Josh Marshall is concerned:
In the week or so leading up to the Nevada caucus I feel like I heard more from and about Bill Clinton than I did about Hillary Clinton. Is that the media’s doing rather than the campaign’s? Maybe. But I don’t find the argument convincing and I’m not sure it would matter if it were true. What seems difficult to deny is that his rising profile is threatening her position as the dominant force in her own campaign.
And, as Michael Tomasky notes, that profile hasn’t been a positive one recently:
I don’t know who on this planet has the stature to go face-to-face with Bill Clinton and look him in the eye and tell him he behaved in a discreditable fashion. His wife? His buddy Vernon Jordan? Whoever it is, someone had better stop him. He campaigned against a fellow Democrat no differently than if Obama had been Newt Gingrich. The Clinton campaign may conclude that, numerically and on balance, Bill helped. But, trust me, to the thousands of committed progressives who supported him when he really needed it, who went to the mat for him at his moment of (largely self-inflicted) crisis but who now happen to be supporting someone other than his wife, he’s done himself a tremendous amount of damage.
The final price of victory is the splintering of base Democratic voters. African Americans solidified behind Obama, 79-18%. Hispanics, behind Clinton, 64-23%. Young voters went heavily for Obama. Old voters heavily for Clinton. These divisions threaten to flower into schisms. There will be plenty of time to put the pieces back together. But if Clinton becomes the nominee and black voters feel that Obama was treated unfairly … well, let’s imagine that black voter turnout in November is down by 10% in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. That could mean the difference between victory and defeat in those three states.
The short term effect of Bill’s ruthlessness on the stump may well lead to Senator Clinton receiving the Democractic nomination. But, like Obama’s courting of independents and dissident Republicans, it is a dangerous strategy to employ during a primary campaign. And, as Tomasky observes, the last thing anyone in either Donkey camp wants is a fissure to open in the Democratic Party base that leads to voters staying home in November due to disgust over tactics employed during the primary season.
As noted in a recent Politico article, the GOP electorate is demoralized and disorganized; this election is the Demoratic Party’s to win or lose. But the circular firing squad mentality that has developed in recent weeks among the two major Democratic candidates gives the Republicans more of a chance in the general election than the party of Lincoln should realistically have. If the US ends up putting a Republican into office in November it will only be because some Democrats let ego overrule pragmatism and lost sight of the ultimate goal.