By Suzanne Baroud
Nothing seems to work right for Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton in her attempts to once more dwell in the White House. Senator Barack Obama, despite inflated controversies continued his glide to the Democratic nomination with a landslide victory and a marginal defeat in the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, respectively.
According to the Associated Press count, as of May 7, a day after Tuesday’s primaries, Obama commands an overall lead of 1,846.5 delegates, while Clinton trails behind at 1,696 delegates. To win the Democratic Party nomination for presidency, Obama or Clinton is required to obtain 2,025 delegates. To catch up with Obama, beleaguered Clinton must acquire at least 63 percent of the remaining votes, nearly impossible considering her poor performance as of late. Obama is just 178.5 delegates shy from the threshold of nomination.
Analysts contest that neither candidate is likely to obtain the required votes, but Obama looks like a more attractive option, as Clinton’s negative campaigning is reaching the point of hampering the credibility and overall appeal of the Democratic Party, as it gears for a heated battle against Republican Senator John McCain next November. US filmmaker and outspoken political critic Michael Moore has equated a possible McCain presidency, in a recent interview with CNN’s Larry King, as a third term for George W. Bush. Moore’s assessment cannot be any more accurate.
Hilary Clinton’s campaign lost momentum soon after its launch. Early numbers showing a wide lead over other Democratic opponents soon faltered, as her failure to present herself as the clear alternative to the archetypal Washington politician became palpable. Although Obama’s ‘moral flexibility’ too became obvious, he held an advantage over his stubborn opponent: he could speak as an outsider to the ‘establishment’, a fact that is consistent with his oratory charges about the need for change, unity and hope. Clinton, despite her claim to the contrary, was the typical Washington politician, self-serving, opportunistic and an aficionado of partisan politics.
The more Obama’s appeal grew, the more obstacles that were planted in his way to fall, thus prompting responses that seemed inconsistent with his initial campaign promises. When confronted with the claim that he lacked leadership qualities, last August he vowed to bomb Pakistan, a major US ally, in the hunt for al-Qaeda; when his ‘commitment’ to Israel was questioned, he blamed Palestinians squarely for their misfortunes, including the lethal Israeli siege on Gaza; to counter the rumours of his allegedly secretive Muslim life, he disowned one of the world’s greatest religions as if some sort of a contagious disease; and finally, when Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor of many years, made his controversial views public, thus igniting a media frenzy that was exploited shamelessly by Senator Clinton, Obama spoke of Wright as a different man from the one that he had known.
It was Reverend Wright’s controversy in particular that was expected to slow down, if not entirely jeopardize Obama’s quest for the White House. Clinton’s campaign was seen on the rebound, or the media prophesized. Her campaign attempted to capitalize on Obama’s misfortunes, turning the African American preacher’s views into a representation of Obama’s.
More, in recent television campaign ads, the Clinton camp infused sinister images of Osama bin Laden, hoping to exploit the culture of fear that was created by the Bush administration and his neoconservative backers following the terrorist attacks of September 11.
As for Israel, Clinton wanted to settle the score once and for all, positioning herself as the most faithful candidate to Israel – especially as John McCain’s recent visit to Israel has raised the bar, once more, regarding who is Israel’s most faithful friend. In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Clinton asserted that the US could "totally obliterate" Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel. "I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel)," Clinton said, adding, "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
But nothing seemed to work thus far: neither the fear mongering, nor the blackmailing, nor infusing al-Qaeda and Hamas into the scene, nor misusing Reverend Jeremiah’s public statements; Obama continues to win the trust of more Democrats.
Writing for the CBC website, Mike Flannery reported, “Obama was on the winning side of an ‘honesty gap.’ Asked who was honest and trustworthy, 66 percent of Indiana voters said Obama was; and 33 percent said he was not. Fifty-four percent said Clinton was trustworthy and 45 percent said she was not. In North Carolina, Obama was considered trustworthy by 71 percent of people, and not so by 27 percent. Forty-nine percent of voters in North Carolina said Clinton was trustworthy, and an equal percent said she was not.”
Clinton’s desperate campaign is getting even more desperate as media reported that the New York Senator lent her campaign another large sum of money, estimated at $6.4 million, amid quite calls from various influential democrats that she should call it quits, thus preserving some grace, integrity, and the hope of unifying the party.
One of those voices is veteran Democratic Party member George McGovern, 85, an historic figure by the party’s standards. McGovern had reportedly dropped his support for Clinton and endorsed Obama on May 7, saying that the young Illinois senator seemed certain to win the nomination for the upcoming presidential elections in November. Three other superdelegates reportedly vowed support for Obama following Tuesday’s primaries.
Six final contests remain for the Democratic nomination before the party’s convention this summer: West Virginia, Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. At stake are 217 delegates. Proportional methods used by the party will prevent Obama from winning the needed number to seal his nomination. Out of the 800 superdelegates, 215 are yet to determine their leanings, leaving both Clinton and Obama scrambling for their approval.
Dan Balz, blogging for the Washington Post, quoted a veteran Democrat, one of many who wishes Clinton to withdraw and preserve the party’s unity: "Withdraw with honor and grace, or lose without either, forever cementing her – their (the Clintons) – image as selfish, indifferent to party or cause."
Considering Clinton’s recent statements, she seemed adamant in continuing with her pursuit for the White House no matter what the price. "I believe I’m the stronger candidate against Senator McCain and I believe that I’d be the best president among the three of us running," Clinton said. "So, we will continue to contest these elections and move forward."
-Suzanne Baroud is an American writer and editor of several books. She is the managing editor of PalestineChronicle.com, and a regular contributor to IslamOnline.net.