Hillary Clinton has blown an almost sure shot at the Democratic presidential nomination. Having surrendered the lead to Obama, she is not likely ever to regain it. It is a fantasy that the Ohio and Texas primaries will be a “firewall” to contain the flames of enthusiasm for Obama and reverse her defeats of February. Just as with Giuliani’s supposed Florida firewall, Hillary’s will crumble as Obama’s momentum carries him forward to the nomination.
Before Hillary lost her first primary or caucus, she lost the dialogue with the Obama campaign vis-à-vis the totally misguided decision to focus her message on experience, surrendering the ground of change to her opponent.
The more she tried to emphasize Obama’s inexperience, the more she seemed to fence herself into the status quo. That it was the status quo ante of the Clinton years, not the status quo of the Bush administration, made less and less difference as the campaign progressed.
She ran on a message perfect for a Republican primary — experience — and abandoned the key to winning a Democratic primary — the message of change — to Obama.
Her decision to rely on special interest political action committee and lobbyist contributions and to seed her war chest with the checks of maxed-out donors gave substance to Obama’s contrast of the status quo vs. change. With her chief strategist a lobbyist and her top campaign team all in the business, she was awash in associations that crippled her ability to fight for change.
Obama became the attraction in th e race while Hillary recited her laundry list of proposals with a deadening monotony.
She could have waged a grassroots, small-donor, Internet campaign of change based on being the first woman running for president with a serious chance of victory. The charisma could have been hers, the excitement hers and the novelty hers. But by embracing experience and pretending to be safe and tested, she deadened the excitement her candidacy could have generated.
She got a reprieve by winning in New York/New Jersey and in California/ Arizona largely on the strength of Latino and immigrant voters. Their concentration in five key states (75 percent live in California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Texas) gave her a draw on Super Tuesday. But too many of her votes come from Hispanics who fear blacks and from older whites who harbor residual racial feelings. Her and Bill’s heavy-handed attempts to polarize the election racially d ied on Super Tuesday in an avalanche of votes from white states like Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota and the like.