Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Facts Come Before Spin -- Eventually

I was struck some weeks ago when Obama spoke about how Clinton's campaign was all tactical maneuvers (...wish I could find the quote now). It's become increasingly evident that he was right: for some time now the Clinton campaign has exerted energy doing tiny things: picking a fight with MSNBC, challenging Obama to debates, touting a fundraising boost after the $5 million loan was revealed, and telling us why the various contests that Obama was taking were somehow unimportant--all tactical maneuvers. Now it's nakedly apparent that the Clinton strategy, such as it is, is to decamp to March and let Obama win as much of February's contests as he can take. The month will be spent spinning and spinning and engaging in ever-smaller tactical scrimshaw.

Many blogs have made fun of the Clinton camp's continuing efforts to explain away every defeat as somehow unimportant for one reason or another -- "too many African-American voters," "it's a caucus," "it's a Red state," etc etc. Yglesias committed an early example. Kos contributes an exhaustive take. Kos Diarist Jeff Lieber shows how absurd the cumulative explanations have become.

For most of the past few days, these explanations have been carried by the mainstream press pretty much as they were made by the Clintonistas, allowing their tactics to hit the public as intended.

No more. Today, after the decisive victories in the Potomac primaries and an apparently nearly unassailable lead in pledged delegates, the dam seems to have burst with the press and they're basically calling bullshit on the spin.

Obama cuts into Clinton base Beth Fouhy of the AP writes:
By this logic, only certain states really matter, such as New Hampshire and New Jersey, states that Clinton has won. Or Texas and Ohio, states she must capture to stay in the race.

The list of excuses is long, but the justifications are wearing thin. One by one, all the contests Clinton has suggested don't count are proving in size and scope that they do.
Ok, so these states all do count, after all. What about that massive superdelegate lead? Ron Fournier (AP) spills on the people the Clintons may no longer be able to count on:
Clinton should find little comfort in the fact that she has secured 242 superdelegates to Obama's 160.

"I would make the assumption that the ... superdelegates she has now are the Clintons' loyal base. A superdelegate who is uncommitted today is clearly going to wait and see how this plays out. She's at her zenith now," Duffy said. "Whatever political capital or IOUs that exist, she's already collected."
Tactics are all they have, but they are well past rancid. It must be tiring to continually push these counterfactual themes (though I admit the Bushies have done that for years). In a way I feel sorry for the Clinton people and Hillary herself. But not too sorry--they haven't covered themselves in glory with their racist dogwhistle campaign and being downright petty, as James Fallows noted last night (doing what she's done after previous losses). So, screw 'em.

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