“Hillary to go on past Texas”. God she can’t, can she? In the words of someone, forget who, yes she can. With some polls still showing her in the lead in Ohio and only a couple of points behind in Texas, there’s every possibility of an ugly, messy, chaotic result, leaving La Clinton capable of running on right to the great plains of Montana and South Dakota in early June, and then to the convention.

That would mean a delegate-by-delegate fight for the loyalty of the superdelegates, and a possible attempt to re-seat the Florida and Michigan delegates – if there hasn’t been an attempt to have those primaries reheld in the ensuing months. Hillary’s argument No.29 on this – it’s really just like having Bill there, in a pants suit – is that while she agreed not to campaign in either of these states, the decision not to seat delegates from that state was made by the Democratic National Committee, not her.

Could she really put the party through this? Well, consider this. In her latest sally against Obama’s lack of experience, she noted that “I have years of experience in foreign policy, Senator McCain has decades of experience in foreign policy, Senator Obama has a speech from 2002.”

Perhaps what she was trying to say, clumsily, was, once again, that she was the better candidate to go toe-to-toe with the last American hero, but it came out like an endorsement of McCain over Obama – one the GOP will no doubt flog to death in the campaign proper, and the sort of thing that inevitably happens in long campaigns, which is why the great and the good want to, as one Texashead said, “take her round the back of the barn”.

He meant to shoot her, of course. Nothing indecent. This is Texas.

The fact that the polls have held in the last day or two and not continued to cascade downwards towards Obama has been the principal reason for a new upbeat from the Clinton camp. That’s been helped by the way that the media started to crest and turn on Obama, pretty much in the last 12-24 hours. It’s the usual switch out of sheer boredom and the need for a new angle, but there’s some grist now, with the first day in the trial of Antoin “The Tony” Rezko, the Chicago property, erm, entrepreneur with whom Obama was associated in his Chicago days.

Obama will be p-ssing razor blades with relief that he’s not on the witness list announced for the trial today, but it ain’t over yet, as revelations that Obama may have got a sweetheart deal for the $1m+ house he and his wife own in Chicago’s suburbs. Obama was a corporate lawyer for a while, but for a long time he was working for below scale in community work. Wife Michelle claims that they only managed to make it to the suburbs because of his two best-selling books – but since Michelle is also under scrutiny for a cheap land deal she might have got from the same Rezko, it is all looking pretty iffy.

Iffy, but hardly dynamite. Shouldn’t be done if you’re a legislator, but most of those already turned towards Obama aren’t going to be dissuaded by a hand-up for homeownership. Indeed the subprime crisis may make it more excusable to many – do what you have to do to get a bit of property. But bit by bit it may start to tarnish goldenboy. Hillary must be champing at the bit to get into the race on this, but she is of course prevented by the other side of her years of experience – the Whitewater “scandal” that occupied a lot of the early years of the Clinton administration. There was almost nothing to this charge that the Clintons had unfairly benefited from an Arkansas land development deal, but it stuck in the minds of the American public – including many Democrats – as a “smoke and fire” sort of thing, especially when Kenneth Starr bundled it up with the Monica allegations to make the whole show run longer than an Andrew Lloyd-Webber, albeit considerably less painful – even for the Clintons.

It illustrates the trouble Hillary has with the experience riff – if she really wanted to let rip she’d say: “Look I was brilliant and driven and I fell in love with this big galoot with incredible command and charisma who looked like he might go all the way but then he kidnapped me to Ala-frikkin-bama and banged everything in denim cutoffs, and would still be propping up the end of Hank’s bar if I hadn’t kicked his ass all the way to the White House where I screwed up the first coupla years with an unsellable health plan and he scr-wed up the last coupla years with scr-wing AND YOU THINK AFTER ALL THAT I CAN’T HANDLE PUTIN?”

That would be the speech that would take her over the line, in my opinion, not so much a piece of oratory as side two of a Tammy Wynette album, blasting all before them- Obama would look like a prissy college kid – and have you seen the man dance? My god. There’s an old Kentucky Fried Movie sketch with BB King launching an appeal to discover a cure for ‘blacks without soul’ and goddamit if we haven’t found it – run for President.

So that’s the pre-primary state of play. There seems no chance that she’ll get the sort of result that she needs to keep going with any sort of credibility – but the look in her eyes is that of political bubble-madness, when rationality has long since thrown in the towel, and there is nothing left but the pulse of victory and above all deep deep hate. Will someone bring her down when the moment comes? It will require some sort of dart.

Mind you if she does bail out it will leave the truly bizarre situation where the keenly contested primary is concluded while the already decided one is still in play, with the increasingly-less-slim-than-he-was Mike Huckabee floating through the remaining states like a re-inflating dirigible. Which will be of enormous assistance in keeping McCain in plain sight of the moderate vote.

Unless it doesn’t. We’ll know when the Texas combined primary/caucus/convention vote is fully counted. In April.

Peter Fray

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