... it could be the best thing that ever happened to Barack Obama.
Before I explain why, let’s consider the remarkable change in the political atmosphere since Sen. Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday.
For the past three months, the mainstream media and the punditocracy have spoken about Obama in tones of awe. Chris Matthews compared him to Abraham Lincoln (after the race speech).
But on “Hardball” yesterday, Matthews said that Obama “doesn’t have the knack for walking into a diner with regular people and connecting.”
Matthews also said: “If he can’t fight better than [Hillary], he will lose to her.” Regarding Jeremiah Wright, he said: “This is [Obama’s] Iraq.”
“Hardball” guest Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist, said yesterday that “the bloom is off of” Barack Obama. “I think he has stumbled badly on the patriotism issue.”
Herbert also said there are “questions about whether Obama has that same fighting spirit” as Hillary Clinton.
That’s how fast the game can change.
Now... let’s suppose Obama finishes weak and Clinton finishes strong.
Suppose she gets the nomination by convincing enough superdelegates that she is the Democrats’ best hope against John McCain.
If that happens, she will lose in November. There is no way she can get a majority of Americans to vote for her. Especially with many disenchanted black Democrats and party activists hating on her.
Hillary will lose, and that is the end of Clintonism, period, close the book.
Barack Obama can run again. In four years or eight years... whenever. He will be incalculably wiser for having gone through this battle.
And when he runs again, the Democratic big chiefs will be sorry they hadn’t cast their lot with him in 2008, instead of with the loser Hillary Clinton.
Okay, let’s flip it. Let’s say that Obama gets the nomination this year. And let’s say he loses to McCain, having been weakened and bloodied by the Clintons. If that happens, Obama can’t run again. He’ll have that stench of defeat on him.
And Hillary Clinton will run again in 2012, saying that the Democratic big chiefs should’ve backed her instead of Obama in 2008.
I am rooting for Obama to finish this primary season strong. I’d like to see him defeat John McCain.
But if he doesn’t get that chance, I won’t be shedding tears.
Am I making sense?