With Hillary Clinton's lopsided win in West Virginia on Tuesday, the Democratic primary process has moved from historical epic to literary tragedy. Clinton stars as Queen Lear, exiled to the hinterlands of Appalachia by a Regan coalition of blacks and college-educated liberals. While she delivers martial oratory over the fight to come, her victorious opponents call for her head. The questions animating commentators have shifted from "What will happen?" to "What does it mean?" Fraysters in the Politics Fray have a number of sharp answers.
Philidor weaves the facts of this long campaign season into a narrative of Hillary's betrayal and Obama's coming doom:
The story of the nomination has been Barack Obama beginning strongly, but then losing. Hillary Clinton made a comeback. Then, quietly, in caucuses and not especially prominent elections, his organization gathered enough votes to put him in the lead while the public waited for the contest to begin again.
And then, with the country paying attention, he lost badly, dramatically in almost every major contest. His reaction: somberly, I have the votes, she can't hurt me.
And there's Hillary Clinton, campaigning while the press gloats over Obama, shouting at the Democratic electorate the race is over, your vote doesn't matter unless you vote for Obama and end the primaries. Low on money, without a good image except for her determination in difficult circumstances, she wins again and again.
Are these votes for her? Yes, to a degree. But the people are shouting back at the race callers: "We don't want Obama. You won't force him on us while we can vote."
And so the super delegates will move to Obama against the highly visible trend in Hillary Clinton's favor, making the nomination look like a back room deal ignoring the most dramatic elections.
Barack Obama will stand before the general electorate with his wife and his pastor (visible or invisible) and his lapel bare of a flag pin and he will announce: I will unite the country. And those who wanted another candidate, those who wanted someone inspiring rather than a drab player of ordinary politics will wonder where he got that idea.
The press will applaud, the self-righteous elite will speak of the triumph of the country that a black candidate represents. But how many in the public will consider the election already a failure from the Democratic side?
Barack Obama's substantial defeats piled one atop the other are the image of the reaction to his character. And when some people have begun to wonder whether he even likes the US, he has a huge challenge becoming a viable candidate.
Though there are many laments from disappointed Clinton supporters at the injustice of it all, the general tenor of the Fray seems to lean in Obama's direction. kaizergrande offers up the little-heralded Nebraska primary as a rebuttal to this week's talking point:
Something nobody seemed to notice last night. Barack Obama won the Nebraska primary on the same night West Virginia voted. Like West Virginia, Nebraska is a mostly white, mostly rural, mostly working class state; and also like WV its primary was totally irrelevant to the outcome of the Democratic Party nomination.
Watching the talking heads overanalyze the Dem primary is like watching a constantly looping episode of the Twilight Zone. A freshman senator is beating the most famous woman in the world and wife of a former president in an intra party election and somehow it's the new guy that's falling short because he's not winning 100% of the vote?
The media's pornographic obsession with the so called white working class vote demonstrates the innate bigotry that exists in even the so called liberal media. Nobody's freaking out about Hillary winning only 8% of the black vote even though she can't win the general election without a huge majority of that vote. Personally I prefer the racism that comes from ignorance to that which masquerades as intellectual discourse.
Many posters seek to tamp down the hysteria that overanalysis of election results incites. Darsan54 takes the award for pithiest expression of this argument: "Barack Obama is not Hypno Toad." The Real RML notes that Clinton's support may have more to do with West Virginia's martial spirit than ethnic politics:
West Virginia is one of the poorest states in America and its population one of the least educated. It's no surprise they provide a substantial number of volunteers for the military (which of course they pride themselves on). So Hillary won in a state which is mostly white, mostly pro war in Iraq, and makes up little else in the grand scheme of things.
Yes, the Democrats will not win in West Virginia. Just as no Republican will win in Massachusetts. Sometimes you need to accept that you cannot win them all and move on. Obama was smart not to waste time in West Virginia and Hillary may have found an easy win here. But, come November, McCain is military and West Virginia loves their number one export.
If you're looking to join in tomorrow's debate today, Richmond started a nice thread on the coming vice-presidential nomination. His abstract nominee would be:
Old politics. White. Sort of rough-around-the-edges. Not McDreamy with the visions and common purpose. Someone his wife won't be comfortable with. Or his pastor. Someone who talks bread-and-butter. Who doesn't mind the flag pin. Someone with a weird regional accent. Who eats carbs. Maybe owns a gun. And uses it. Obamatons, prepare yourself for a Veep that will keep you awake at night.
To those of you hopelessly addicted to the unfolding drama of this political campaign season, we'd like to issue a challenge—what famous literary work best captures the dramatic elements of the Obama/Clinton race? Please share your political lit-crit with us in the Fraywatch Fray. GA … 8:15 p.m. PDT