Sad: Hillary loans her campaign $6.4 million

Not the first seven-digit check she’s cut for The Cause, as you’ll recall. I figured this must have been leaked by one of those despondent aides of hers who know that all’s lost and who may now be trying to embarrass her into quitting. Nope: Howard Wolfson himself admitted it in this morning’s conference call, citing it as evidence of just how darned much she cares.

Clinton made a $5 million loan on April 11, a $1 million loan May 1, and $425,000 May 5.

“She did this in order to remain competitive with Senator Obama on television,” he said. “The loans are a sign of Senator Clinton’s commitment to the race, commitment to continuing the process, and a commitment to being competitive with Senator Obama.”

It’s not like she can’t afford it. Or rather, it’s not like Bill can’t afford it: Read the update to the Observer’s account of the call.

Ed said this morning he expects her to stagger on through the end of the primaries on June 3. KP told me the same thing last night. That’s the safe bet given her Terminator-esque perseverance but I’m going to inch out on the limb and predict that she quits next week. Yeah, her advisors are talking tough, but that’s obligatory until she decides how she wants to handle this. And yeah, she’s looking at landslide wins in West Virginia and Kentucky coming up, but to me that only mitigates in favor of getting out now. How pathetically delusional will it look for her to be giving never-say-die victory speeches as the superdelegates peel away and the media downshifts into McCain vs. Obama mode? She’s done a reasonably good job of not making herself ridiculous while trying to play catch-up. There’s no way to avoid that now.

She’s not going to get out before the big Mother’s Day fundraiser this weekend, and she’s wasted so much dramatic rhetoric on the alleged disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan that she can’t quit before that’s resolved without looking like a total fraud. My guess? She makes a deal with Obama to drop out in return for him agreeing to recognize the results of those two primaries. That’ll make the final margin between them nice and tight, letting her save face and giving her a chance to play the magnanimous populist who made sure every vote was counted. And since it’s so close to Mother’s Day, to wring maximum sympathy for her decision, she’ll claim it was Chelsea who finally persuaded her that it was time to go. You heard it here first! Unless it doesn’t pan out, in which case forget it.

Exit question: What now for our gal? Back to semi-anonymity in the senate? A power play to unseat Reid as majority leader? Or is she going to try to muscle her way onto the ticket to keep her profile nice and high for 2012 or 2016? Given the fears of a crack-up, Barry O can’t say no. Can he?