Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The scope of Hillary Clinton's latest resurrection can be appreciated only in light of the elaborate preparations that had been made for her expeditious burial. That she is very much alive can be attested to her true grit but also the revelation Barack Obama is not the miraculously perfect candidate after all.

Assuming that Sen. Clinton at best would eke a victory in Ohio Tuesday to end her long losing streak, prominent Democrats were organizing a major private intervention. A posse of party leaders would plead with her to end her campaign and recognize Obama as the Democratic standard-bearer. To buttress this argument, several elite unelected super-delegates (including several previous Clinton supporters) were ready to come out for Obama. Those plans went on hold Tuesday night.

Clinton's transformation of the political climate by her decisive victory in Ohio and unexpected narrow win in Texas coincided with Obama facing adversity for the first time in his magical candidacy, and not handling it well. The result is not only the prospect of seven weeks of fierce campaigning by the two candidates stretching out to the next primary showdown April 22 in Pennsylvania, but also perhaps what Democratic leaders feared but never really thought possible until now: a contested national convention in Denver the last week of August.

By chance, this critical week for Obama began Monday with jury selection in the Chicago corruption trial of his former friend and fund-raiser Tony Rezko. For the first time, the story of this political fixer's connections with the Democratic Party's golden boy spread beyond the Chicago media. In a contentious press conference Monday, Obama was uncommunicative. He ended the session by walking out and announcing that eight questions were enough.

Less obvious than his Rezko performance but more disturbing to insiders was Obama's handling of the North American Free Trade Agreement. With NAFTA having become an expletive in economically depressed northern Ohio, the two Democratic candidates competed with each other in pandering -- denouncing the trade agreement that was a jewel in President Bill Clinton's crown. The trouble began when Canadian CTV television reported Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee had visited Canada's consulate in Chicago to reassure officials there.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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