Eminentoes

Smells Stale, Mate

Obama is looking good to everyone except Lady Hillary.

By 2.7.08

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There was a part of the Super Bowl the other night that I heard on the radio. I had to jump in the car and do an errand, so my link to the field of the play was limited to audio for a while. The Westwood One coverage featured Marv Albert as the play-by-play announcer and Boomer Esiason as the color commentator. At a point late in the third quarter when New England still had the lead, Boomer impulsively blurted: "Marv, do you smell what I am smelling?"

"What's that?"

"I smell an upset. When the underdog stops the favorite from doing what had always been working, it suddenly hits them. These guys can be had."

The Super Tuesday analysts and spinmeisters can offer you orthodox analysis, conventional wisdom, chapter and verse, arguments and counterarguments, history and precedents, polls and focus groups, but I can tell you what I smell. I smell an upset in the Democrat primary. Hillary Clinton has thrown her best stuff at Obama, good and bad, gentle and harsh, and she has not been able to put him away. Unimaginably, she won New York and California in the same night, without gaining significant advantage. What is left for her to beat him with, Texas? Not hers any more than his by any means.

She has to battle him toe to toe in small and medium states, territory he showed incredible muscle in on Tuesday. Look how he charmed Idaho with one huge rally on Sunday night, with one winner line: "They told me there were no Democrats in Idaho... but I didn't believe them." That is magical in a way Hillary could never touch. Then he wins Idaho by three to one! Ouch!

The claim that he may not be viable, that he can only win in narrow racial enclaves, in limited regional venues, has been thoroughly refuted by the facts. The man won Connecticut and Missouri and Utah and Alabama in one night. If that is not clear proof of nationwide appeal, I don't know what is, short of Madonna, Beyonce and Faith Hill recording a theme song for his campaign.

The fundraising reports indicate that the smart money is on Obama. The fact that he raised twice as much in January, even before Super Tuesday, is quite striking. That means that on days when he was still officially ten or more points behind in the polls, the rich guys who have an instinct for picking winners were twice as likely to put his name on a check. You can go wrong following a lot of different indicators in politics, but it is rare indeed to see the big donors pick the wrong horse.

Remember another point. Neither is resigning their Senate seat. So a dollar given to either campaign, besides for hoping to please a future President, is also a risk-free gift to a sitting Senator. In that respect, a moneybags contributor would prefer to please a New York lawmaker than one from Illinois. In fact, Hillary has a great track record of bringing home the pork. Yet, despite all this, two influence-heat-seeking dollars find Obama's treasury for every one reaching Clinton's. Staggering, really, when we consider that the Clintons are the greatest fundraisers in the history of the Democratic Party.

But here is the most important element of all, the one that registers in the real world. The fact is that the Clintons are despised by many in their own party. Only a few have gone public so far, the others still cowed by her aura of invincibility. Once this has been pierced, once it has become clear that she is just a fifty-fifty competitor hoping to eke out a hardscrabble win, then all kinds of folks can come out of the closet.

When you and your husband have spent decades kicking people around, bullying and sullying, hectoring and lecturing, ravaging and savaging, there are a whole lot of walking wounded out there who will gleefully pile on. If they can smell the upset, and they know they are replacing her with a solid candidate, there is nothing to hold them back from stomping on her grave.

She may be even in delegates or slightly ahead, she may be even in votes cast or slightly ahead, but the momentum is going the other way. Then again, no one ever counts a Clinton out, because their winning streak is as long as the Patriots'. But it sure does smell like Obama should win by at least a nose.

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator. He also writes for Human Events.

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Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.