In fostering a sense among Democrats that an anti-Hillary campaign is to blame for her fortunes, Hillary Clinton is misjudging the relationship of her campaign to the greater good of the Democratic Party.
There was a point, after North Carolina and Indiana primaries two weeks ago, when political insiders believed that Hillary had accepted the stages of grief and mourning--difficult to do in a 24 hour news cycle--but that a period would ensue more gentle than the one preceding it and allow key supporters to acclimatize to prospects of an Obama presidency.
Now it feels like Hillary won't let go.
Hillary promised unity, when the campaign is over, but there is a feeling of a building vacuum that does not bode well for the Democrats. On TV, her campaign chair and former DNC head Terry McAuliffe sounds blustery and aggrieved; one Scotch from an angry fit.
In raising the race issue, as she did in West Virginia, Hillary was telling part of the truth: some white Democrats are drawn to Hillary because she is like them. For Obama to tell the whole truth-- that a president is defined by the quality of his character and not the color of his skin-- he needs room to move persuadable voters to abandon their prejudice. Much easier to do in an atmosphere of common purpose than a vacuum.
Prejudice is a base emotion easily tapped by fear, and fear is what the right-wing smear machine does par excellence, firing on all cylinders. Today, it is idling in neutral but you can hear it revving up in the snide asides of the bloviators. In anticipation of such full blown disgrace, GOP campaign strategist Mark McKinnon announced yesterday his intent to withdraw from any work for this presidential cycle.
In prolonging the agony, Hillary seems to be poisoning Obama's well. It is the last thing in the world he wants to say, and it may not even be the thing that Hillary wants to do.
On the other hand, there is no argument by her, or by spokespersons like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to convince American voters that a higher order of logic is at work: that every vote must count in Florida, for instance, in a botched primary where candidates agreed not to campaign.
On Hardball, Wasserman Schultz tried to make the argument that the candidates didn't need to "officially" campaign: that voters had all the information they needed to make their choice. She avoided the fact that the Clinton campaign machinery is particularly effective in Florida, of all blue states, and that Hillary had the advantage of 15 years plus fundraising and audience development based on her husband's popularity and skill at cultivating major Democratic donors.
The Florida primary was not a level playing field. What is the point of beating that dead horse?
If she strings Democratic voters along, through the Rules Committee meeting at the end of the month and all the way to the convention, Hillary is spinning a vacuum that few will forget or forgive. It needn't be so.
Obama has praised her campaign, her strength, intelligence, and capacity to engage millions of Americans. In this campaign, she did good.