Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Choice

My first shot at editing a political video. Enjoy:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Race Is Almost Over

It's been a titanic struggle been two political powerhouses: An eloquent inspiration for a new tomorrow and an indefatigable fighter, hell bent on correcting the wrongs of the past seven years. They both have immense political strengths and weaknesses. Obama is inspirational and unflappable, but he has no experience and his message can lack substantive focus. Hillary is tough as nails and a policy expert, but she's also carelessly reactionary, and equivocates on issues (Iraq, Iran, Illegal Immigration, and Nafta) that would naturally be informed by one's core belief system (a problem for Kerry in 2004).

A recent comparison was made on network news to the Thrilla In Manila between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, because of the back and forth nature of this battle. As a boxing fan, I wholeheartedly agree that it's a valid comparison with many parallels.

Hillary is a lot like Joe Frazier... a rough and rugged brawler who thrives in the thick of things, fighting ugly and battling fiercely toe to toe. Obama is a lot like Ali... skillful, imaginative, elusive, and completely unpredictable. On October 1st, 1975 in the Philippines, after 14 grueling rounds, it was Ali's artful repertoire that won out against Joe Frazier's ruggedly relentlessness assaults.

Similarly, in spite of the national news narrative post Texas and Ohio, after an historic campaign, Obama has all but wrapped up the Democratic nomination.

A brief run down of the states left to vote makes for an interesting read:

Mississippi 03/11 (33 Delegates), Pennsylvania 04/22 (158 Delegates), Guam 05/03 (4 Delegates), North Carolina 05/06 (115 Delegates), Indiana 05/06 (72 Delegates), West Virginia 05/13 (28 Delegates), Oregon 05/20 (52 Delegates), Kentucky 05/20 (51 Delegates), Puerto Rico 06/01 (55 Delegates), Montana 06/03 (15 Delegates), South Dakota 06/03 (15 Delegates).

The primaries ahead look fairly predictable and only in Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico would you favor Hillary Clinton to win. She stands a fighting chance in Indiana and Kentucky but it would be a very big surprise if victories there were acquired by wide margins. Based on any fair assessment of the upcoming votes it's hard to see how Clinton improves her pledged delegate standing against Obama (currently Obama 1378 to Hillary 1223). Optimistically she'll NET 10-20 Delegates out of Pennsylvania, but Obama will NET 5-15 in North Carolina. Obama will win West Virginia, Oregon, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, and probably Kentucky and Indiana.

According to a story in the Times of London the Clinton campaign has asserted 3 ways it can win this race. They do not stand up to scrutiny:

1. Re-runs in Michigan and Florida. These couldn't possibly close the pledged delegate gap that will remain, in all likelihood, between 100-150+ Obama.

2. Win the popular vote. The current popular vote total shows Obama with a 600,000 vote margin. In light of Obama being favored to win in 9 of the 11 primaries ahead it's hard to see how this changes significantly. Florida could NET her approximately 300,000 votes (that's what she won NET in January without Obama campaigning there). However, chances are that a new primary in Florida would be considerably closer. Current polls in Michigan put Clinton and Obama neck and neck on 41 points each, so it's hard to see any significant gains in the Midwestern state.

3. Undermine Obama's electability to win the Super-delegate vote. The reality is that the press narrative is fickle. As Obama wins, the national story is one dimensionally unfair to Hillary. Likewise, after Texas and Ohio, everything is seen through the prism of Hillary's regained momentum. But, as the victories continue rack up and Obama continues to win a broader cross section of the electorate, in addition to winning more states, winning more pledged delegates, and winning more votes... it's incredulous to argue that his electability is any worse than hers.

In the 14th round of the Thrilla in Manilla, Frazier was on his last legs. A large swelling had grown on the side of his head and he could barely see out of one eye. Ali was exhausted, but aware that Frazier would keep coming. He summoned enough strength to guarantee victory, but no matter the control he exerted, Frazier wouldn't go down. As the round ended, and Frazier stumbled back to his corner it was up to his trainer Eddie Futch to step in and end the fight. Frazier pleaded, "I want him boss," desperate to fight in the final round. Futch replied, "It's all over. No one will forget what you did here today."

Hillary Clinton will not be Barack Obama's Vice Presidential pick, but when this race is through, she will probably be one of the most important political leaders in the nation, destined to be Democratic Senate leader if she so chooses. No one will ever forget this historic campaign, nor her victories in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Texas when her back was up against the wall. But, if she goes on, and on, and on... in pursuit of her objectives, when the fight is lost, and she only hangs on by the the slimmest of hopes... then she will only be hurting the chances of the Democratic Party this November. If she truly cares about a Democratic approach to healthcare, the economy, the war in Iraq (ideas she largely shares with her opponent) then she should understand that this Presidential race is not about her, Barack, or even John McCain. It's about the country, it's people, and the world at large.

Does Hillary have an Eddie Futch that can pierce her impressive determination with this simple truth:

"It is over, Hillary, but no one will ever forget what you accomplished in this race."

We will soon know.