The last dictator of Brazil, João Baptista Figueiredo, holed up in the palace at the end of his reign refusing to accept that Democracy had returned. He left the presidential Palácio do Planalto literally through the back door, refusing to pass the presidential sash to his successor José Sarney.
The Clintonistas had spent the last two years holed up in the palace they thought was the Democratic Party headquarters, waiting for the restoration of their regime. Earlier in these pages I recalled the story of Propaganda Minister Sid Blumenthal 16 months ago, telling a room full of Los Angeles liberals they better get on the Hillary train, because it was leaving the station and they had long memories. But now they are like Figueiredo, holed up in the Palace refusing to understand their moment has passed.
Lanny Davis, an aide in the Clinton White House, said he was circulating a petition asking Mr. Obama to pick Mrs. Clinton as his running mate. Mr. Davis said he was acting on his own.
The next 10 days are the first great test of Barack Obama as the leader of the new Democratic Party. If he cannot stand up to this ruthless manipulation by the Clinton machine, he will have failed the millions who have joined his campaign to truly change the politics of this country. I am fully confident that he has the strength to resist this horrid idea that Hillary as VP could help his candidacy. It would do the opposite–destroy the foundation of change and progress he stands on.
The cable networks of course have every interest in keeping this story of the powerful “Hillary Movement” alive, to keep us tuned in to what has been an advertising and ratings bonanza far beyond what their business plans predicted 12 months ago. Dana Milbank acknowledged this in his piece about the surreal Clinton gathering last night:
A crew from “The Daily Show joined the party, and, hoping to keep Clinton in the race, struck up a cheer of “Four more months!”. Such an outlandish thing seemed almost plausible among the Clinton backers in the hermetically sealed Baruch gym. Below ground level, there was no cellphone or BlackBerry reception, and there was no television playing in the room. That meant that they could not see the network projections showing that, while Clinton had won South Dakota, Obama had won enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Instead, they listened to Tom Petty‘s “Won’t Back Down.”
But no one should be fooled by Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer or Bill O’Reilly trying to make us fear that the dictator holed up in the back rooms of the palace still has command of the army. The Clintons can either graciously pass the sash to Obama and come out the front door to the cheers of the crowd–or they can sneak out the back door.
It’s their choice.