Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Should Clinton drop out now? - Some pros & cons from Marc Ambinder

Since Tuesday's primaries, as we know, the buzzards have been circling around Hillary Clinton's campaign. A consensus is settling in that there is no longer any reasonable hope for Clinton to win the nomination. And once this consensus does harden, it will become self-fulfilling anyway.

On the assumption that this assessment is correct--which it probably is--does that mean that Clinton should drop out of the race right now, before the remaining primaries have been held? A number of people (not exclusively Obama supporters) would say that if you grant the premise, then the correct answer is obviously yes. But that conclusion is actually not quite so self-evident as it might seem.

No, really, it's not. Earlier today Marc Ambinder, in his political blog at The Atlantic, dashed off two nice posts spelling out 7 reasons why Clinton should drop out and 7 reasons why she shouldn't, both starting from the premise that her chance of winning the nomination is almost certainly over. Some of you might find them, at the very least, intriguing and thought-provoking to consider ... while we wait to find out what actually happens.

--Jeff Weintraub

P.S. For some updates, speculation. and insider scuttlebutt about what the Clinton campaign is actually planning to do, see Clinton's Next Moves.
Marc Ambinder's Blog
May 7, 2008

7 Reasons Why Clinton Should Stay In The Race**

**One is perfectly capable of acknowledging that the identity of the nominee is no longer in dispute and still find that, aside from morbid speculation and existential unknowability, there are reasons for her to postpone any plans for a concession. Some of these reasons may be unpalatable for Democrats and for Obama, but they are not entirely irrational.

1. Florida and Michigan. Clinton, not Obama, is identified with the cause of seating those delegations. Since FL and MI won't decide the nomination now, Clinton has every reason to push for a negotiated settlement. It way well be that Clinton refuses to officially drop out until she is satisfied that the voices of Florida and Michigan are heard.

2. Her voters. Almost half of those voting in the Democratic primaries chose Clinton. Certain parts of her support base -- older women, for example -- are as fervently in her corner as Obama as college kids are in Obama's corner. For these women, Clinton has succeeded in convincing them that her candidacy is just as historic as Obama's. Forget about the nomination: Clinton has a much deeper political base than when she started to campaign for the presidency. She needs to tend to this base whether she continues to represent New York, becomes Senate Majority Leader, becomes the vice presidential nominee, or runs in 2012.

3. Embarrassment. If she drops out tomorrow and winds up winning in West Virginia and Kentucky, Obama will be mightily embarrassed. Having her in the race gives him an excuse for losing those two states. (I ran this by an Obama adviser who said, "We'll take our chances.")

4. The Ask. Does Clinton want to be Obama's vice president? Who knows? But does Clinton want to be asked whether she wants to be his vice president and this be in a position to decline it? Surely. The more Obama is reminded that Clinton cannot not be dispensed with, the more pressure he will feel to at least solicit her views on the subject of the vice presidency.

5. The Party. David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, said again this morning that he is confident that the entire party will unify around Obama. If that's the case, then giving Democrats in the remaining states the chance to exercise their vote -- and by exercise, I mean it in the conventional sense -- to practice voting -- will be a boon for Democrats in the fall. 1.5 million Democrats voting in Indiana is spectacular; the primaries are serving as a dry-run of sorts for the entire party. It wouldn't hurt to extend those dress rehearsals to West Virginia and Kentucky either, not to mention Oregon and Montana.

6. Superdelegates. If they're so eager to end the race, they can end the race. They haven't.

7. Unity. If Clinton campaigns appropriately, she can help Obama begin to help heal the party.

7 Reasons Why Clinton Should Quit, Now

1. It's over. Forget the sideshows and the hypotheticals. Once the party has its nominee, and only then, can the process of healing begin. The longer Clinton stays in the race, the more she postpones the point at which the party comes together.

2. The reality principle. "Anything is possible," is what campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said today. Well, no. Something things are impossible; many others are highly improbable.

3. Her legacy. In many quarters, it's been damaged by the presidential race. The sooner she exits, the more gracefully she exists, the better the chance is for her to shake off this presidential race and resume her Senate career.

4. Bill's legacy. In many quarters, it's been irrevocably (and perhaps unfairly) damaged by this presidential race.

5. Obama. Even if there are plausible, selfish reasons for her to stay in, her duty to her party should trump them. She should devote herself fully to the service of Obama.

6. Her staff. They are tired and many are demoralized, even as they love and lionize their boss. Give them a rest.

7. Florida and Michigan. The sooner she drops out, the sooner those states will find their delegations seated.