Ugly Weapons

Last week, we traced the New York Times editorial page’s growing disenchantment with Hillary Clinton, whom they endorsed back in February.

Today, the editorial board argues that Clinton has every right to stay in the race. “But …”

we believe just as strongly that Mrs. Clinton will be making a terrible mistake — for herself, her party and for the nation — if she continues to press her candidacy through negative campaigning with disturbing racial undertones. We believe it would also be a terrible mistake if she launches a fight over the disqualified delegations from Florida and Michigan.

In other words, she can stay in the race as long as she doesn’t use the only weapons she has left .

This is what will, I believe, turn the remaining superdelegates against Clinton. (Even after Tuesday, they’ve been hesitant to take sides.) The only weapons she has left are ugly ones. The race case, which Clinton articulated in an interview with USA Today (“Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again”), is a particularly yucky line of argument. Her point isn’t new; her phrasing is. And when it’s enough to turn off Joe Conason , you know the end is nigh.

Her other case, that Florida and Michigan must be seated, isn’t as bad as the Times suggests. There will certainly be heated negotiations over how to seat the delegates, but the Obama camp isn’t putting up as big a fight as before . The reason: If the DNC halves the votes of the Florida and Michigan delegations, as it likely will, Clinton still can’t catch up. She could claim that counting Florida and Michigan means she won the popular vote, but that’s a shaky leg on which to rest your candidacy when Obama wasn’t on the Michigan ballot.