Our long national nightmare is over.
That's what Gerald Ford said upon being sworn in as Nixon's successor, but it's the way I'm starting to feel today. Sure, I'm overstating things. The Obama/Clinton contest has been anything but a nightmare for the GOP. A contested primary is nowhere near as damaging to the Democrats as Nixonland was. The point, though, is that after last night, all but paid partisans like Lanny Davis are starting to rally behind Barack Obama as the presumptive nominee.
I first noticed this by monitoring HinesSight last night. Hines has been consistently, staunchly, and even militantly pro-Clinton. He has headlined nearly every news story about the campaign with a Clinton spin. Much as I've disagreed with him--and even been mildly irritated by him--I admire him for sticking to his guns and putting the best possible face on a weak hand. But last night, Hines threw in the towel; the lede on his site called Obama the "presumptive nominee." As I write this, headlines include:
Historic Nominee: Barack Obama, After a Long and Hard Campaign, Becomes the Presumptive Nominee of the Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton Loaned Campaign $6.4 Million, Plans to Keep Going
Clinton Fails to Change the Game
How Obama Got His Momentum Back
Disappointing, Close Win for Clinton in Indiana
At Cliniton HQ, Defeat Hangs Heavy in the Air
Clinton Aides Doubtful About Future
As for Clinton's chances going ahead, they are minimal. I gave about a 10% shot after she won TX & OH, and upped that to 15% after her PA win, and around 20% a week ago. Now, it's slimmer than ever before. There's little doubt that, considering any marker, Obama is on the path to the nomination, now more than ever. Congrats to all his supporters on a good night.
At the same site, Todd Beeton proclaims that "The Tie Has Been Broken":
The upshot is that there is no way to spin away what happened tonight: Senator Clinton had a really bad night and Senator Obama had a phenomenal one. It's impossible to overstate the significance of what he accomplished, not only considering what he's overcome over the past three weeks but also considering how decisively he denied Clinton what she needed to continue to have a credible path to the nomination. To put it plainly, tonight was her final shot and she needed to win Indiana by 8-10% and to lose NC by 1-3%; in other words she needed to do about 10% better in each state than she did in order to keep Michigan and Florida relevant and the popular vote in play for superdelegates. Unfortunately, she was unable to do either. Zogby was right this time and Survey USA...and I...were wrong.
Which leads me to the conclusion, sadly, that I no longer see a real path to victory for Hillary Clinton and I now believe Barack Obama will be the nominee of our party.
When people like Hines, Armstrong and Beeton who have loyally and strongly supported Clinton's candidacy effectively cede the race to Obama, something fundamental has changed. The theme I see on these and other progressive sites is that the contest is over; now it's time to start the healing.
To that end, Andrew Sullivan makes the best case possible for an Obama/Clinton ticket. I'm still not convinced--I think that putting a hack like Clinton on the ticket might demoralize many of the people who see Obama as a new kind of politician--but I'll admit that Sullivan's argument is pretty persuasive. Tim Russert has even floated the idea that Obama could offer to take over Clinton's campaign debt in exchange for her accepting the Veep slot. Various bloggers are suggesting that Obama and Clinton join forces and campaign together in the remaining states and Puerto Rico.
While Clinton's supporters are starting to bow to the inevitable, Obama supporter John Cole (who has just been on fire of late) comes closest to articulating my thoughts right now:
Now, can we get to the very serious business of dismantling the GOP? I have a very serious axe to grind, and it is deeply, deeply personal for me. There are a bunch of frauds, crooks, and phonies with whom I have a serious grudge that I want to settle. You see, I still have my “Peace Through Strength” button from when I campaigned for Reagan. I believed in limited government, I believed in a strong national defense, I believed in fiscal restraint and balanced budgets and I believed in personal integrity and individual liberty and personal freedom.
I am pissed. I want the frothing nutters, the fraudulent hucksters, the race-baiters, the anti-science frauds, the anti-intellectuals, the gay-bashers, the big-money cheats, the torture fetishists, the religious nuts, the tax and spenders, the xenophobes, and the phonies to pay. I want payback. I want the people who ruined my former party relegated to permanent minority status. I know I am a newly minted Democrat, and, as such, it is ballsy for me to start telling you what I want from the party, but this is my website and you are just going to have to deal with my opinion.
I am under no illusion I will buy into everything Barack Obama puts forward, but I am damned sure convinced he is a decent man who, at the very least, will restore a sense of competence to the national stage. I am willing to meet most Democrats half-way, and I am already doing everything I can to get this man elected. I think Obama will act in good faith for this nation, and I am responding in kind. His policies are not outlandish or crazy or uber-left- they reflect a rational, and I would argue, a decent and progressive way forward out of the mess I helped to create. I won’t like all of them, and I will not agree with all of them, but there is no chance that I will ever be President, so perfect agreement is never a possibility.
And don’t get me wrong- I am not for Obama because of what I am against. I am for Obama because he is a decent man, a break from the past, and really a once in a lifetime opportunity. He has treated us like adults throughout this primary, and it is time to act like adults. There will be times we feel he lets us all down, but we are not electing a diety. We are electing a leader, and Obama is that leader. It is time to get past the bullshit of the last 20 years, the battles I am really tired of fighting, and time to turn our attention to the really important issues of the day- the economy, the budget, our international presence, our crumbling infrastructure, our military, medicare and medicaid and social security, and on and on and on.
If Barack Obama was not your your preferred candidate, I am sorry that person did not win, but it is time to remember that the target is John McCain and the Bush/Cheney way of doing things.
In keeping with that notion, this will be my last post under the Primary 2008 category. On to November.