If Hillary Clinton wins this nomination, it will be a theft.
For her to win, she will have to convince her party and its superdelegates that despite losing the pledged delegate total and winning fewer states, she should be the nominee.
And she just might do it.
If she pulls off a win in Indiana and as the polls suggest, makes North Carolina a race in the way that Obama made Pennsylvania a race, then she will be hard to stop.
She will have the ammunition she needs to continue to make her case that she is stronger and tougher and more electable than Barack Obama.
She will start twisting arms and squeezing superdelegates, using all the power she has amassed within the party over the past two decades, to force those who haven’t decided to go for her.
Then, she’ll move on to those who have already committed to Obama and try and get them to switch back.
And if she wins Indiana, does well in North Carolina and then follows up with big victories in some of the remaining states, like Kentucky, Nebraska and New Mexico, her arm twisting and popular vote lead just might work.
Lots of folks think it isn’t fair that a guy like Obama, who has done so well by playing strictly by the rules, could lose this nomination.
I agree. It isn’t fair.
But fair isn’t the point. Winning is. And anyone who disagrees with that statement should not be in politics.
It isn’t fair that George Bush Jr. beat Al Gore. It isn’t fair that Michael Dukakis lost, in part, because of some dumb-ass criminal was a repeat offender. Goldwater shouldn’t have lost to Johnson because of a fear mongering attack ad about nuclear war. And McGovern shouldn’t have had to pick his VP based on gerrymandering of the convention by Nixon supporters in his own party.
None of it is fair.
All of it is about winning.
And Hillary Clinton is better at winning than any other politician currently running for President. Better than Obama. Better than McCain. And clearly better than any of the other discarded candidates.
So, when she starts losing, she does the only thing she can — she changes the rules.
Right now, it’s about winning the popular vote. Anyone who knows the primary system knows that popular vote doesn’t actually mean anything.
In fact, the system is designed to ensure that popular vote doesn’t decide the outcome.
But there she is, talking about a popular vote victory, and trying to use that benchmark to manipulate the one remaining lever available to her — superdelegates.
The irony of course is that if she wins the popular vote and manages to win enough superdelegates to carry the day, she will have won completely within the rules.
She can only win by getting the most votes at the convention. If she has to distort things a bit to get that done, so be it.
Because she doesn’t care about fair. She cares about winning.
Of course, Obama is running on platform to change all that. He wants to bring a new approach to Washington that will forever change that way it works.
He wants to bring a bit of democracy back to the process (except popular vote democracy, of course).
He wants to bring a reasoned approach to government. He wants to break into the Washington clique and shake it up.
But to do that, he needs to be more than fair. He needs to win.
And so far, he’s having trouble with that part of it. He can’t seem to close the deal, because every time he turns around, the deal is changing.
His opponent is twisting the system and keeping her campaign alive just long enough for things like this week’s Rev. Wright debacle to chip away at his success to date.
All of which begs the question how can Obama remain fair and keep his integrity, but still win?
The answer is painfully simple — he needs a little help from Hillary.
The last big Democrat reformer, McGovern, died at the hands of his own party. It was McGovern who led the charge to change the old primary system to the system we have now.
That system is serving Obama well, but it killed McGovern because at the time it pissed off so many within the party.
As a result, those folks derailed McGovern’s choice for VP, saddling him with a depressive who hid the fact that he had once received shock therapy.
So, the system changed, but McGovern got clobbered by a crook named Dick.
If Obama wins Indiana and North Carolina on Tuesday (or if he wins in any scenario), he will be the fruit of McGovern’s labour.
He will be the final victory over old-style politics where backrooms, not voters, pick nominees.
But what he can’t afford is another McGovern moment, where a good chunk of the party abandons him and stays out of the fray, or worse, backs the GOP horse.
For that happen, he needs Hillary to bring her supporters and her clout and her money to him. He will need to convince the ultimate politician that being political isn’t in her interest.
Right now, she is changing the game so she can win.
But later, if he gets this thing wrapped up, she’ll have to change the game one more time.
She’ll have to work against every instinct in her being and change the game into one where a united party gets behind a single candidate to work towards winning the White House.
She has to make it about being fair, rather than about winning.
Michael Hale is a former journalist and political hack who is wondering how he can be such a nice guy and still espouse such awful ideas about politics. You can read his commentaries at north60hale.blogspot.com