Let the post-mortems begin! MS-NBC is first out of the gate to analyze how Hillary Clinton could have lost a nomination that had looked inevitable a year ago. She had the Clinton organization, a recognizable national presence, and ties to the party establishment built over sixteen years for the singular purpose of the Clinton Restoration. Hillary thought she could claim the women’s vote, and based on her husband’s ties to the African-American community, felt she could at least compete for black voters in the primaries.
How could this all fall apart?
First, it’s no surprise that MS-NBC could put this together so quickly. They’ve been in the bag for Obama so long that they probably started this four-minute project in February, updating it for freshness along the way. That being said, they hit just about every theme in her loss, but they miss the biggest factor of all.
Hillary’s campaign strategy certainly seems questionable. It appeared at times that she didn’t have one. After coming in third in Iowa, she rebounded in New Hampshire, but after that seemed a little adrift. She had let Obama into contention with a mind-blowingly bad performance in a November debate, where she contradicted herself on drivers licenses for illegals within two minutes, and never quite recovered as a front-runner — while acting like one. After February 5th, it became clear that the Clintons had not planned to campaign through the rest of the states and had run through almost all of their money. They had assumed that the race would be over and never strategized for a long campaign. Obama did.
Did she have the wrong message? I’m not so sure that Hillary campaign on “same old, same old” as MS-NBC and other analysts conclude. She campaigned on the idea of returning to the Clinton era, which in her defense is exactly what Democrats said they wanted after 2004. Obama’s policy stands didn’t differ much at all from Hillary, and she talked about change almost as much as Obama did.
MS-NBC claims the Tuzla Dash helped do her in, but history doesn’t show that. The Tuzla Dash escapade got blown in March, not in January or February. While many of us thought it should have been a disqualifying event, the truth is that Hillary won almost every primary after her lie got exposed. It didn’t make the difference in North Carolina, Oregon, or Montana, and it didn’t keep her from winning in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama’s strange series of gaffes didn’t keep him from winning the nomination, either.
What really kept Hillary from winning the nomination? I’d say it was a combination of Clinton fatigue, Bill’s almost deliberately bad performance on the stump, and a media that has favored Barack Obama every step of the way. They have minimized his missteps while magnifying those Hillary made. The media, especially MS-NBC, has promoted Obama’s historic march to the nomination while at times sneering at Hillary’s. In the media sense, Hillary became the Republican and very belatedly discovered how it feels to be on the other side of the media’s fawning attention.
Had she run a smarter campaign, could she have beaten Obama? I’m not sure she could have ever overcome those liabilities, but we will never really know. The question becomes whether John McCain can overcome those same liabilities.