Commentary Magazine


This Is Why Hillary Is Staying In The Race

Hillary Clinton is not stupid. She knows perfectly well that she’s not going to catch up with Barack Obama when it comes to delegates or the overall popular vote in the primaries, and that her lead with superdelegates is not at all secure. She’s staying in the race to see what happens — to lengthen it so that there is a chance Obama will implode for some reason or combination of reasons, leaving her to pick up the pieces.

When Hillary and her people talk about Obama’s lack of experience, they are not just talking about foreign policy and Washington voting. They are, implicitly, talking about his lack of experience with a hostile media. He has never been subjected to the withering examination of a reportorial or even punditorial pack — not in his service in the Illinois state senate, not in his 2004 Senate race, and not even when it came to his well-reviewed books. One never, ever knows how someone will hold up under such circumstances, or how quickly a reputation can be damaged.

Obviously, the repulsive statements of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, about how 9/11 represented “the chickens coming home to roost” for “White America” might represent a turning point — and one that would not have happened to benefit Hillary had she seen supposed reason and bowed out when it was clear she couldn’t win on points. Obama is fortunate this week to have had a ju-jitsu victory on the subject of race, parrying a remark about him by Geraldine Ferraro into a “nobody-is-allowed-to-raise-the-subject of-how-I-might-have-benefited-from-my-blackness” moment. That, and the Spitzer scandal, have kept the Wright story from getting full purchase in the media. But it’s out now, and even the extreme queasiness of the press in dealing with material that might be harmful to Obama can’t last forever.

And forever is a long time. The Pennsylvania primary is more than a month away. Maybe more will turn up to cause the superdelegates such concern about November that they will line up behind her foursquare. Politics is a dynamic business.