Sunday, May 4, 2008

Should Barack Drop Out?

For months we've been hearing that Hillary should drop out of the race for President. But Hillary's perseverance has brought the race to a point where the question can rightly be asked of Barack Obama - Why don't you drop out?

Folks will still say you're crazy for asking it, but that's because most people don't follow campaigns in real time, meaning they aren't current enough on trends to look into the future.

Blogger Chris Wilson wrote a piece in Slate a couple of weeks ago suggesting that Barack get out of the race. I'm not on board with the entirety of his analysis, but I do think Barack should get out. I'll give my argument after we examine Wilson's.

His logic? Hillary should have already dropped out, but she doesn't possess the power to get herself to do so. Barack, on the other hand, is fully capable of making such a decision:

And if he's really serious about representing a new kind of politics, now is the time for him to prove it in the only meaningful way left. Moreover, were he to play it right, dropping out now nearly guarantees that he'll be elected president in 2012.
Under Wilson's scenario, the split in the party would lead to Hillary's loss, but Barack would be canonized as the "new" sort of politician he's posing as now, and he would sail into the presidency in four years.
Mr. McCain will be eminently more beatable in 2012. Demographics will continue to shift in Mr. Obama's favor as his 14- to 17-year-old supporters come of voting age. Anyone foolish enough to challenge Mr. Obama for the nomination – and don't rule out Mrs. Clinton – will go nowhere.
Here's my take.

First, there's no reason that Hillary should have, at any point, considered leaving the competition. She is right that Barack can't win, so staying in can always be justified as an attempt to save the party from another George McGovern decision.

Barack should get out of the race now, but he should make a deal - he'll work to elect Hillary and encourage all democrats to do the same, but if she loses, she agrees to defer to him in 2012. Here's my thinking:

  1. Barack is a damaged candidate, a loser in '08. As a true liberal who is new to national politics, he hasn't been careful enough about who his friends are and will be ravaged in a national election. In four years, after Hillary's loss to McCain, he'll be better positioned to compartmentalize these issues.
  2. Barack is unqualified to be President. If he stays in the Senate for another term, he'll have a couple of years of experience outside of campaign season, so he'll be able to craft a small record to run on.
  3. It's going to be an awful time to be President. Were he to win, he would have to break his promise (lie) to withdraw troops on a strict timetable, and thus would be poorly situated for re-election in 2012, as Iraq would be his war. McCain will have to solve health care, a bad economy and Iraq. Those solutions will make for lots of angry people.
  4. McCain will be viewed as too old for another term, but he'll want it and won't defer to his VP.
  5. Barack will be the party leader in four years having fallen on his sword and handed the nomination to Hillary.
Is this likely to happen? Not right now. But if Barack takes a lickin' in Indiana similar to Pennsylvania, and North Carolina ends up a toss-up, then it will start to look like a very good idea for everyone, especially super delegates committed to Barack who will be looking for a way out of their bad decision if Hillary's surge in popularity continues.

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