Hillary Clinton's Nuclear Option

Most pundits are telling Senator Hillary Clinton that it's all over but the shouting.  The math is against her.  However, the math is also currently against Senator Obama -- neither candidate can earn the needed majority in the remaining primaries.  The decision will be made by the Democrats' superdelegates, who are not obligated to decide whom they support until the convention. And they are empowered to change their allegiance at any time, based on their "read" of what's best for the party.

This means that until the first ballot in Denver in August, Hillary still has a chance.

Conventional wisdom among those who pretend to know why Senator Clinton is hanging in there say she's waiting -- and hoping for -- an Obama scandal that will make Reverend Wright look like a footnote.  Because Senator Obama is so little known among the public, they've got their fingers crossed that some scandal that's worse than Reverend Wright will surface, and surface soon enough to persuade the superdelegates that Obama can't win.

The "sitting and waiting" strategy is out of character for the politically-savvy Clintons. It's possible they may be shell-shocked from the primary campaign's insane roller coaster ride.  However, once they have caught their breath, they may decide that the prize is worth exercising Hillary's "nuclear option" -- in effect, using surrogates to nuke Senator Obama so thoroughly that they will create that Obama Can't Win scandal out of what is already out there.

In this option, Clinton surrogates -- those public figures who are obviously in the tank for the Clintons, such as Lanny Davis and Paul Begala, as well as those who are not so obviously affiliated with the Clinton campaign -- will carry out the "nuke Obama" strategy on Senator Clinton's behalf, leaving her hands clean and her reputation unsullied.

What constitutes the Nuclear Option?

Senator Obama has gotten such a near-universal pass on his background that there remain potentially troubling elements to his career and life-story.  Bringing these forward now and painting them in the worst possible light could have a "death by a thousand cuts" impact on the largely untried Senator from Illinois, who has already shown that he's not at his best in responding to harsh and unexpected criticism.  Keeping Senator Obama dodging and ducking and bobbling defenses creates two opportunities:

  • Senator Obama's background will deliver that one "deal-killer" issue that will turn the superdelegates away from their popular favorite, or
  • The weight of unanswered criticism will collectively convince the superdelegates that Senator Obama can't win, and that the Party needs a win more than it needs Obama
Both options are long shots, to be sure, but there may be enough out there with which to criticize Senator Obama to make the nuclear option at least plausible.  Some might even say that the nuclear option campaign has already begun with Paul Begala's public pronouncement that the Party Can't Win by relying on white eggheads and African-Americans, a bombshell he dropped on CNN in a "debate" with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

What are the issues that could be included in the Nuclear Option?  Here is a sampling:

- Comb the archives of Trinity Church for a DVD that shows both Reverend Wright making yet one more of his offensively over-the-top statements ... and showing Senator Obama in the congregation, listening to his preacher. Senator Obama skirted responsibility for Wright, in part, by claiming that "I never heard him say that." Prove this defense wrong and it will not only tie Obama to Wright, but will paint him as a lying politician, and one not particularly adept at lying.

- Comb sources for home video of a speech that Senator Obama gave in conjunction with unrepentant Weatherman domestic terrorist Bill Ayres, and in this way, tie Senator Obama more tightly to this radical who's helped to kill Americans on American soil. Senator Obama has persuaded the media that he and Ayres are just neighbors, but video that would show them sharing a platform as allies could shake that excuse -- and Obama's credibility. With such a thin track record, the hope he is offering the Party and the American voters rests on a thin reed of credibility.

- Assuming that Tony Rezko is found guilty in his fraud trial, find some way to pressure prosecutors to offer Tony Rezko a sentencing deal in exchange for offering incriminating testimony that will tie Senator Obama far more closely to this shady political fund-raiser (currently in the midst of a bribery trial). The Rezko story has been largely overlooked by the media. Few voters understand the nature of the Rezko/Obama connection. But this Chicago politics as usual story of sordid minor-league corruption will further shake the Senator's image of electability.

- Push forward another story that has been largely ignored by the media: Senator Obama's radically permissive position favoring "birth control abortions," on-demand, for minors, and his related view that babies, including his own future grandchildren, are "punishments." As explained in American Thinker - one of the very few political media which even noted this statement  - in late March, Senator Obama said:

"Look, I got two daughters - nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." 
This is a position that would prove widely unpopular among moderate "values" Democrats and most independents in a general election with a pro-life candidate, this issue could be a political deal-breaker.
- Comb Senator Obama's voting record in the Senate and in the Illinois legislature and find every issue he's voted for (or against) that - if the vote were known - would make moderate Democrats and Independents uncomfortable with the Senator. Where possible, find video showing Senator Obama advocating these politically extreme or unpopular positions, making it hard for the Senator to deny that he was "in the pew" when those issues came up for consideration.

These five possibilites, along other issues that cast a bad light on Senator Obama, constitute Senator Clinton's "nuclear option."  These issues have been largely ignored, minimized or "put to bed" by the national mainstream political media, including media opinion leaders ranging from the New York Times to CNN, MSNBC and the broadcast news networks.  However, these same issues can be advanced by Clinton surrogates in a way that will force the media to take another look ... and force the super delegates to re-think their ultimate choice. 

That is Senator Clinton's last chance.  She has the opportunity, she has the strategy, and she and her advisors have the savvy to see how to raise these (and other) issues without leaving finger prints.  Independently, these individual issues are unlikely to be deal-killers,  but taken together, they might give Democratic Party superdelegates reason to reconsider Senator Obama, and favor Senator Clinton.

Senator Obama may declare victory on May 20th, but he may not have an easy three months until the Democratic National Convention in Denver.