The Corner

Talking-Point Failure

It seems to me that the biggest proof that the Clinton campaign is in a flop-sweating panic is that while they are desperately trying to scrounge-up super delegates, they aren’t doing anything to make their use more palatable to the Democratic base or to the political press. Even if she could win over super-delegates in a nominal way, she can’t use them unless the party and the press consider it legitimate to decide the nomination via super-delegates. Right now, surrogates should be spouting analogies that make her case. “A race isn’t over if nobody crosses the finish line” or some such should have been repeated so often we should be sick of hearing it already.

The Clintons used to be masterful about staying on message like this. During the impeachment debates, Clinton’s surrogates spoke with one voice about how “the president is not above the law, but he’s not below the law either.” No Clinton sock puppet was allowed to exhale a breath without calling Ken Starr a dirty tobacco lawyer. But now there seems to be no such discipline or foresight in Clinton land.

As Jim Robbins noted the other day, the media narrative is that Clinton can’t catch up to Obama. But the reality is that Obama can’t win either. Neither of then can get enough delegates to keep the supers from deciding this thing.

The Obama people have the best possible framing of the issue right now. Basically, they cast the contest like boxing match: Whoever is ahead on points when the bell rings should automatically be declared the winner by the judges. The Clintons need to change that interpretation. One way to do that is to say that the race isn’t over if no one crosses the finish line. Another is to say the judges don’t have to decide the thing on points. After all, the reason there are super-delegates is because they are undemocratic, right? They’re supposed to have the best interests of the party in mind, not the passions of the primary voters.

There may be better analogies out there. But the point is the Clintons don’t have any. And, I don’t care if Harold Ickes has a whole floor at Clinton HQ dedicated to scrounging up super-votes. If the Clintons don’t provide a rationale that allows super-votes for Hillary to seem legitimate, she simply won’t get them.

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