The Monkey Trap, and Hillary Clinton’s Blind Rush to Defeat

Hillary Clinton has essentially two options: hang on to her determination to win the Democratic presidential nomination by any and all means necessary, which will almost certainly result in the election of John McCain, or let go of her personal ambition and join a united effort to elect a Democratic President in November. Winning both the nomination and the general election is apparently out of the question.

March 19, 2008 (crisispapers.org) – Some African tribes have devised an ingenious method of capturing monkeys. They cut a small hole in a coconut, large enough for a monkey’s hand but too small for a monkey’s fist. They then put a few peanuts inside the coconut. When the monkey reaches inside and grabs the peanuts, it is unable to extract its hand.

The monkey is then faced with two choices: let go of the bait and go free or hold on to the bait and be captured. Escaping with the bait is not an option. African monkeys, determined and single-minded critters that they are, usually hold-on until captured.

Hillary Clinton, it seems, is consumed with a monkey-like determination to become the 44th President of the United States, and with that consuming objective in mind, she fails to perceive the context and the likely consequences of her behavior. She has essentially two options: hang on to her determination to win the nomination by any and all means necessary, which, as I will explain below, will almost certainly result in the election of John McCain, or let go of her personal ambition and join a united effort to elect a Democratic President in November. Winning both the nomination and the general election is apparently out of the question.

Most objective observers of the campaign agree that Barack Obama has a near-mathematical lock on the nomination, provided the contest continues according to the party's rules. In compliance with a signed agreement by both candidates, the unauthorized and uncontested Michigan and Florida primaries are out of play. Any likely compromise resolution of the Michigan and Florida controversies will be of negligible advantage to either side. Obama’s 150 pledged delegate lead can only be overcome by unobtainable two to one Clinton majorities in all the remaining primaries followed by the support of a majority of the super delegates.

Clinton can play fair, or she can play dirty. If she plays fair by following the rules and refraining from smear tactics, she will surely lose the nomination. Given Barack Obama’s unassailable lead among the pledged delegates, it is clear that the super-delegates will not overturn the people’s will as expressed in the primaries and the caucuses. Nancy Pelosi, who leads more than two-hundred super-delegates, has recently announced as much.

So if Clinton is to be nominated, she must overturn rules that she has agreed to, persuade most of the super-delegates to ignore the will of the voters and caucus participants, and to accomplish all this she must diminish Obama’s stature through negative campaigning. Because such tactics also devastate the public opinion of her (not very high to begin with), those same tactics employed to gain the nomination will almost certainly deprive her of the presidency in the general election.

In sum, this is Hillary's dilemma: Hold on to the bait, and both Clinton and the Democrats lose. Let go of the bait, and Obama wins. Hillary Clinton’s victory in November is not an option.

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