Bill Clinton says Obama is the "establishment" candidate as Hillary falls into a statistical tie with Obama

Bill Clinton was president for 8 years and governor of Arkansas for, what, 12? Hillary Clinton has been a corporate lawyer, first lady of a state and the country, and a senator. You can’t get much more establishment than those two. But because “change” is the meaningless mantra of the year, and because the Clintons are dishonest down to their soulless cores, they’re trying to paint Barack Obama as the “establishment” candidate in Nevada.

After trailing Hillary Clinton by a 2-1 margin in Nevada as recently as November, a poll published this week showed Obama had moved into a virtual tie with her and former Sen. John Edwards.

Buoyed by an endorsement from the largest union in the state, Obama had 32%, Clinton 30% and Edwards 27%, according to the poll conducted for the Reno Gazette-Journal with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Bill Clinton said he talked with many of the 60,000-member Culinary Union’s rank-and-file who intend to ignore the endorsement and vote for his wife.

“In this case the establishment organization is with him and the insurgents are with her,” Clinton said in his speech. He then asked for a show of hands from about 50 precinct captains in the audience and challenged them to stand up to the union’s leadership.

“They think they’re better than you are at identifying and physically getting people to their caucus sites. And I bet they’re wrong,” he said to cheers.

Among the Democratic candidates remaining, Sen. Clinton is the only one “with a record of consistently passing important bills with the support of Republicans,” Bill Clinton said.

You can get dizzy trying to follow most of Bill Clinton’s arguments, but here it boils down to: Even though Hillary has been around forever, so long we’ve all forgotten what the world was like without the Clintons casting their shadow over everything, one union’s endorsement in Nevada makes Obama the “establishment” candidate.

It’s stupid enough to win over thousands of Democrat votes to Hillary.

And in the next state, when Hillary wins some big endorsement there, the Clintons will argue that that makes her the best qualified or most vetted candidate over the rookie Obama.

The problem for the Clinton is they have a deeper problem than shape-shifting over who is and isn’t the “establishment” candidate. Hillary’s race games may have cost her the black vote.

The Michigan primary vote was essentially meaningless: the national party stripped the state of its delegates because it held its contest too early in the election season, and Clinton was the only major Democratic contender whose name appeared on the ballot.

Even so, roughly 70 percent of Michigan’s African-American voters — a group that makes up a quarter of Michigan’s Democratic electorate — did not cast their votes for Clinton, choosing the “uncommitted” option instead. Yet these voters weren’t uncommitted at all: in fact, according to CNN exit polls, they overwhelmingly favored Barack Obama, whose name did not appear on the ballot.

Had Obama’s name been on the Michigan ballot, CNN exit polls show that he would have won an overwhelming 73 percent of the African-American vote, in contrast to 22 percent who say they would have voted for Clinton under those circumstances.

Next up, South Carolina, where half of the Democrat vote is black. And a new Reuters/Zogby poll has Clinton and Obama tied nationally.

Clinton, a former first lady who would be the first woman U.S. president, held a 21-point edge over Obama in October. He cut that to 8 points by last month, and the new survey gave her a 39 percent to 38 percent edge.

And then there’s the Clintons’ peculiar history, which even Mother Jones recognizes is a legitimate problem.