But Obama is betting on the last hurrah metaphor (except for the fact that the winner is a cipher in the book), only in the Obama retelling of the tale, what has changed in American politics is not national welfare but American racial attitudes. Historically, race (traditionally black-white but now, with the rise of the number of Hispanics, Hispanic-black, as well) sadly has shaped American voting patterns.
The early Democratic primary returns are inconclusive -- but suggestive that the old ways are not passed yet. In South Carolina, Obama got about 80 percent of the black vote and about 25 percent of the white vote in an admittedly three-way race. If the second choice of Edwards' 40 percent of the white vote were to split only 2-1 against Obama (in fact, the white vote split 3-1 against Obama ) -- and if the South Carolina numbers are representative of national racial attitudes amongst Democratic Party voters -- then that would suggest that the Clintons' gamble that they can polarize the white vote at about 60-40 percent in their favor will be an electoral winner. And a polarized Hispanic vote (which so far has been running at least 2-1 against Obama in Democratic primaries) would only add to the Clintons' electoral advantage in California and other states with a high percentage of Hispanics.
The danger to the Clintons is that this ugly racial politics will backfire and the ugliness of the Clintons' racial calculations will trump the historic ugliness of racial consciousness in voters. Young, less bigoted voters will come out in large numbers. (Even older bigoted voters will be disgusted by the cynical Clinton manipulation of their prejudices and vote for Obama.)
To finesse this danger, it would not surprise me if Hillary starts distancing herself from Bill. She might say: "He was acting on his own. He suffered from sleep deprivation. I have told him, quite frankly, I don't want that sort of talk to continue, and it is not what my campaign is about."
If a credulous media and public buy into that phony claim, Hillary would get the best of three worlds: She would have racially polarized the electorate to her advantage, avoided responsibility for it, and shown herself to be a strong feminist woman who finally can put her naughty husband in his place. I'm pulling for the Skeffington metaphor, but I'm betting on Mondale.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.