Taking the High Road

Barack Obama is once again showing that he has the ability to take the high road and give people the benefit of the doubt — even when those same people have not been so forgiving in the return.

Hillary was talking to the editorial board at the Argus Leader in South Dakota on Friday, and she let the following gaffe slip:

“People have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa,” Clinton said Friday. “I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don’t understand it.

“You know, my husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary sometime in the middle of June. Right?” she added later in the conversation. “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just– I don’t understand it.”

Immediately, it created a firestorm — was Hillary talking about staying in the race in case Obama got assassinated during the summer? After all, Hillary has said some other pretty devisive things lately, and the stress and frustration is really starting to show on her.

The spokesman from the Obama Campaign was quick to come out with a less that gracious response, spokesman Bill Burton said the remarks were “unfortunate”. Political Pundits jumped all over the quote andsome pundits were saying that Clinton had reached a “new low:”

Hillary, ashen-faced, quickly apologized, saying that she meant no offense. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said the following:

“It is clear from the context that Hillary was invoking a familiar political circumstance in order to support her decision to stay in the race through June.”

Today, Barack Obama issued his own statement saying:

“I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Sen. Clinton and I have been campaigning,” he told the Puerto Rico Radio ISLA, “sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make. And I think that is what happened here.

“Sen. Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it,” he added, “and I would take her at her word on that.”

I don’t think she meant anything by it either. Some might think it was a Freudian slip, but I doubt it. But I do think that she is playing “Really Bad Analogies”. Yes, people have been urging her to get out of the race — not because they “hate” her, but because she doesn’t have a chance of winning. When it has become obvious to just about everyone that there is no way she will ever win enough delegates with what is left, then people think it is time to shut it down and take the loss.

Her example about Bill’s 1992 election is a lot different than her current situation. In the 1992 election, Bill actually had a chance of winning with the California Primary. There isn’t enough delegates left with the Montana and Puerto Rico to catch up let alone overtake Obama’s lead.

Her example concerning the 1968 election — forget the assassination remarks — is also a bad analagy, for it proves what people are trying to tell her: the longer this thing is dragged out, the less chance that the eventual nominee will have of winning in November. In 1968, Hubert H. Humphrey became the nominee without ever having run a primary election. He was nominated on the convention floor. The result was that Richard Nixon won in 1968.

The point is, history has shown that if a heavily contested primary has to be decided on the convention floor, then it is almost a sure guarantee that the nominee will lose in the general election.

The last primary is on June 3rd. Within a couple of days, the majority of the Super Delegates still outstanding are likely to make up their minds on who they are going to endorse. Hillary is hoping that the Rules and Bylaws committee will decide at the end of this month to award her the delegates she thinks she “won” in both Florida and Michigan. It is more likely that the rules committee will split them equally between Clinton and Obama, which doesn’t give Hillary any advantage. Her idea is for the rules committee to allow both states to seat their delegates without penalty, so she can claim a higher popular vote number than Obama.

She wants to be able to use a two-forked argument in order to sway the Super Delegates:

She will try to claim that with Michigan and Florida, she won more popular votes than Obama. This would be kind of true, but she also won them where Obama wasn’t even on the ballot. There are also several states that didn’t record the voting numbers.

She also wants to point out that she won in all the “important” states like West Virgina and Kentucky.

The problem with the second argument is that she won in a primary, NOT the general election. There is no guarantee that she will carry those states in the general. In fact, given the trends over the past couple of election cycles, Bush carried both of those states in larger margins. The reason is, the demographics of both states are changing. Younger Democrats are moving away, leaving older Democrats who are really Republican in their thinking behind.

Election demographics change over time. While West Virginia might have been important for Democrats in the past, it probably isnt’ going to be that way this time.