I think it’s time to give it up Hillary….is what Barack Obama seems to be saying and the rest of us are thinking. After a marathon contest Barack Obama finally seems to have secured the necessary 2118 delegates together with an avalanche of super delegates to secure the Democratic nomination for the US Presidential title race. Hillary’s not yet said what her intentions are but presumably the best she can hope for is to be offered the VP running ticket. Would she want it? Maybe the smart thing would be to concede gracefully, let the Clinton’s regroup emotionally and financially, and to plan for a Chelsea Clinton bid for the main prize down the line.
How did someone with such an unassailable position at the start of the campaign go and blow it (maybe I could have phrased that better given the context)? Well it may be a personal perspective but to me it looks like she lost out because:
– the Clinton team made the grave mistake of assuming it was in the bag from day one and they seriously underestimated the Obama appeal – until it was too late. It seemed obvious from the start that the American people fancied a change from the Clinton/Bush scenario. Obvious to all but Hillary et al.
– it’s also clear that Obama understood and capitalised on the power of the internet to raise funds. Even though Clinton had a huge campaign war chest it paled beside the vast sums Obama was able to raise from hundreds of thousands of ‘ordinary’ backers. He was able to outspend her all the way and still have some left over. Hilary’s had to raid the family funds twice to keep things going and she exits the campaign in debt.
– her husband Bill far from being the great fixer and vote draw has become an electoral liability with his ill-judged gaffes and comments – particularly the barbed comments about the character of their opponent. As always there have been rumours and stories about his on-the-road highjinks which cannot have helped.
– she was undermined from the start by her earlier backing for the Iraq war. No matter how she tried to explain her new position, it remained an achilles heel when people assessed her wider powers of judgement. Meanwhile Obama has consistently opposed the war and found almost total empathy from the public for his position.
– she also miscalculated badly when trying to talk-up the importance of the Clinton role in the N Ireland peace settlement (which was found to be exaggerated) and again when suggesting she’d braved sniper fire when visiting American troops in Bosnia (which was found to be totally inaccurate). Both incidents made her look like an opportunist storyteller at best and a liar at worst. She was damaged goods thereafter.
That said she won the primaries for all the major states and garnered a huge popular vote. She’s proven her toughness and combativeness and would make an excellent no 2 I reckon. But she’ll never make it to No 1.
The good news is that the Democrats have an outstanding candidate to take on McCain. If it’s been absorbing so far, it should be a great contest going forward too.