It's worth recalling what this primary came to be about, because of a self-conscious decision by the Clintons to adopt the tactics and politics of the people who persecuted and hounded them in the 1990s. It was indeed in the end about smearing and labeling Obama as a far-left, atheist, elite, pansy Godless snob fraud. That was almost all it came to be about. It was the Clintons' core message and core belief. And if anywhere would have proved its salience, it would surely have been beleaguered and depressed central and western Pennsylvania; and it would surely have worked with white ethnic voters over 50. Howie P.S.:
It did work, it seems to me. It will work, to some extent. It's valid in the sense that Rove is not stupid. But it works less and less the younger the vote is; and it is obviously losing some of its divisive salience even among the older generation. It is fading as a tool. Used by Democrats, legitimized by Democrats, embraced by Democrats, the Rove-Atwater gambits have been paid the highest compliment by the Clintons these past few weeks. But a single digit win against a young black man in a polarized race suggests that this compliment was past its sell-by date. It was an act of desperation, and one last grab back to the past. It didn't quite do what it was supposed to do. Nearly, but not quite.
The past is receding; but the future has yet to be born. This is hard labor. Necessary labor. But the direction of this country is clear, it seems to me. And heartening.
Twenty minutes before he posted this, Sullivan painted a darker picture in another post, "The Worst Of All Worlds For The Dems":
Right now, the actual results suggest what I thought would be the worst possible result for the Democrats: a nine point win for Clinton. It doesn't change the race's dynamic or the math; but it will give Clinton just the tiniest sliver of an argument that she should not drop out.
(snip) And that is where the Democrats are now headed.
This is a fascinating result. It appears to me as the future struggling to overcome the past. On the process, I stick to my view that she needed double digits to have reason to stay in. Right now, she doesn't have it. But she won't leave. She will never leave. Ceding to someone younger is unthinkable to her. It's a form of death for her.
But here's what she does have: total shamelessness, and an absolute belief that she is the rightful nominee. Shamelessness: the appropriation of the message and even the words of her opponent; the portrayal of one of the most privileged and advantaged candidates in memory as an insurgent underdog; the eager embrace of the tactics - and message! - of the Rove right if it could help in any way; the picture of a candidate who saw a 20 - 25 point lead dissipate into single figures as a candidate for momentum. What sustains her is this deep, deep sense of entitlement and an absolute refusal to let the next generation take over. She will take this to the last day of the convention if necessary.
If Obama thinks he has a right to actually be nominated by the Clinton Democrats because he has won more votes, more states and more delegates, he is sadly mistaken. They will never let such a person win without a death struggle.
Via Avi Zenilman posting on Ben Smith's Blog
The debate (on one superdelegate listserv) isn't about whether to endorse Obama or abandon him in the wake of tonight's loss; it's when and how superdelegates should reveal their preferences.