09 June 2008

And so it ends... NOT

Over 500 days (almost exactly half the entire duration of John F. Kennedy's Presidency), over two dozen televised "debates", nearly 40 million voters and contributors, and over $500 million dollars spent by the candidates pursuing the Democratic Party's nomination,


At least, when the question is whether "Clintonism" (the Clintonian variation of the Nixon method for getting elected) is well and truly ended.

The political machinations of the next 10 weeks are likely to brutal and ugly, but also largely hidden from plain view, as Hillary Rodham Clinton seeks to salvage what remains of her quest for power with an effort to be named Barack Obama's choice for Vice-President.

Even before the polls closed on the final day of primary voting, Hillary's VP campaign had begun. (perhaps as long ago as 21Feb in the Austin TX debate, and always remember that since 1974, the Clintons have NEVER STOPPED campaigning, for it is indeed "all they know how to do")

And who will "decide" the question? The 4000+ delegates to the Democratic Party National Convention in Denver in the last week of August 2008. And how will they decide? The questions of "electability", "compatibility", "loyalty", "gratitude", "sympathy", and "grievance" will all play their parts, but the combination of those factors will be subsumed into two major questions:
"Does Barack Obama want Hillary Clinton on the ticket?" and
"Can Barack Obama prevent Hillary Clinton from being on the ticket if he doesn't want her?".

Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination has been called "the greatest upset in American political history", but it will pale in comparison to the deftness and intelligence it will take to keep Hillary Clinton from becoming #2. (of course, if the campaigns were harbingers, the biggest obstacle Clinton will have to overcome may well be her own self)

She cannot appear to "want it" too much, but she must constantly remind the media, her core supporters, and therefore the Nominee, that "she has not 'given in', is the "best" selection in terms of the general election battle to come (in their opinion), that she has 'earned' it", all while subtly threatening to use the political capital of "identity" (in it's many forms) to Obama's and the Democratic Party's detriment. (the next two/three weeks will be the most critical while the residue of the primary campaign's ending is still fresh)

The corporate media will greatly determine the efficacy of her campaign by how much and how often, and in what light, they discuss her "assets and liabilities" (including polling) as well as the trends in polling matchups between Obama and McCain. The number of defections of pledged/endorsed delegates from Hillary Clinton to Obama, and the publicity accrued to them, will also play a key role in the determination.

At some point during the next 10 weeks, Barack Obama will make an "announcement" based purely on political calculus. Whether to "select" Hillary Clinton as his choice for VP or someone else. The calculations will be based on the questions of "is it 'safe' (both choosing her or someone else), will she help or hurt more (in both the election contest and if successfully elected, afterward), and how do the majority of those 4000+ Democratic Party delegates feel, or would likely react, were Obama to be unexpectedly bold?"

Ultimately it is the communicated preferences of the Democratic Delegates/Party Leaders who will decide. Their self-interest derived conclusions will determine Obama's. If they see a viable way to put an end to Clintonism and it's inherent risks, in the form of Hillary's VP quest, and they desire to do so, they will indicate so via back-channels. If the majority feels otherwise, they will be far more public in their assertions.

Watch the major media for clues. The polls highlighted, how often Hillary Clinton is covered as well as Obama's VP "search", delegate defections/assertions, anything "out-of-left-field", and particularly the statements/actions by former President Clinton.

For every day that passes, as one after another, VP possibilities are featured in the news campaigning at Barack Obama's side, as well as every time Hillary (or Bill) Clinton is featured in a headline or cable TV news story, the equation will change. And for all of Hillary's problems with 'math' this year, she is an expert at the kind of 'political calculus' needed to secure the VP spot. It will take a true political genius, and some luck, to thwart her. (again)

Time will tell.

(as of 9June08, i'd rate it 50/50, but if Hillary is not 'selected' by 4July the odds drop to 25/75)