Little things

Momentum is bad enough against you, but when little things go wrong too...

1) Hillary Clinton's campaign, because it was based on the assumption that there would not be a serious challenger left after "Super Duper Tuesday" (February 5), did not have a strategy for dealing with what is happening now.
In my view this is exactly what strategists are supposed to do anyway. I would personally be ashamed to charge fees if this report is true:
System Worries Clinton Backers
Delegates Won May Not Reflect Popular Vote

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 18, 2008; A06

Supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are worried that convoluted delegate rules in Texas could water down the impact of strong support for her among Hispanic voters there, creating a new obstacle for her in the must-win presidential primary contest.

Several top Clinton strategists and fundraisers became alarmed after learning of the state's unusual provisions during a closed-door strategy meeting this month, according to one person who attended.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa's heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston -- where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support -- could yield three or four times as many delegates.

The article then descends into a mixture of spin and "I am a poor victim" whining.
One word: Rubbish.

A Democratic Party member for 35 years? Who has spent the last EIGHT YEARS planning to become President? With a budget in the TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (if not over $100,000,000)? A LAWYER BY TRAINING?

I think I might have thought to check the primary and caucus system before February 5th, or whenever it was Plan A went down the pan.

Bad luck that Texas happens to have the wrong sort of rules to suit Senator Clinton now. But it is criminal incompetence to be in a position where this wasn't recognized as a possibility. I assume the people planning the campaign aren't the sort of people Mrs Clinton would appoint to, let's say, negotiate with Iran, or design a health care system for the U.S.A. or anything as tricky as boil an egg.

2) If I were Hillary, I would smell a rat: the media are reporting a week ago that Wisconsin and Hawaii could mean Senator Barack Obama will clock up a "10 state winning streak." Clearly, if Wisconsin could have been won by Clinton, the narrative would have been destroyed and the momentum could swing back. This is why, despite assurances of a Maginot Line approach (hold the line at Texas and Florida oops, that really came out by mistake! I mean Ohio), there actually was some campaigning going on. Hawaii, Senator Obama's birthplace, was a write-off.

So the best media narrative for Hillary would have been either: Hawaii declared instantly and several days of recounts in Wisconsin, at worst breaking up the impression of the procession of victories for the Illinois Senator; or both declared wins quickly and simultaneously, so we could "move on."

Instead, Wisconsin unexpectedly got called as a crushing win at once. Hawaii, with no suspense, but almost a day's delay, duly declared an even bigger crushing win. So the media spend one whole day going on about the terrible result for Clinton in Wisconsin, and then, what could have been discounted in Hawaii become the "10th win in a row" with the percentages going up. Here's Kos on the winning streak.

You couldn't have planned the two results to put Senator Clinton in a less credible light as a candidate. I could well believe it was done on purpose. I know I have a less than favorable view of the Clintons, but I'd almost be surprised if they didn't feel up against more than just a natural chain of events.

3) The plagiarism row has completely tanked. By luck or design, the alleged victim is a friend who seems only to happy to endorse Senator Obama's use of a turn of phrase. My own view is that it was always going to look petty. But against another candidate, it might have rattled the Obama campaign team into a slip-up.

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