actual voters are women. Then we should be able to praise or blame them for all of our Presidents and legislators. I doubt that is what WomenCount want to say.

The ad concludes, "We want Hillary to stay in this race until every vote is cast, every vote is counted, and we know that our voices are heard. " A bit of irony there is in the implied dependence on those nasty superdelegates. Those roughly 800, largely party insiders, represent votes that can each overrule the popular votes of thousands. These are Clinton's only sliver of hope at the nomination. The anti-popular-vote deal making is not what the ad calls for, but it is what Clinton looks to. Female or male, those voters are not represented fairly in this most undemocratic of procedures.

Clinton's end game strike me as delusional. The longer she displays herself as a loser in denial, the less political capital she appears to keep. She may even increase the disappointment of her supporters, making it harder for them to work to defeat the Republicans in November. Hurting the nation thus to make herself feel better is not exactly a noble achievement.

Norma Desmond responded to the comment, "You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big!" with "I am big! It's the pictures that got small."

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Anonymous said...

How NOT funny...hope norma doesn't have the last laugh on you folks.

Running until the end does not hurt the country or the Party...that's a ruse...because if running for office until the race is actually over hurts obama, then he is a pretty weak candidate.

massminuteman said...

Yeah, right.

You might want to look up the final 3 candidates of the 1976 Presidential election. I bet you can figure out which of the current 3 matches to those 3. It's quite remarkable.

Hint: it's not an accident that Jimmy Carter is so chummy with Obama. And that, like Carter, Obama has over time gone from a slam dunk/'realignment' candidate in the General to plausible winner with pretty much the Kerry EV map, to predictably a narrow win at best. Like for Carter, the mandate on issues isn't looking like much either.

Oh, did I mention that the candidate that came in third in '76, cruised in '80 when The People was tired of centrism and moderates....

massmarrier said...

None of that is so remarkable or clear an extrapolation. We have different times and circumstances. The struggle against more of the same is easier with such a majority saying the self-identified conservative view has been dead wrong, deadly wrong and otherwise ruinous for a long time. Any Carter/Reagan analogies are tenuous.

As is human, we resist change, making a Dem win an effort. The GOP and its administration have made it much easier though.