John Edwards' nod is mostly symbolic, but symbolism matters.

Down and on the way out.
May 15 2008 3:57 PM

The Hillary Deathwatch

John Edwards' nod is mostly symbolic, but symbolism matters.

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Endorsements from formerly coy John Edwards and the United Steelworkers for Obama are two more nails in the Clinton coffin. Clinton's odds drop 1.1 to 1.8 percent.

Whatever momentum Clinton picked up from her 41-point West Virginia win the Obama camp snuffed out with the Edwards coup de grâce. Edwards sat on his endorsement until long after its game-changing power expired, so the damage to Clinton's flicker of a campaign is more symbolic than anything. The crux of his "everyone's doing it" speech last night in Michigan was that he was mimicking the will of the voters. Because he waited, Edwards' decision to finally choose a horse reinforces the "it's over" story line. Watch this narrative get another boost next week when Obama clinches the pledged delegate lead for good. (He'll hit a majority of the 3,254 pledged delegates even if he narrowly loses Oregon.)

Perhaps more importantly, Edwards hands Obama the steelworkers. The Pennsylvania primary may have come and gone, but this 600,000-strong union of iconic blue-collar workers should help assuage fears that Obama simply can't attract any support in this demographic—although Kentucky's primary will be the real test.

The last bit of election news today comes courtesy of George W. Bush. In an address to the Irsaeli parliament today, he took a swipe at those who would meet and talk with "terrorists and radicals," which many people took as a pot shot at Obama. (Clinton tweaked Obama on the same issue at a debate last summer.)


Multiple choice time. Does this:

a) Benefit Obama, showing that he is part of the foreign-policy establishment and at odds with a historically unpopular president?

b) Hurt Obama by making voters queasy about putting this largely untested candidate at the helm?

For now, possibly for the sake of keeping Clinton in positive figures, we're going to split the difference between a) and b) and call it a wash.

For a full list of our Deathwatches, click here. For a primer on Hillary's sinking ship, visit our first Deathwatch entry. Send your own prognostications to

Chris Wilson is a Slate contributor.



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