State of the State

In The State ’s endorsement of Barack Obama—a coup he most likely didn’t need, but a coup nonetheless—the editorial board’s most compelling argument isn’t for Obama but against Hillary. In it, they imagine another Clinton presidency almost as a futuristic dystopia:

The restoration of the Clintons to the White House would trigger a new wave of all-out political warfare. That is not all Bill and Hillary’s fault—but it exists, whomever you blame, and cannot be ignored. Hillary Clinton doesn’t pretend that it won’t happen; she simply vows to persevere, in the hope that her side can win. Indeed, the Clintons’ joint career in public life seems oriented toward securing victory and personal vindication.

It’s become a refrain of the Obama campaign that they don’t want to relive the battles of the 90s. But this acute sense of dread—a preemptive Clinton fatigue—resonates for Dems who want a clean break from the past two decades. (For young people who don’t fully remember the Clinton years, the feeling is slightly different. They back Obama, I’m convinced, because of an identity politics rooted in age. They see Obama as their candidate—they can point to him and say, He’s mine —whereas Hillary belongs to earlier generations.) Meanwhile, however much Hillary wants to turn over a new leaf, her GOP opponents are more than happy to mull over the old ones. And with November a ways off, that will make for a long and painful general election.

That’s not to say Obama wouldn’t emerge from a general election bruised and battered. But the prospect of nine months of recriminations—let alone four or eight years of it—is enough to drive at least one editorial board over to the O team.