The Democrats’ nightmare scenario: Clinton wins the wrong way

As I’ve said repeatedly, I remain a committed uncommitted in the race for the White House.  I’ve also been clear, however, that I have serious misgivings about Hillary Clinton.  My reasons are largely those expressed by Molly Ivins, as quoted at length in today’s edition of the BuzzFlash Editor’s Blog.

But if I’m cool on Clinton’s candidacy, I’m also far from a rabid opponent: In fact, I think she’d make a good president (although when compared to the incumbent who wouldn’t?).  And although I don’t think Clinton would be the Democrats’ strongest candidate this year, I suspect she’d probably still win assuming a fairly united Democratic Party.

But therein, of course, lies the nightmare scenario — an increasingly likely circumstance wherein Clinton wins the nomination, but in the process turns off so many Democrats and independents that she loses in the general election.  

Let me be clear: I have no problem with Clinton giving Obama hell.  God knows the GOP will give him plenty of it in the general election if he wins the nomination.  This is likely to be one of the nastiest campaigns in American history, as the corrupt old guard fights desperately to stave off their inevitable (eventual) extinction.

If Obama can’t take the heat from Clinton now, how can we possibly expect him to withstand the coming firestorm from these Swiftboating professionals?

But it’s one thing to give someone hell, and quite another to do it in a way that leaves scars that can’t be healed.  And what I’ve been seeing from the Clinton camp in recent days makes me wonder if they’re prepared to cross that line.  Has this become about victory at all costs?

Bill and Hillary don’t like losing — a trait the Democratic Party desperately needs as we approach one of the most important elections in American history.  But the party also needs all of the passion the Obama campaign has generated.  We need that new generation of energized activists and supporters, not just in 2008, but in building a new progressive majority in the years beyond.

Obama doesn’t have to win to keep this flame alive, but it could well die if he’s beaten by Clinton in the wrong way.  And a campaign that features attacks that can even remotely be construed as racist is THE WRONG WAY TIMES INFINITY. 

Now, I think Bill Clinton’s words on this issue have been unfairly taken out of context.  In fact, I don’t think anything either Bill or Hillary have said in the campaign can fairly be given a raciest spin: but the same can’t be said for the comments of their surrogates.  As Josh Marshall noted yesterday:

We seem to be at the point where there are now two credible possibilities. One is that the Clinton campaign is intentionally pursuing a strategy of using surrogates to hit Obama with racially-charged language or with charges that while not directly tied to race nonetheless play to stereotypes about black men. The other possibility is that the Clinton campaign is extraordinarily unlucky and continually finds its surrogates stumbling on to racially-charged or denigrating language when discussing Obama.

This is not the way for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination.  And if she does win it this way, it probably won’t end up being worth very much anyway.  And in the meanwhile, of course, extraordinary damage will have been done to the progressive movement.

6 Responses to “The Democrats’ nightmare scenario: Clinton wins the wrong way”

  1. Says:

    The Democrats nightmare scenario: Clinton wins the wrong way…

    This is not the way for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination. And if she does win it this way, it probably won’t end up being worth very much anyway. And in the meanwhile, of course, extraordinary damage will have been done to the progressive moveme…

  2. alwayshope Says:

    I am seeing it a little differently. The news I have seen is calling Hillary a racists over and over again. I really don’t believe the Clintons are racist.
    Her remarks were only meant to convey that it was a dem president who passed civil rights. I’m sure the last thing she wanted to do was disparage MLK! This is mountain out of a molehill stuff. Obama is the one who could diffuse this anger and has instead ramped it up.
    I know I waver all the time and neither of these are my first choice but if Obama wants my enthusiasm back he should stop this nastiness right now.
    If it’s true that Hillary’s people are using racist language then she should call them out and fire them but I’m not going to believe that she is fool enough to play the race card…….seems to me, Obama is playing it to his best advantage though.

    Don’t everybody jump on me at once! I’m just sayng I don’t think anyone is on the high road here.

  3. johncp Says:

    How ironic that a male candidate is the one getting the “sympathy,” and the female is treated as if she has no right to fair treatment. It’s poor little Obama, against the terrible ball-busting Hillary. What a farce. It should have been obvious to most people that media are out to destroy Hillary’s campaign. But everytime she arouses the tiniest sympathy, the Hillary-haters cry foul, and she’s accused of using the “gender card;” but Obama is treated as if he’s a wounded baby. No wonder Karl Rove is doing everything in his power, to advance Obama’s campaign; so many dems are falling for Rove’s game, it seems too good to be true, for the republicans.

  4. Larkrise Says:

    Alwayshope, I am with you! I am no big fan of Hillary Clinton, but to construe her remark about MLK and LBJ as racist is really a stretch. Dr. King was a humanitarian, an activist, and a symbol for mankind to work for justice for all people. He was not a politician in the sense of Johnson. He did not run for election. It took a person IN government to get the law in place. That, in no sense, denigrates Dr. King’s accomplishments. It showed that he was able to inspire people in government to work to GET the law changed. I believe the Media is to blame for this mountain out of a mole hill. They are lusting for a dust-up, for a racially charged fight, and they will manufacture one. The Repugs would like nothing better than to see one, too. Since the corporate-owned Media is, for the most part, on their side, the result is a lot of manufactured BS. If Obama has used this to his advantage, it is politics as usual, not any kind of “Change.” He should call the Media on it, not enable it. I dont support either Clinton or Obama, really. My first choice is John Edwards. But, my absolute, top choice is to send the Repugs back to their caves. Falling for the Media’s scams is not going to facilitate that.Their only interest is to sell more papers and/or advertising. Controversy and personalities are the path of least resistance for them. Truth is always at the bottom of their list. This is why millions of us despise “politics as usual.” The issues and any reasonable solutions to problems get lost in pettiness, mudslinging, lies and exaggerations. The Media loves to focus on personalities instead of the serious problems that have beset the nation. It is much easier to write about drivel. Don’t buy into it.

  5. Again Says:

    alwayshope, johncp

    The news I have seen is calling Hillary a racists over and over again….
    that media are out to destroy Hillary’s campaign..

    actually, that is what i also thought - typical made up thingy: Use discrimination for what discrimination is good for - to beat someone without getting in trouble! Then add to this the old “Divide et Impera”

    and dinner is ready - for The Laughing Third…

    (btw: that doesn’t stop me from being sceptical about the “professionality” of the Clinton camp’s attacks on Obama - honestly: who needs enemies with “friends” like that? Can we afford an American president without the least touch of decency or willingness for fair play or - mind you - for team play? Just win, win, win - me, me, me? Global Warming is looming, elites! )

  6. FreeDem Says:

    I don’t like anyone running, it is only that Republicans are worse that will get me to vote for whoever wins, no matter how they do it. I have no doubt that the swiftboating will be massive, I have already gotten push polls about the Primary debacle here in Florida that might be effective on someone with less Internet savvy.

    That said the candidates own handlers are little better than the Republicans for shooting down their campaigns. However there is one big difference in that any Democrat will be much more susceptible to Blogswarming than any Republican, and if any good is going to come of a presumptive Democratic Congress and Whitehouse, it will take a very active net roots keeping them with very scorched feet.

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