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by Russell Morse

Balkanized Democrats Could Give White House to McCain

(PNS) -- It is an overused metaphor in the world of political reporting: the horse race. This is the numbers game, the poll-surfing and guessing that fuels the excitement behind candidates' numerical progress.

The horse race sweeps fundamental issues aside in favor of long conversations about, say, how the Reverend Jeremiah Wright controversy is tilting the numbers among white males over 50. It's like the game at the carnival where you shoot the water in the clown's mouth to blow up a balloon: sure, there's a winner every time, but what exactly are we doing here?

This election season has exposed a flaw in the metaphor: Horse races are exciting because they are quick and decisive. There are no horse marathons. Yet four months after Super Tuesday, we are exhausted, disgusted and find ourselves looking to places like Guam for salvation.

In fact, the same day that Chamorros cast their vote for Barack Obama, America's attention was instead focused on the biggest day in thoroughbred history: the famously "decadent and depraved" Kentucky Derby. If you missed it, let me offer a brief and heartless synopsis: the favored horse won and the second place horse -- Eight Belles -- broke both of her ankles and was quickly euthanized, right there on the track.

In 134 years of running the derby, a filly -- a female horse -- has won only three times.

Hillary Clinton asked her supporters to place bets on Eight Belles, saying, "I hope that everybody will go to the derby on Saturday and place just a little money on the filly for me."

Considering Eight Belles' fate and the results of last night's primaries, Clinton should be thankful that she doesn't have a rider with a crop on her back.

Obama swept to a startling victory in North Carolina and came within a couple of points of Clinton in the Indiana contest. As early as midnight, the Huffington Post ran the headline "Presumptive Nominee" above a photo of Michelle and Barack Obama, waving to supporters, drenched in confetti.

A big night for Obama could not have come sooner. I spoke with a young Obama supporter before the polls closed who told me that if Clinton wins both states and the thing drags on, she's "giving up," adding, "I don't care any more. It's too much."

The balloon of youthful optimism has been slowly deflating for weeks now.

Obama's overwhelming victory in North Carolina may have drawn this thing to a close in time to bring back the hopeful, the young, the optimistic, the people who climbed out of the cave of indifference back in January, only to be chased back in weeks later.

Clinton put up a fight and was rewarded with an almost Florida-thin victory in Indiana. But what's a hair's breadth victory in a medium sized state at the end of a losing run?

It is my hope that the close comes in time to reinsert some hope and optimism.

She doesn't seem to be going anywhere, though. I've been asking myself for weeks now, "What is she still doing here?" It's gotten to the point that watching her is like watching an episode of The Hills: mundane, maddeningly dull and ultimately meaningless. I find myself asking out loud, "Who watches this? Why is this so popular?

It is my opinion that Clinton's defeat was signaled by her endorsement of Eight Belles just before the derby. Sports analogies have been historically problematic for her. Weeks ago, campaigning in Philadelphia (a city she lost), she compared herself to Rocky, forgetting of course that in the film, Rocky was an over the hill contender who trained hard and fought valiantly, but was ultimately defeated by a charming black guy.

Last night Hillary Clinton went onstage in Indiana and delivered a victory speech, in full defiance of reality. At one point, she raised her hand and addressed her supporters, saying, "Thanks to you, it's full speed to the White House!" Sadly for Hillary and Eight Belles, you can't run full speed with two broken ankles.

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Albion Monitor   May 7, 2008   (

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