I don’t agree with Peggy Noonan often, but this made me nod my head in agreement.
What, really, is Mrs. Clinton doing? She is having the worst case of cognitive dissonance in the history of modern politics. She cannot come up with a credible, realistic path to the nomination. She can’t trace the line from “this moment’s difficulties” to “my triumphant end.” But she cannot admit to herself that she can lose. Because Clintons don’t lose. She can’t figure out how to win, and she can’t accept the idea of not winning. She cannot accept that this nobody from nowhere could have beaten her, quietly and silently, every day. (She cannot accept that she still doesn’t know how he did it!)
She is concussed. But she is a scrapper, a fighter, and she’s doing what she knows how to do: scrap and fight. Only harder. So that she ups the ante every day. She helped Ireland achieve peace. She tried to stop Nafta. She’s been a leader for 35 years. She landed in Bosnia under siege and bravely dodged bullets. It was as if she’d watched the movie “Wag the Dog,” with its fake footage of a terrified refugee woman running frantically from mortar fire, and found it not a cautionary tale about manipulation and politics, but an inspiration.
Let me explain ‘how he did it’. It’s actually really simple. He set up organizations in places like Alaska and Idaho while Clinton was focusing all her effort on much more expensive races in California and New Jersey. As a result, he wound up getting slightly more delegates on Super Tuesday than Hillary did. And, he had laid the groundwork for the next string of states, which were also, somewhat fortuitously, good states for his message. Clinton had not done much advance work in those states and, as a result, she got her clock cleaned by whopping margins in states like Virginia, Maryland, and Wisconsin. By that point there was no recovery, and we have been operating with the fiction that Clinton can win the nomination since the polls closed in Wisconsin (if not before).
While it is true that Clinton got some bad luck when Florida and Michigan moved their primaries up too far and were disqualified, the reason she lost was that she didn’t believe in the 50-state strategy. When her campaign got crushed in places like Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, they explained it away as the loss of ‘insignificant states’. But it wasn’t just spin. The Clintons never thought of those states as significant because they tend to vote Republican. What they forgot is that Kansas and Wyoming have Democratic governors and North Dakota and Nebraska have 3 Democratic senators to only one (retiring) Republican. Much like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it, and the Clintons were simply not ‘in’ too many races during this nominating process.
Clinton had other problems, too. Her message was all wrong. The Bush years haven’t been a failure for just the Republicans. The entire Establishment has failed us, including the majority of Democratic senators that voted for the war. Clinton was part of the coalition of the willing, and from Spain to Italy to Poland to the United Kingdom to Australia, all the leaders of the coalition of the willing have been defeated electorally…one by one by one. Clinton doggedly tied herself to the coalition by refusing to apologize for her vote, while Edwards and Dodd and Biden all strode away and were granted a measure of redemption. But, ultimately, the people wanted a candidate that was unsullied by the war, who had been against it from the beginning.
As a result, Clinton really is ‘concussed’. As is the the whole Establishment, from the media on up. An Obama presidency will be the cleanest break between two administrations since Roosevelt took over for Hoover. And given our economy and our difficulties abroad, that somehow seems appropriate.