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Hillary’s To-Do List

The MSM is convinced that Barack Obama “solved” his Reverend Jeremiah Wright problem and that his lead in the pledged delegate count, coupled with the failures of Michigan and Florida to agree on re-vote procedures, have doomed Hillary Clinton’s chances for the nomination. But there are weeks of primary races yet to go and all the decisive superdelegates have yet to commit to a candidate. So, although the MSM is ready to write her epitaph, Clinton still has an opportunity to halt the Obama coronation. How?

Her main task is to force regular primary voters and superdelegates to consider what would befall the Democrats if Obama can carry, at most, 30% of the white vote in the general election. That was roughly his total in Ohio and Texas (among Democratic primary voters) before the Wright revelations. In large measure she can accomplish this by an overpowering victory in Pennsylvania and by driving his vote among white, working-class voters downward. Hence, we saw junkyard dog Bill Clinton muse that a Clinton-McCain race would see two candidates that “love their country.” This is a swipe at Obama’s patriotism aimed squarely at those working class voters who don’t much appreciate Michelle Obama’s lack of pride in her country or Obama’s disparagement of Americans who wear a flag label pin.

Clinton would also do well to respond to Obama’s successful countercharge that her “experience,” especially in foreign affairs, is negligible. (The release of the White House schedules, as one might expect, did not show her to be in the Situation Room or negotiating with foreign leaders.) She might start by explaining what she learned (e.g. the necessity of using force at times, for example in Bosnia) rather than fabricating what she did. There is something to be said for observing firsthand the realities of threats to America. Her mistake was to pad her résumé.

Clinton might also seek to address the perception (deserved) that she surrounds herself with incompetent and mean-spirited flunkies whom she cannot manage. What to do? A thorough housecleaning of her campaign staff and a dismissal of the hapless Mark Penn might help.

Finally, Clinton might further deflate the Obama balloon by questioning his political courage. (The netroots are already miffed that he voted to continue Iraq war funding despite his stated misgivings about the war.) She has already planted the seeds: What about all those “present” votes in the Illinois state senate? Rather than criticize his speeches as empty rhetoric, Clinton would do better to characterize them as a poor substitute for courageous stands and a proven track record of bucking the status quo. That line has the advantage of provoking worries among the Democratic base (is he really going to stand up to Republicans and fight for the our agenda?) and suggesting to independents (who might be decisive in the remaining open primaries) that Obama is a follower, not a brave maverick.

At the very least, some of these steps might slow down the media rush to crown Obama.



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