There are man reasons that many Democrats are hoping the results of today’s Pennsylvania primary will finally bring the race to a close. But, if six months ago, anyone would have suggested that one of the reasons to end the race is so that Bill Clinton can leave the stage, they would have been laughed at. Bill Clinton was the most popular Democrat in memory, the only Democrat to win re-election since FDR, the master strategist and fundraiser. The last few months have tarnished his image terribly, mostly through self-inflicted wounds. Yesterday, the former president produced this howler. "If we were under the Republican system, which is more like the Electoral College, she’d have a 300-delegate lead here," Clinton said. "Disenfranchisement is not a good strategy for Democrats. We do a better job when people are in power." Huh? It is true that in the GOP primaries many states use the highly undemocratic winner-take-all system, as does the Electoral College. Of course, Clinton could ask Al Gore what he thinks of the Electoral College! More to the point, this hypothetical is entirely misleading: if Texas or Ohio had been a winner-take-all primary, you can bet the Obama campaign would have spent more resources there. But they weren’t and so it made more sense to focus on smaller states where the flat-footed Clinton campaign was not organized. The delegate allocation system of the Democrats – you only really pull ahead by winning big in a state – may be wrong, it may be right, but it is stupid to fault Obama and his campaign for doing a better job capitalizing on the system as it is. "Disenfranchisement" is a loaded word. Was Bill referring to the yet unseated delegations from Michigan and Florida? There again, it is wrong to blame Obama for playing by the rules and Hillary does not get brownie points for trying to change the rules ex post facto. There will be some kind of compromise to seat the delegations from these states long before the convention in Denver. The final insinuation that the people are not in power within the Democratic party is an odd claim for someone who is the very embodiment of establishment within the party. Clinton has to own the fact that Obama not only did a better job accumulating delegates, which is the objective of the nominating process, but that this year, more Democrats have voted for Barack than for Hillary. Even if you count Florida and Michigan where Obama was not competing. Such off-message comments as Bill Clinton uttered yesterday (and has throughout the campaign) are bad, but the greater damage he inflicted on his wife’s image had to do with their tax returns. $109 million in less than eight years? That’s a lot of strings. More importantly, for struggling, middle class voters looking for someone who understands their situation, the Clinton fortune does not suggest they understand how frustrating it is to put $20 of gas in your car and not see the gas gauge pass the halfway mark. If Hillary was not married to Bill, of course, she would be another smart senator from a big state. She would not have started the race with the enormous advantage of carrying the most popular brand name in Democratic party politics. But, there is a reason democracies are hostile to political dynasties: do we really need to listen to Bill Clinton ruminate about electoral politics for even another day? Please, good people of Pennsylvania – bring this thing to a close! And, let Bill Clinton go back to making his millions. Michael Sean Winters
Bill, Go Home!