Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is it over?
What last week seemed like random discussion has grown into a question big enough for columnists on all sides to discuss: Is Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House finished?

The immediate answer is no, since the New York senator is still campaigning. But more and more people seem to be jumping to the conclusion that Clinton's chances at the Democratic nomination are doomed.

Robert Novak takes on the issue in his latest column, asking who will be the one to "bell" the senator.

I'm not going to be the one to do it. The Clintons are political survivors. Time and time again, whether it be before his presidency or during it, Bill Clinton was in a jam. Gennifer Flowers. Paula Jones. Monica Lewinski. Whitewater.

And yet, the 42nd president survived, and remained quite popular in doing so. How he pulled it off is anyone's guess. But it certainly shows that the couple does not go quietly. It has succeeded too many times to believe it can't again.

And yet, as Senator Barack Obama continues the march to his coronation in Denver (where the Democratic Convention will be held), it is becoming less and less likely the New York senator can come back. Even if she wins Ohio and Texas next week, the task still is daunting.

Novak compares Sen. Clinton's plight to one of President Richard Nixon in 1974:

The Democratic dilemma recalls the Republican problem, in a much different context, 34 years ago, when GOP graybeards asked: "Who will bell the cat?" -- go to Richard M. Nixon and inform him he had lost his support in the party and must resign the presidency. Sen. Barry Goldwater successfully performed that mission in 1974, but there is no Goldwater facsimile in today's Democratic Party (except for Sen. Ted Kennedy, who could not do it because he has endorsed Obama).

If Kennedy holds the same stature with the Democrats as Goldwater did with the Republicans, then the party is in miserable shape. I do find it interesting that Novak uses the story of Goldwater, since Mrs. Clinton was once herself a Goldwater Girl.

Regardless, I can see only one person who will be able to tell the New York senator it's over -- Bill Clinton. If the former president can't figure out a way to overcome the odds, then his wife is toast.

But I still don't think we're there yet.



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