Monday, August 27, 2007

Morris: Is Hillary's Lead Self-Fulfilling?

Dick Morris has an interesting column at Townhall, suggesting that Democrats increasingly perceive Hillary Clinton as their nominee, so they are closing ranks around her:

Have the Democrats, in their hearts, anointed Clinton as their candidate already? Do they regard the criticisms of her fellow candidates as just fissures in a party they are determined to keep united and focused on the objective of defeating President Bush? Are they rallying around their standard-bearer a year before she is awarded their standard?

The Democratic desire to bring the Bush administration to an end and their desperation to terminate the war in Iraq is so polarizing the electoral process that there seems to be little room for primaries anymore. The notion that Democrats compete against one another to find out, at best, who would be a good president and, at worst, which would be most likely to win, seems to becoming increasingly passé. In a sense, the entire primary process, which has dominated presidential selection since 1972, appears to be losing its grip in the face of a determination to rally around the candidate, even if she be anointed, in the first instance, by the established leaders of the party, meeting, these days, in a smoke-free environment to make their choice.

Hillary was reviled by the activist, netroot base as wrong on Iraq -- the paramount issue of the day. Just a few months ago, they were livid at her refusal to apologize. Now it seems, they have made peace with her, and she even finds defenders among her former Netroots critics.

In 2004, Democrats nominated John Kerry because he was the most 'electable,' and they 'wanted to win.' Now it seems that Hillary might become the nominee simply because she happened to be winning at the time primary voters became engaged enough to begin calling for an end to the infighting. Her lead now becomes the reason that she cannot be criticized -- because Democrats don't want to weaken her for the general election.

What will it take to break Hillary's hold? And to what extent is her advantage simply a reflection that her opposition is not really ready-for-prime-time.

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