Let’s say Mitt Romney wins Florida and consolidates Republican regulars, winning the nomination within the next few weeks. Say Hillary Clinton does much the same, grinding down the Obama campaign through a combination of managerial prowess, voter suppression and intimidation, slander by proxy, and enthusiastic efforts to fuel interethnic antagonism. (Who knew that Hillary Clinton, she of the Children’s Defense Fund, would so adamantly try to bring Peter Brimelow’s vision of American politics to life.)
Remember, the Clintons are always saintly victims. Indeed, one wonders if the Obama campaign was in fact financed by Richard Mellon Scaife in an effort to prevent Hillary Clinton from single-handedly solving all of America’s problems through vigorous application of stick-to-it-iveness and unsurpassed intellect, an approach that, as you all know, worked brilliantly for Robert McNamara in Vietnam. That Clinton hasn’t been named Maximum Proconsul of North America by unanimous acclamation itself demonstrates that the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is alive, well, and stronger than ever. If you haven’t heard about the Obama-Scaife connection yet, rest assured that it might appear in a robocall to come, or an email forward like those alleging that Senator Obama is an anti-Semitic black nationalist.
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow …
Most people think that Senator Clinton would easily win a general election against Romney thanks to Democratic unity, Bush fatigue, Iraq, economic woes, and Romney’s many weaknesses: his Gore-like unctuousness and Kerry-like flip-flopping, his Mormon faith, and, worst of all, the fact that he actually ran a large and successful for-profit corporation, which is apparently grounds for execution.
But recall that John Kerry very nearly defeated Bush. We’re still dealing with a very polarized electorate. And note that accusations of ferocious anti-black racism leveled against Romney, which by the way will almost certainly be made (and will center on long-abandoned aspects of Mormon teaching) probably won’t pass the laugh test. Mitt Romney is many things, but a Dixie-whistling good ol’ boy isn’t one of them. Threatening he’s not. It’s easy to imagine black voters staying home in large numbers. Add in the fact that, as Brad Plumer reminds us, Sheldon Adelson is prepared to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into issue ads targeting Democratic opponents of staying and fighting (and dying) in Iraq.
Much the same logic applies a fortiori if John McCain is the Republican nominee. Of two old, tired, overfamiliar faces, which one will be more appealing to swing voters after a slash-and-burn campaign in which the Clintons bashed Hope Personified in the kneecaps, in part by aligning with the most nationalist slice of the Latino political class?
Viva Hillary! Viva!
Like Ross, I think Obama has a bright future. I also think that he will probably be our next Democratic president whether or not he wins he nomination this year.
Let me explicitly state my biases. I have many friends working on the Obama campaign and, as I’ll explain, I think Obama has a broadly plausible worldview, which is more than I can say for Clinton. Also, I’ve long been a McCain enthusiast. The trouble, of course, is that Obama wants to run against McCain: the contrast in age and vigor works powerfully to Obama’s advantage. As for Romney, I’ve softened on him as a candidate, perhaps because I have a fairly low opinion of almost all politicians. And despite his technocratic mien, Romney sometimes appears to be the only candidate who doesn’t believe that American workers are tiny children.
Then there’s Senator Clinton. Close friends of mine know that I have a soft spot for her. I often remark that I think we would’ve been great friends during her Alinskyite days, and I often defend her as a sober Midwestern centrist, not a left-wing radical. (A baseless and ridiculous charge, in my view. But again, I like many left-wing radicals.) She also can’t imagine being wrong. That’s terrifying. We’ve lived through two terms of a president who can’t imagine being wrong! Who in their right mind would want to go through another?