I find it mildly amusing that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean have all come out in the past two days promising to bring an end to the Democratic presidential campaign next week. While it is true that the party “leaders” can apply pressure to the unaligned super delegates, they cannot apply pressure to Hillary herself. What is needed to end this race is a concession speech from the runner-up. Does anyone really think that is forthcoming?
Let’s look at the carrots and sticks that the Democrats have over Hillary Clinton. First, the sticks:
- Campaign Debt. Hillary has amassed about $11 million dollars worth of campaign debt that, under McCain-Feingold, she must repay before the nominee is selected at the convention. $11 million is a lot of money, even to the Clintons, but most of it is owed to small suppliers. Has anyone ever accused the Clintons of looking out for the little guy?
- Obama’s Inevitability. The argument goes: once enough super delegates come to Obama, Hillary will have no choice but to concede to Obama. This argument is so utterly unhinged from the past 4 months, it borders on parody. Hillary Clinton has been mathematically eliminated since just after Super Tuesday. No one reasonably expected Hillary to be able to pull this out without a tremendous Yankees-lose-four-straight-to Boston style collapse by Obama. Once she lost those 10 straight primaries, the end was inevitable. Nothing has changed, and it won’t.
- Hillary’s Future In the Party. To think that Reid, Pelosi or Dean could threaten the Clintons with any plausible political damage is laughable. Half the time, Reid and Pelosi can’t even get their own colleagues to get behind legislation they themselves are backing. And trust me, Hillary Clinton covets this nomination far more than some farm subsidy.
And now the carrots. Ask yourself, what is it that Hillary Clinton is asking for:
- Florida and Michigan. If you think this is anything but a cynical ploy, you’re doing it wrong. Hillary does not care one iota about the voters or delegates of Florida and Michigan. How do I know? Before it mattered, her delegates to the DNC voted unanimously to strip both states of their delegates. The only reason Hillary cares about these delegates is that it gives her a reason to take the fight to the convention.
- The Vice Presidency. As I have mentioned before, Hillary does not want Obama to win. She wants him to fail miserably so that she and Bill can say “We told you so,” in 2012. If that is her strategy, she wants to stay off the ticket to avoid blame, while paying lip service to a united party. She will campaign for Obama, she may even hedge her bets by requesting a Supreme Court spot, a cabinet role or a choice ambassadorship, but she will not join the ticket.
- A speaking role at the convention. Try and deny her this. This is not even negotiable for Hillary. She will speak at the convention, whether Pelosi, Reid and Dean like it or not. With almost exactly half of the delegates on the floor being Hillary supporters, can you imagine the pandemonium if she is denied a prominent role? Moreover, the media, even with it’s pro-Obama drunken stupor, would have to cover Hillary’s competing press conference(s) and other distractions.
In my opinion, there is just no leverage to force Hillary out of the race. Hillary truly believes that Obama will be exposed before November as the Chicago political operative he is (she would know), and she has faith that McCain will not run for two terms. No matter the numbers, no matter the odds, Hillary will drag this out to the convention. She will make a big speech, a thinly veiled warning to those who vote for Obama. She will force a vote (maybe even several platform votes to embarrass Obama). She will set the stage for four years hence, when her new campaign theme will be “I told you so.”