It’s about a minute to midnight for Hillary Clinton and when that White House phone rings she won’t be the one to answer it.

The most drawn-out nomination campaign seems set in the next 24 hours to come to some conclusion. Obama has almost painted himself as the overall winner rather than waiting for Clinton to concede defeat – but Hillary Clinton is as good as dead, even if she’s taking her sweet time in gasping that final breath.

As Slate — which had been conducting The Hillary Deathwatch for some weeks now — puts it, the real question may not be “How dead is she?”, but “When will she realise it?”

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So where did it all go wrong for the bug-eyed lady? Here are the top-ten death-inflicting Hillary moments:

  • The Martin Luther King slur. Way back in January, Hillary set the death ball rolling. On Martin Luther King’s importance to the civil rights movement, she said his dream only began to be realised when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “It took a president to get it done,” she said. Clinton didn’t go so far as to compare herself to Johnson and Obama to King, but it didn’t take much to pick the subtle parallel and it cost her crucial votes in South Carolina.
  • Commercial cock-up #1. The commercial with the sleeping child (who was undoubtedly threatened by some unspecified force throughout the world) scared voters into backing Clinton. Some even thought they wanted Hillary to be the one “answering a 3AM. emergency phone call to the White House”. The ad worked to an extent, and all was looking up with wins in Texas and Ohio on Super Tuesday, until 17-year-old Casey Knowles – the sleeping child – emerged as a fierce Barack Obama supporter. Many asked then whether letting this woman near a phone was in fact the last thing America needs.
  • Those imaginary snipers. In March, Hillary said in a prepared speech that during a trip to Bosnia as First Lady in 1996: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Then footage emerged of her casually strolling from the plane (with Chelsea no less)… Oops. Clinton conceded she “misspoke” the true event and reduced it to nothing more than a “minor blip”. But Obama made sure he took advantage, rolling out three Bosnian war veterans to prove Clinton’s claim was dishonourable, and the ensuing message became that Hillary was prepared to stretch the truth to help her campaign.
  • Commercial cock-up #2. In her newest slander on Obama titled “Kitchen” — as in, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of it” — a solemn voice asks “Who do you think has what it takes?” This one takes the cake with none other than Osama bin Laden making a special cameo appearance. She was slammed by political commentators for using scare tactics. On the other side of the coin, Fox News shock jock Bill O’Reilly reckoned that bin Laden would actually welcome Hillary as President because she’d be “weak” and “easy to test”.
  • Obama’s blackness = success. In another twist to Hillary’s ever-dwindling campaign, it became clear that she could really do without some of her supporters, particularly the sexist and racist ones. One of her campaign finance committee members and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro made a speech in support of Clinton, but the only bit anyone remembered was when she said that “if Obama was a white man (or a woman), he would not be in this position”. Obama’s camp accused Clinton of race-baiting as part of the an “insidious pattern” of underhanded comments. Ferraro quit the campaign, but the damage was done.
  • Not afraid of bombing. Clinton threatened “obliterate” Iran if it launched a nuclear attack on Israel, in an aggressive rhetoric that Obama claimed echoed the “bluster” of President Bush.
  • Tax slash clash. In the build-up to the crucial Indiana and South Carolina primary duo, Hillary demonstrated her uncanny ability to pander to voters’ weakness for quick fixes when she supported Republican nominee John McCain’s call for a “tax holiday” on fuel. But when most of the big economists say it’s a bad idea, it probably is.
  • The odd Indiana moment. Clinton narrowly held on to the Indiana primary (Obama convincingly took South Carolina), but in a strange moment she declared that “no matter what happens, I will work for the nominee of the Democratic Party because we must win in November.” It was a rare olive branch. Speculation reached fever pitch. Is the end nigh?
  • In the wind? Today, there are “many signs of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s exit from the presidential race are in place”, says Carolyn Locchead in the SFGate.com. She’s heading to New York for the last primary election, “a classic setting for an elegiac yet forward-looking speech”. And then there’s that comment Bill made…

The timeline is really only missing one entry.

  • Hillary concedes loss. Insert concession speech here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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