by Josh Orton, Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 07:18:04 PM EDT
I think it's late enough in the evening for me to post this story without the hysterical flaming from earlier today about Mark Penn:
Another of the cabal, Howard Wolfson, talks to ABC online and lodges his loafer directly into his mouth:
Sen. Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year, insists a top Clinton campaign aide, making a charge that could exacerbate previously existing tensions between the camps of Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.
"I believe we would have won Iowa, and Clinton today would therefore have been the nominee," former Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told ABCNews.com.
Markos debunks this ridiculous speculation almost too politely, using available polling to show that Clinton wasn't the 2nd choice favorite for enough Edwards supporters in the Iowa caucus to support the theory. Nor, as history shows us, did Edwards help Obama significantly in subsequent contests by staying in the race.
So Wolfson's proclamation falls flat statistically.
But we shouldn't evaluate this blame-peddling in just one dimension (...as I've said before, I think Hillary Clinton is a good progressive whose campaign staff served her terribly. So for the sake of at least attempting to avoid another primary flame, let's stipulate that this discussion is just about Hillary's staff and not her).
Wolfson is trying to posit that, in the final analysis, the only reason Hillary Clinton wasn't nominated is that John Edwards' affair didn't come out sooner.
Not because his campaign didn't count delegates early enough. Not because they stopped polling in states where they knew they'd lose but still needed to contain Obama's margin of victory. Not because they ceded every caucus state after Iowa. Not because they couldn't control their press coverage. Not even because Michigan and Florida, two huge states that may have gone Clinton, were excluded.
But because Edwards' affair came out too late.
You know why else Hillary wasn't nominated? Because Barack Obama was never caught grilling chipotle-marinated puppies and kittens in his backyard several days prior to the Iowa caucus.
In fact, absent Edwards, I think it's totally reasonable to conclude that that's the only other reason Hillary wasn't nominated.
Update [2008-8-12 6:26:57 by Josh Orton]: As Jerome "Buzzkill" Armstrong notes in the comments, Clinton's campaign did in fact pay attention to at least one other caucus state besides Iowa: they won Nevada. But the point here is that two weeks before the convention, when enough process story exist about Clinton supporters already, Wolfson is giving "if only" statements to the traditional media. Not helpful.