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I'm Going to Make a Prediction Here: Hillary's Toast

by Dave Lindorff

Hillary is the quintessential Establishment candidate and too calculatingly conservative for primary voters.
Thu, 02/07/2008—For two years now, I have been telling people who insisted that Hillary Clinton would be the next Democratic candidate for president that they were wrong. I even put it in writing a few times.

Now I'm going to really put it out there: Hillary Clinton is Toast. She is not going to be the Democratic nominee.

The reason I always figured she wouldn't make it across the primary finish line was that she was too calculatingly conservative for primary voters.

For years, it has been the case that Democratic primary voters have been more liberal than the broader spectrum of registered Democratic voters. That is because progressive voters have generally been better educated and also more motivated to try to have an impact on the decisions of "their" party than other voters who just mechanically, or out of habit, checked the Democratic box when they registered to vote. Then you have to add to the mix the reality that independents, who vote in the primaries of many of the 50 states, are often, contrary to conventional wisdom, way more "liberal," or better, anti-Establishment, on many issues than are Democrats.

Clinton, meanwhile, is the quintessential Establishment candidate. She has honed her resume, she has cautiously calculated the impact of every critical vote in the Senate. Even as Mr. Bill's unofficial adviser, she played the role of making sure that White House decisions hewed to the center-right, as for example when she pressed him to defund welfare, or to gut habeas rights for death penalty prisoners. Her craven support in the Senate more recently for a flag-burning law, and her vote in support of the mortally dangerous Kyle-Lieberman bill last year (which would, if passed in its original form, have declared Iran's main armed force, the Revolutionary Guard, to be a "global terrorist organization," thus giving President Bush all the authorization he thinks he needs to attack that country), epitomize her politics.

Moreover, while it does sometimes appear that the Democratic Party has a death wish, I've never subscribed to that theory. I think that party leaders do want to win the White House and to keep control of Congress, not because they want to reform the system, but because they want all the perks, patronage and payola that go to the winner. And I think they all are acutely aware that Hillary cannot win in November against a candidate like John McCain. Indeed, she probably could not win against any of the main Republican hopefuls for president.

My guess is that they'll watch what happens over the next month, and if Barack Obama doesn't keep advancing in the polls and the delegate count, they'll do something to sink her candidacy, which we'll see happen when the so-called Super Delegates--the party "ins" and big-wigs--jump to Obama. The talk at the Democratic National Committee about holding caucuses in Michigan and Florida (the two states that held early primaries against party rules and had their delegations ruled unseatable at the Convention), instead of letting them ultimately be seated, is a direct indication that the Party doesn't want the contest going to Clinton. Clinton won both those primaries, which were held before the Obama surge really got going. If the delegations as voted in the primaries were allowed to be seated at the convention, Clinton would be way out front right now.

I predict they won't be. Those delegates will be reallocated at caucuses at which Obama's people will be dominant.

So for my money, it looks like Obama v. McCain in November.

And a good thing that is, because Clinton v. McCain would have resulted in President McCain.

Obama's "change" rhetoric may be ludicrously empty, but it sounds more real coming from his mouth than from his imitators, including Clinton, and that's enough to bring primary voters, who sure enough do want change, over to his column.

You read it here.

Lindorff speakingAbout the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at

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This story was published on February 8, 2008.