So Barack Obama did not manage to knock out Hillary Clinnton in last week’s Democratic primary in Pennsylvania. On the contrary, Clinton ran a very negative campaign which has done some real damage to the Obama cause and could weaken his position in relation to the contest against John McCain when Obama wins the Democratic nomination (as he will).
This week’s edition of “Time” magazine has a cover with pictures of half the faces of Obama and Clinton with the announcement: “There can only be one”. In an interesting article, Joe Klein notes:
“In his 1991 book, The Reasoning Voter, political scientist Samuel Popkin argued that most people make their choice on the basis of “low-information signaling” — that is, stupid things like whether you know how to roll a bowling ball or wear an American-flag pin.”
“The audacity of the Obama campaign was the belief that in a time of trouble — as opposed to the peace and prosperity of the late 20th century — the low-information politics of the past could be tossed aside in favor of a high-minded, if deliberately vague, appeal to the nation’s need to finally address some huge problems. But that assumption hit a wall in Pennsylvania.”
And Klein concludes his piece:
“But the presidency will not be won if he [Obama] doesn’t learn that the only way to reach the high-minded conversation he wants, and the country badly needs, is to figure out how to maneuver his way through the gutter.”
In his column in today’s “Guardian” newspaper, Gary Younge – a black man writing about the election prospects of Obama, another black man – puts the situation more bluntly:
“Unable to beat Obama on delegates and still unlikely to beat him in the popular vote, Hillary Clinton has just one strategy left – to persuade superdelegates that Obama is unelectable. She has tried branding him as inexperienced and slick-tongued, and neither of those have worked. At this stage she has just one argument left: his race. For several months now, her aides have been whispering to whoever would listen that America would never elect a black candidate. In desperation, some are now raising their voices.”
He is right – and it is despicable.