Sunday, October 14, 2007

Is Hillary winning the nomination inevitable?

Michelle Obama, demonstrating that she would make a better choice for the nomination than Hillary Clinton, argues against inevitablility:
“Nothing is inevitable,” said Michelle Obama, vowing that her husband was a “uniter” who could beat Clinton to the party nomination, in a Sunday Times article.

Asked if she thought Clinton was a polarizing figure, she replied: “That is definitely one of the challenges she faces. You can see it in the surveys.”
Hillary Clinton's biggest advantage in the presidential race -- utter ruthlessness -- is also her biggest disadvantage. To a certain extent, the entire question is a reflection of the Clinton's propaganda machine: admitting that Hillary Clinton is not the inevitable winner means admitting that Hillary Clinton is not perfect, which means admitting that Republicans might have offered a valid criticism of her character at some point. Can't have that happening!

The other reason for the aura of inevitability comes from the Howard Dean catastrophe of 2004. If you remember, Dean had ridden a wave of popular acclaim in support of his bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. The Dean campaign seemed to have real grassroots fervor: college students across the nation were experiencing religious epiphanies before volunteering for the Dean campaign. At my university at the time, the Dean supporters were so heavily propagandized that one of them accused gays and lesbians of "intolerance" for not allowing the Dean campaign to be discussed at a weekly GLBT meeting.

Then as fast as you can say "Iowa", the Dean campaign imploded. One conspiracy theory that formed in explanation was that the entire Democratic nominating process was all an elaborate crowd-pleasing charade. The Democratic leadership simply waited for the right moment (to preserve "plausible deniability") and then "pulled the trigger" on the Dean campaign. The nagging suspicion is that something similar might be the reason for the present success of the Obama campaign.

This theory also suggests a reason for why so many states have been jockeying for the earliest nominating primary date. If the field of candidates for the 2008 nomination is going to get decimated down to one in the first week of the primary season, there isn't any point for a state to not have one of the first primaries.

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