As a McCain supporter, it was nothing less than excitement and thrill for me watching the results of Tuesday night's primaries roll in. And no, I'm not talking about the fact that McCain finally passed the 1191 delegates mark, making him the presumptive nominee. McCain has been the presumptive nominee for weeks. It's just that poor Huckabee never got the memo until Tuesday night (perhaps they don't have cable news out there in Arkansas). My happy feelings were solely due to the sheer whipping that Senator Clinton handed down to Senator Obama.
And don't let anyone tell you differently, it was a smackdown. A terrible smackdown. Sure, Obama won Vermont, but did anyone expect different from one of the most liberal states in the northeast? He was devastated in Ohio, and while the overall numbers in Texas were close, that was only because of Obama support in the urban centers. Hillary won both district-wise as well as by a good amount of the popular vote.
My happy feelings are not because I have some deep-seated hatred for Obama. I really don't; I actually think he is a very nice guy, I felt bad for him giving his speech, the hope of so many, dashed by what the latte liberals would no doubt derisively call "middle America." I've delved into the issues I have with the policies of both Clinton and Obama, and it's here that I give no quarter to both Democratic candidates. Obama happens to be even more extreme than Hillary on some points, but I dislike both of their political stances. That said, and the source of my thrill and excitement, the results of Tuesday night have opened up a can of worms for the Democratic party that can't, that won't be put back anytime soon.
Is it possible that this is the first time the spoiler of an election was a member of the same party? Here is where we now stand in the Democratic primary:
Obama can no longer claim X number of straight victories. The gloss, the sheen, the perfect candidate no longer exists. By losing Ohio and Texas, Obama has proven that he isn't as invincible as the media has made him out to be, as his constituency wishes him to be. Losing three out of four on Tuesday night turned Obama from wunderkind into just another candidate vying for the DNC nod.
Much more importantly, that Hillary was able to take three out of four, at this late stage of the race, puts to rest the idea that the whole country is moving towards Obama. As we've all seen in previous primaries, as the race continues, there is generally less contention. The party starts to identify a leader, people hop on the wagon, and support grows. Yet while the media and Obamaniacs have lined up to christen Obama the general candidate, and have started to talk Clinton down "for the good of the party," three states stood up at this late date and said, wait, hold on a second…
It does not end there. The next major state is Pennsylvania. Hillary has been polling strongly there, and with these three recent wins in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, her chances look even better in Pennsylvania, despite gubernatorial support for Obama. She also has a chance to do well in the neighboring states in between Penn and Ohio.
The Rezko trial is beginning. Articles are starting to come out detailing the scandal, and it does not look good by any reading for Obama. Clearly it wasn't a coincidence, clearly Rezko was trying to do Obama a favor — not so far-fetched in Chicago politics. And this will inevitably lead to the question of what Rezko was looking for in return for his favors. Any way you slice it, this puts a damper on the idea of Obama promoting a new kind of politics, and at worst might be illegal.
Then, we get to the touchy subject of Florida and Michigan. Should Hillary also win in Pennsylvania, the Democrats will be in a no-win situation. Hillary will push the issue, and the Democratic party will face the choice of alienating their constituencies in two key general election states, or inject mass confusion and bad blood elsewhere by holding do-overs. Lawyers will get involved. In terms of ugliness, this will make the 2000 general election look like a Playboy centerfold by comparison.
All the while, Obama's missteps, which were swept under the rug in time for Super Tuesday, are starting to get more attention. It's conventional wisdom that Obama's position of talking with Iran has hurt his credentials as a leader. His efforts to "rise above it all" have led to comments by some (leftist) pundits that he isn't very tough. Obama's excellent oratory, combined with Clinton's attacks, have worked to further the notion that Obama is a great speaker but not much else. Then there is the recent NAFTA debacle. And a more detailed analysis of both candidates' platforms indicate that the real policy differences between the two are minor or non-existent. At that point, why wouldn't you choose a candidate with more experience?
You can be sure Hillary will continue to attack on all of those points. Obama will be forced to become more negative in order to show he isn't all sunshine and light. Meanwhile, McCain won't have to go on the attack regarding any of the above until the Democratic primary is sorted. He won't have to spend any money, he won't have to endure the media snipes. He can just focus on engaging his base, raising money, and rallying the troops for November.
By the time this does end up as a general election, the surviving candidate will be quite banged up, facing a fresh, funded, and truly "above it all" candidate in McCain. The only positive here for the Dems is that if Hillary does come through this primary victorious, no one can claim that the nomination was handed to her, as they were saying several months ago (SNL skit near Christmas to wit).
On the other hand, for the Republicans, I can't think of a more favorable way to close out the Bush presidency. To restate the (by now) old saw, in an election year where by all rights, the Democrats should have a lock on the presidency, they've done everything possible to ensure they won't win come November.