By this time next week we will know whether the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton is alive or dead. We will also know whether the legacy of William Jefferson Clinton is alive or dead.
The betting here? Dead and deader.
Perhaps more than any other man holding the office of President, Bill Clinton was concerned about his.
A forum held in early 2000 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC had this as its summary:
With just under two weeks remaining in Bill Clinton's presidency, his supporters and detractors are already hard at work crafting two very different versions of his historic legacy. And no one is working harder to leave a favorable mark than Bill Clinton himself.
When this campaign began, some 14 months ago there was great concern on the part of big-time political strategists that Bill Clinton's astonishing popularity among the Democratic faithful was so overwhelming that people would vote for Hillary as a favor to Bill.
Further, there was concern that people would vote for Hillary so they could get, in effect, another four or eight years of Bill.
That concept got some dings during the Iowa caucuses which Obama won, got revived in New Hampshire when Hillary won, then was beaten into scrap when Bill Clinton got off his meds in South Carolina where, on January 26 - just a month ago - Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton 55% - 27%.
In South Carolina, Bill Clinton used what were interpreted as thinly veiled racial references about Barack Obama starting the slide which has Hillary's political career and Bill's legacy hanging by the proverbial thread.
As recently as February 5, the Gallup Poll had Clinton leading Obama 53-39. As of last night they were tied at 46% each.
If Obama wins more than two of the four primaries next week (Rhode Island and Vermont are on the calendar as well as Ohio and Texas) then the campaign for the Democratic nomination will be effectively over.
Bill and Hillary will be faced with this problem: If they continue to utilize all of the tools available - including urging a large percentage of the 796 super delegates to ignore the will of the majority of the elected delegates - they will likely dismantle the 70-year-long Democratic coalition.
Now, there's a legacy for you.
New Topic I:
In last night's debate, Hillary attempted to play her "America's Victim" role by complaining that in these debates she has had to answer every question first.
Hillary, the only woman on stage among four men - Tim Russert and Brian Williams were the MSNBC questioners. She said (in that way that women do when they are scolding men, smirk-ish smile, one eyebrow raised) "I find it interesting that I always get the first question."
Maybe the crowd was warned not to cheer or boo or clap or breathe, but the silence which greeted that move was as loud as anything we've heard this very noisy month.
New Topic II:
I was watching the History Channel last night. The History Channel has a regular program called: "Modern Marvels." Why the History Channel runs a program named "Modern Marvels" is beyond me.
But, wait! There's more! Last night the program on "Modern Marvels" was: "Pirate Tech" with this description: "Pirates use firearms, swords and navigational equipment." It was a program about real, 17th century, Caribbean, Spanish Main pirates.
The History Channel had a program called "Modern Marvels" about 17th century pirates.
I have enough trouble trying to remember which way time runs in real life. This was almost too existential to contemplate.
'Course, I watched the whole thing…