As Mark Twain would have put it: Reports of her political death have been exaggerated. Hillary Clinton did what she had to do in Pennsylvania. And Barack Obama was not the only loser of its primary. Taking it on the chin are all the pundits who had been predicting Hillary’s political demise since Iowa and all the party big shots who have been demanding that “this thing be shut down.”
Hillary’s acceptance speech was something Karl Rove and George W. Bush could be proud of. Just as the two Republicans turned back John McCain’s challenge in 2000 by presenting Bush as the true “reformer” (a tag the media had pinned on McCain), Hillary stole Obama’s theme of “hope” when he wasn’t looking. Her strategy became evident when the New York senator walked on stage to chants of “yes she can.” She lost little time describing her envisioned presidency in terms of “possibilities.” She ended with the pledge, “yes we will.” Throughout her speech, she did more than hint that she understood what produced her victory: middle America’s love of country and belief in the “promise of America.”
Her victory was as much the product of voters’ increasing discomfort with her opponent as it was a vote of confidence in Hillary and her campaign. Yes, Barack Obama and the media will have Hillary to kick around for several more weeks — perhaps even months. The way the Democrats will find their way out of their dilemma is becoming visible. “Super-delegates,” wary of discounting the views of their constituents, in name of “letting every vote count,” will be free to vote for Obama when the balloting begins, but only after first voting Hillary’s way by finding some way to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan. That is how these brave nail-biters can vote for both Barack and Hillary. Remember you heard it here first. But don’t breathe a word of it to the press. They are always the last to know.
– Alvin S. Felzenberg is author of the forthcoming Leaders We Deserved and a Few We Didn’t: Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game.