Thursday, April 24, 2008

Colbert on Clinton's Chances

On Wednesday night's Colbert Report on Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert gave his analysis of the Democratic Party nomination race in the wake of Hillary Clinton's substantial victory in Pennsylvania. Through the snark, it was clear that Colbert believes it is time for Hillary Clinton to face up to the painful reality that Barack Obama will win the Democratic nomination — and that, as Jon Stewart distilled Hillary Clinton's strategy half an hour earlier, "What it comes down to is that you [Sen. Clinton] would win the nomination if Democrats were Republicans. That sounds like one tremendous "if-you" to the process."

Here is the video clip from Comedy Central:

... and here is the transcript:
Colbert: Now, the other big winner [of the Pennsylvania primary], of course, was Hillary Clinton, who beat Obama by 10 points. (Suck it, "Hope"!) Hillary wasted no time in making the implications of this victory clear:

Hillary Clinton: The tide is turning! (2008-04-22, PA victory speech)

Colbert: Yes! No one could predict Hillary's win in Pennsylvania, just like no one can predict the tide! This — this changes everything.

[news clips: Hillary has "a new lease on life," allowing her to continue campaigning]

Colbert: It looks like Hillary Clinton could wrap this nomination up.

[news clips: Hillary can't possibly win: "It's almost impossible for her to get [the nomination]."]

Colbert: Exactly! Hillary is doing well enough to stay in the fight, but there's still no clear path to victory — which brings us to tonight's WØRD:

Iraq the Vote
  • Iraq the Vote
Folks, Hillary Clinton went into this campaign using many of the same strategies we used when we went to war
  • Like Getting New York Times Endorsement
For instance, she launched her run with overwhelming force, hoping to shock and awe her opponents with a massive victory on Super Tuesday, believing she would win a short, tidy battle and be greeted by the Democratic Party as a Liberator.
  • Prefers The Term "Progressivator"
But things didn't quite go as planned: there was unexpected resistance, and now the Democrats are mired in a self-destructive civil war. No one knows who will win.
  • Bet On The Side Clinging To Guns
Now, some have called for Hillary to withdraw, and maybe that would've been a sound strategy when she lost 12 primaries in a row —
  • Only 11 Of Them Bill's Fault
but lately, her surge is working.
  • Unlike Millions Of Americans
Unfortunately, the math is just against her — there just aren't enough states left for her to catch up in the delegate count or the popular vote. Again, our strategy in this war provides a good parallel:
  • Voters Feel Tortured
You see, when the Army started running out of soldiers, they simply lowered the standards for recruitment.
[Reuters® news story: "Army, Marines allow more convicts to enlist," 2008-04-21 6:36pm EDT; pull quote: "...enlist people otherwise precluded by recruitment standards"]
So, if Hillary is running out of states, she should simply ask to lower the standards for statehood.
  • Lower Than Mississippi?
After we finish the 50 we've already got, she should extend the campaign to other states, because surely there's some other big state that could win her the nomination.
  • State of Denial
Now, I think one thing is clear: Hillary can't pull out. This is about honor.
  • Also, Flag Pins
And there's where I think she and McCain would agree: once you're in a fight that's cost this much, you have to stay in, even if it takes a hundred years. Remember: in both Iraq and the election, the goal is democracy, and what's more democratic than a campaign that never ends?
  • The Will Of The Majority?

Colbert: And that's THE WØRD; we'll be right back.

Just a couple of quick footnotes:
  • Not that it matters in much of anything except the psychology of the race, but Senator Clinton did not win Pennsylvania by "double digits." She won by a margin of 9.31%, which rounds down to 9%, not up to 10%.

  • The New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton for the New York primary, but has since turned against her.

  • Hillary Clinton has a valid point in asking why Barack Obama can't "close the deal" and convincingly end the race. However, it is equally valid to ask why Hillary Clinton has seen an almost unanswered string of superdelegates — including several who had previously endorsed her, or whose endorsement she expected — moving towards Obama.

  • If Clinton believes that Obama cannot win in November, she clearly has not made that case. She has not delivered a knockout blow.

  • If Clinton does not believe that Obama is doomed in the fall, she needs to bow to the clearly expressed will of the voters. As one of the talking heads said yesterday, in any other race, with this clear a mathematical near-certainty, the networks would long ago have "called" the race in Obama's favor.

  • Even if Obama's candidacy is doomed, Clinton's would be even moreso. She can only get the nomination by pissing off the party activists, the voters, and a lot of the party bigshots — in other words, exactly the people she needs if she is to have any chance of winning in November.

  • There is one respect in which Hillary Clinton is already trying to "lower the standards for statehood": part of her grand strategy for taking the lead in the popular vote is to win big in the State of Puerto Rico, where she is heavily favored, expecting to pick up a net gain of possibly hundreds of thousands of votes.

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Embedded video and transcript below the fold...