Peggy Noonan asks this question in today’s WSJ column.
If it comes to it, down the road, can she give a nice
speech, thank her supporters, wish Barack Obama well, and vow to
campaign for him?
The press is starting to either ask these kinds of questions, for
the first time. Only days ago all the talk and analysis was over
whether it would be a McCain-Clinton race for the White House,
speculation only ranging over whether a Romney or Huckabee opposition
could seriously contend in a battle against Sen. Clinton. I kept
wondering why they were presuming that she would be the party’s
nominee, given Sen. Barack Obama’s meteoric rise in popularity.
What a difference a few days make, Romney’s departure combined with Clinton’s struggles.
Mrs. Clinton is losing this thing. It’s not one big
primary, it’s a rolling loss, a daily one, an inch-by-inch deflation.
The trends and indices are not in her favor. She is having trouble
raising big money, she’s funding her campaign with her own wealth, her
moral standing within her own party and among her own followers has
been dragged down, and the legacy of Clintonism tarnished by what Bill
Clinton did in South Carolina. Unfavorable primaries lie ahead. She
doesn’t have the excitement, the great whoosh of feeling that
accompanies a winning campaign. The guy from Chicago who was unknown a
year ago continues to gain purchase, to move forward. For a soft little
innocent, he’s played a tough and knowing inside/outside game.
This was the week that it all turned a corner, that his momentum
started, just started to appear insurmountable, even by a Hillary
Clinton. That thought used to be unthinkable to Democrats and even the
most veteran political insiders. But this presidential race has all
sorts of firsts, many historical landmarks, and the only constant in
this whole race has been surprise.
It’s surprising to see this turn of events by Super Tuesday, and the
day after when word came out that Clinton’s campaign was broke, that
her “war chest is empty and she has to dip into her own piggy bank”, as
one tv news anchor put it. That doesn’t appear to be a momentary
On the wires Wednesday her staff was all but conceding
she is not going to win the next primaries. Her superdelegates are
coming under pressure that is about to become unrelenting. It was easy
for party hacks to cleave to Mrs Clinton when she was inevitable. Now
Mr. Obama’s people are reportedly calling them saying, Your state voted
for me and so did your congressional district. Are you going to
jeopardize your career and buck the wishes of the people back home?
And it’s the people who are catapulting Obama, the people who
believe in the dream he uniquely presents, not knowing or even caring
what his policies and principles are on the specific issues. Clinton is
broke, and the money keeps rolling in for Obama.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised
almost $6 million within one day after the Feb. 5 voting contests, all
of which came from online donations.
Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe said in a letter to
supporters that $3 million was raised the evening after Tuesday’s
primaries and caucuses. A live ticker attached to his e-mail, showing
donations, recorded $5.8 million as of 11:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.
By 9:30 a.m. today, the total was $7.1 million, according to the Obama
campaign Web site…
Plouffe told reporters on Tuesday that Obama’s fundraising
counterbalances Clinton’s advantages of name recognition and political
infrastructure, allowing the campaign to remain competitive and to
advertise in states through April.
In the past few days, it appears this race is starting to be a bit
less competetive. Clnton has name recognition alright, but it’s not the
advantage she banked on, and the bank account is just one more proof of
But she does not know how to lose.
Can she lose with grace?
We may find out sooner than anyone would have thought.