Charlie Cook: "Even in victory, she isn't getting any closer"

Amidst the frenzied flurry of Clintonista talking points filling the air like confetti at a ticker tape parade, the voices of reason are having a harder time getting heard.

One such voice is political analyst Charlie Cook.

If this contest were still at the point where momentum, symbolism, and reading tea leaves mattered, Clinton would be in pretty good shape. Everything she has needed to happen is happening now. Obama is getting tougher press coverage and critical examination. He's also getting rattled a bit, and he didn't perform well in the recent debate in Philadelphia. Clinton is winning in big, important places, but it's happening about three months too late.

Cook proceeds to pour some cold water on frenzied goalpost-moving Clintonites trying to change the rules of the contest. >>>

Splash, splash.

At the end of the day, the popular vote for the Democratic nomination means nothing. I doubt that having won the popular vote in the 2000 general election is of much solace to Al Gore. Many a football team gains more yards than its opponent in a game yet loses on that important technicality called points.[...]

But you can't change how the game is played once it has begun. The Democrats have decided that the nominee will be determined by the number of delegates won, not by the popular vote, and that primaries held in direct violation of party rules (in this case, Florida's and Michigan's) don't count. End of discussion.

What lies ahead?

The race now moves to Indiana and North Carolina, which vote on May 6. Obama appears to be narrowly ahead in the former and enjoys a 20-point advantage in the latter. If given the choice of Clinton's momentum or Obama's money going into two states where he is already ahead, I'd take the money and run.

In some ways, Clinton has spent the past six weeks in a horrible situation. How do you quit a race when you're still winning primaries? The delegate and fundraising pictures looked dismal to the point of near-impossibility, yet she was still taking the big primaries. There was really no way she could have stood on the podium in Philadelphia on Tuesday night and said, "Thank you, Pennsylvania, for this great victory. Oh, by the way, I'm now dropping out."

As long as Clinton is winning, she can't quit. But even in victory, she isn't getting any closer to securing the nomination.

Cook's bemused resistance to Clintonian talking points is a good indicator of where the national conversation will go. The simple fact is that Michigan and Florida will not count at the convention; certainly not Michigan, given the palpably Soviet absurdity of counting a state where Obama was not on the ballot in deference to an agreed-upon DNC posture.

Nor, when it comes right down to it, is the popular vote a measure of relevance (even if Obama remains ahead by any vote count in line with actual DNC rules). This contest began as a quest for delegates, as Cook rightly points out, and remains a quest for delegates. One can argue whether that's the right way to conduct the nominating process. But it is the way all parties involved agreed upon when the primary started, and campaigned accordingly.

Democrats might want to consider establishing some type of "bonus" delegates for winning a state, or at least modifying the party's perverse proportional representation system, which, in a two-way race, makes it extremely difficult to build a lead and almost impossible to overtake an opponent who has one. But for this election, the rules are the rules.

Wait, that's worth repeating:

But for this election, the rules are the rules.

In some ways, it's hard not to feel sympathy for Hillary Clinton and her dedicated supporters. She's been working on securing her place in history for such a long time. She also had the sheer bad luck of going up against a genuine political phenomenon, Barack Obama. And she is fast approaching the point where it will be impossible, between elected delegates and super-delegates, for her to win the nomination.

That point is probably two weeks away, after she loses both Indiana and North Carolina. At that point, barring an upset, the Democratic Party will place our common goals of defeating John McCain over its present indulgence of Clinton's hopes for the top spot. Any other candidate with her performance would have been pushed out of the race by now; that she hasn't been is due simply to respect for her, respect that, say, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani were not given on the other side.

And yes, it is important to give Clinton that deference and respect - up to a point.

It's worth pointing out, however - and Cook is sure to write about this going forward - that all is not lost for Senator Clinton. Despite running a horrifically, staggeringly incompetent campaign, she has secured a very respectable second place. Now, in a zero-sum game, second place is still a loss. But in the real world of politics, Clinton has earned a top spot in the national Democratic leadership. Offered the Vice Presidency, she would probably and rightfully refuse; that office has few inherent powers, and influence only at the pleasure of the President.

No, her real prize is to be the first female Senate Majority Leader. In the real world, there are no zero-sum games.

Tags: Barack Obama, Electability, Hillary Clinton, super-delegates (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Tips.

Senate Majority Leader ain't so bad. Think about it.

by MBNYC 2008-04-24 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

Everybody knows that Charlie Cook has hated the Clintons ever since 1922 when Bill's grandfather once gave him the evil eye.

by bawbie 2008-04-24 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

And rules aren't rules?

by IowaMike 2008-04-24 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

Did you mean to respond to me?  Because I don't get it...

by bawbie 2008-04-24 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

Since Charlie Cook, you feel, hates the Clintons', his arguments have no merit?

Rules are rules. The Clinton campaign voted to uphold the sanctions on FL and MI and only changed their minds after they realized they were losing. Wanting to change the rules because you are losing is unfair, and breaking the rules should have sanctions (like the ones the Clinton campaign voted for).

So, since you don't like Charlie, so all of his arguments are wrong, are you saying rules aren't rules?

by IowaMike 2008-04-24 06:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

<whisper>Pssst. I'm an Obama supporter.</whisper>

I was mocking the Clinton supporters who immediately discredit someone whenever they say anything even remotely critical of her.

by bawbie 2008-04-24 06:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Charlie Cook

oops, misread snark.

by IowaMike 2008-04-24 07:21AM | 0 recs
Re:

why was this needed? do you really care if HRC supporters won't admit its over?

and Obama supporters better stop thinking Hillary won't be on the ticket.

both sides keep doing crap like this, making both sides bitter that the party will force a joint ticket rather then only "hoe" Obama gets Hillary's voters.

by TruthMatters 2008-04-24 05:21AM | 0 recs
I don't see

what's so bitterness-inspiring about pointing out that this isn't a zero-sum game.

by MBNYC 2008-04-24 05:23AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't see

come on you aren't telling Obama supporters we all know he is the nominee.

so this is meant to demoralize HRC supporters, which leads them to post more dumb diaries

and really both sides should be preparing for Obama/Clinton

until she turns it down, she is the favorite for the VP. no one can safely say we will get HRC base without her on the ticket, and I think the Party doesn't want anymore chances.

we will see though, NYT article, Obama is moving more of his staff to dealing with John McCain

pretty much sums it up huh >_<

Hillary can do or say what she wants but Obama is moving to the GE, so lets get more anti-McCain diaries going!

by TruthMatters 2008-04-24 05:26AM | 0 recs
Don't be disingenuous.

Hillary hasn't asked for Veep, and if offered, would probably refuse. She's too smart to agree to taking a post where she has no inherent power.

Nor do I think that my poor efforts will provoke a further flurry of anti-Obama diaries. They spring up like mushrooms no matter what I do.

In short, I respectfully submit that you miss the point of what I'm trying to do here, and rather widely at that.

by MBNYC 2008-04-24 05:30AM | 0 recs
I actually disagree

While I don't think Obama would take Clinton as VP, she would take it in a heartbeat.  That's why she was floating the whole "I'll take Obama as my VP" deal awhile back.  It wasn't honestly to get him to drop out and be her VP, it was to manipulate herself into the 2nd place position.

It's quite honestly her best path to the presidency at this point.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:33AM | 0 recs
Won't happen

He won't want to be saddled to her negatives.

by rhetoricus 2008-04-24 08:03AM | 0 recs
Clinton won't be on the ticket.

Obama would never allow it.  I guarantee you this.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Clinton won't be on the ticket.

hey I will take that bet with 2-3 Obama supporters

Who wants to bet that we won't have a joint ticket? it can be a gentlemen's bet or if people have paypal we can say $100.

this idea that the Vice Presidency doesn't have enough power? ok who wants to step up.

by TruthMatters 2008-04-24 05:33AM | 0 recs
No thanks

I have no interest in betting on politics.  We have enough riding on this election as it is.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:44AM | 0 recs
There will be no joint ticket.

..not if Obama is nominated. Hillary is a leader, not a follower, and Obama won't take orders from her.

The SuperD's could put this to bed today if they wanted to. My guess is, nobody wants the "Judas" treatment, so they are hoping someone else will do it.

by rhetoricus 2008-04-24 08:06AM | 0 recs
Interesting article

I tend to agree that it's been hard for Clinton to jusify dropping out when she won Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania, because she's a very proud person and always has an eye on her political aspirations: what would her future opponents say if she dropped out when she was still winning?  If she were to, say, run for governor of New York, I think she needs to be able to say that she's a fighter and not someone who gives up easily.

If she'd run in 2004, I think she'd be running for re-election as we speak.  There's no question that she's a powerful campaigner and is easily stronger than John Kerry.  Just bad, dumb luck that someone who honestly has a chance to change the game showed up when she felt she was ready.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:29AM | 0 recs
I don't see her

running for governor. David Paterson would have to step aside, and then she'd be plunged into the fetid hellhole of dysfunction that is Albany.

I mean, never say never, and I think she'd be a good governor, but Clinton wants to play on the national stage, I think.

by MBNYC 2008-04-24 05:33AM | 0 recs
Possibly.

Patterson seems to have his own problems; I'm not sure if he'll win re-election.

I'm not great at knowing what Clinton wants; If she wants to be an executive, then Governor of New York is her best bet at this point.  

While Obama will be good for passing Clinton's policies, his positions on government transparency and lobby/finance reform are bad for her; she might find remaining in the Senate unpalatable.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:41AM | 0 recs
Subject

I love the way the sidebar abbreviates the title to "Even in victory, she isn't getting any"

by username2 2008-04-24 05:39AM | 0 recs
Yeah, jeez

C'mon, Bill.  She's working hard here.

by Dracomicron 2008-04-24 05:42AM | 0 recs
Ouch !

Okay, that's just wrong :-)

by MBNYC 2008-04-24 05:59AM | 0 recs
by nogo war 2008-04-24 05:56AM | 0 recs

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