Weekly Presidential Politics - 5/2/07
Don't let the courteous Democratic debate fool you. With a Democratic Congress soon to be fragmented over the country's most hotly debated issue, the candidates for the Democratic nomination will soon follow. In time, the candidates will stop teaming up against President Bush and start attacking each other in an effort to secure the party's nomination. At the center of this will be Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton's greatest advantage will end up being her downfall. No, I don't mean her gender. No, I don't mean her husband. No, I don't mean her possible-but-unlikely tapped supply of donors. I mean that Camp Clinton, thanks to the fullest campaign war chest in the country, has the potential to be a political menace of Darth Maulian proportions. You hit the Clintons and they will hit you back faster than you can say Cascius Clay. In the past, Barack Obama and John Edwards have both been the recipient of innocuous salvoes. But how long will the Clinton campaign play nice?
Other campaigns, though they will understandably never admit fallibility until after they drop out (See Tom Vilsack), fear this perpetual potential of a counter-strike as if it were a blow from the Almighty Himself. Senator Clinton, it seems, is in possession of the Democratic Party's version of the fabled Doomsday Machine, made most famous in Dr. Strangelove and a Star Trek episode. The idea behind the Doomsday Machine is that it is a weapon so powerful that, if deployed, it threatens mutual annihilation. The purpose is to overly-intimidate your enemies so they will never open fire against you. If you followed this questionable metaphor, you’d see that she has the potential to sink the Democrats chances in November. So do the rest of the candidates risk attacking her?
If they want to win, I think they have to. She'll be the frontrunner until someone takes her down OR until she takes herself down, and the latter cannot be counted on. We will see a handful of candidates make hay of her war stance, specifically her reputation, earned or not, of straddling the fence and blowing with the political wind. However, any shots taken at Mrs. Clinton will be reciprocated, and trust me, it won't be a proportional response.
The outcome? Hillary Clinton is going to make enemies this election cycle. There is a very strong chance this will come back to haunt her in the first couple months of primary season. To disgruntle her Democrat rivals might mean that, come Super Tuesday and beyond, some voters will consider her their top choice... with the rest not even having her in their top three. She won't get endorsements from other ex-candidates unless her nomination is sewn up. Therefore, any of the other candidates that can position themselves as everyone's second choice will have a decent chance of winning more delegates to the convention (read: winning the primary and becoming the nominee).
Last week, I guaranteed John McCain would win the Republican nomination. This week, I'm here to tell you, the Democratic nomination is up for grabs.