George Will

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton, 60, Illinois native and Arkansas lawyer, became, retroactively, a life-long Yankee fan at age 52 when, shopping for a U.S. Senate seat, she adopted New York state as home sweet home. She may think, or at least would argue, that when she was 12 her Yankees really won the 1960 World Series, by standards of "fairness," because they trounced the Pirates in runs scored, 55-27, over seven games, so there.

Unfortunately, baseball's rules -- pesky nuisances, rules -- say it matters how runs are distributed during a World Series. The Pirates won four games, which is the point of the exercise, by a total margin of seven runs, while the Yankees were winning three by a total of 35 runs. You can look it up.

After Tuesday's split decisions in Indiana and North Carolina, Clinton, the Yankee Clipperette, can, and hence eventually will, creatively argue that she is really ahead of Barack Obama, or at any rate she is sort of tied, mathematically or morally or something, in popular votes, or delegates, or some combination of the two, as determined by Fermat's Last Theorem, or something, in states whose names begin with vowels, or maybe consonants, or perhaps some mixture of the two as determined by listening to a recording of the Beach Boys' "Help Me, Rhonda" played backward, or whatever other formula is most helpful to her, and counting the votes she received in Michigan, where hers was the only contending name on the ballot (her chief rivals, quaintly obeying their party's rules, boycotted the state, which had violated the party's rules for scheduling primaries), and counting the votes she received in Florida, which, like Michigan, was a scofflaw and where no one campaigned, and dividing Obama's delegate advantage in caucus states by pi multiplied by the square root of Yankee Stadium's ZIP code.

Or perhaps she wins if Obama's popular vote total is, well, adjusted by counting each African-American vote as only three-fifths of a vote. There is precedent, of sorts, for that arithmetic (see the Constitution, Article I, Section 2, before the 14th Amendment).

"We," says Geoff Garin, a Clinton strategist who possesses the audacity of hopelessness required in that role, "don't think this is just going to be about some numerical metric." Mere numbers? Heaven forefend. That is how people speak when numerical metrics -- numbers of popular votes and delegates -- are inconvenient.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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