Columns » John Brummett

Between Barack and a hardplace

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So how is the tranquility coming in the Democratic Party? Oh, not so much.
Hillary Clinton has figured out what works, and shown the stomach for it, which no one should have doubted.
She attacked Barack Obama as unable to answer a ringing phone at 3 a.m., thus a threat to sleeping children. She said he was revealed as a politician as usual — no better than her, in other words — by these Canadians who, for some odd reason, decided to leak a memo suggesting that Obama was only telling Ohioans he was against NAFTA.
Hillary appears to be the favorite in the Canadian primary. Canada voters know who passed NAFTA.
Now you have women and Latinos and AARP veterans who overwhelmingly favor her, but might not move quite so fluidly to him if he's the nominee. And you have African-Americans and high-end liberals who overwhelmingly favor him, but might not move quite so fluidly to her if she's the nominee.
Then this happened Tuesday night: Hillary's campaign put out a memo saying Obama's people were cheating in the caucuses in Texas. So then Howard Wolfson, Hillary's attack dog, sent an e-mail that he was going to have one of those conference calls with reporters. Then he was having this conference call, and this guy spoke up. It turned out to be one of Obama's campaign lawyers, who had dialed in to tell Wolfson to his face — well, his ear — to stop whining and destroying the party every time Hillary lost a caucus.
She didn't really win Texas, you know. She just got more votes.
After all that madness, Obama had the math and Hillary had the momentum. And we needed re-dos in Michigan and Florida.
Super-delegates must decide. Do these super-delegates go with the black man of hope who probably will have more votes and earned delegates? Or do they go with the woman, the Clinton, who may be the stronger candidate at the end, at least to the extent that Obama doesn't seem to scrap all that well?
He speaks beautifully. He inspires. He is thoughtful. But he always seems to be measuring his words as if afraid when he confronts her broadsides. He doesn't seem the type to say, "If the phone rang in the Clinton White House at 3 a.m., it probably was Monica needing some dirty talk and a job."
It might be just as well that he's more measured than that.
The chairman of the Democratic Party, who might be expected to step in and mediate, is Howard Dean, who's not up to it. Harry Reid isn't either. Maybe Nancy Pelosi would be.
One of the funniest things I've heard is that Al Gore might go to Hillary and tell her to stand down. Yeah, sure. He'd come away from that wearing his Nobel Prize internally.
I cannot imagine how this turns out. Obama is going to win the next couple of small states, most likely. But Hillary will win Pennsylvania, because it's a lot like Ohio, which is to say Alabama with colder weather. It's also a closed primary. Obama relies on independents and cross-over Republicans, some of them men who have only one real objective, which is to oppose her.
After this Democratic primary, one of the biggest general elections of our lifetime is going to seem anti-climactic. Conservatives will have to hold their noses and embrace John McCain. Approximately half the Democrats are going to be bitter about their nominee.
If it's Hillary-McCain, I could almost vote for McCain, except for two little things. One is a hundred-year war. The other is the U.S. Supreme Court.

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