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It’s a Storybook, Man

Barack Obama has ostensibly* passed the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination. The media have declared him the winner. He’s declared himself the nominee. Hillary Clinton hasn’t acknowledged either reality, yet, but seems resigned to it.

Obama Win Nomination

Obama Claims Victory

Sen. Barack Obama achieved the 2,118 needed to clinch the Democratic nomination for president last night and made history by becoming the first African American to win a major party’s presidential nomination, according to the ABC News scorecard.

The presumptive Democratic nominee locked up the nomination even before the votes were counted in the party’s final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana last night. Obama went on to easily win Montana last night by a margin of 57 percent to Sent. Hillary Clinton’s 42 percent. But Clinton, D-NY, snatched one last upset victory in South Dakota, with a 55-44 percent win. Nevertheless, Obama picked up enough delegates from those states to pad his margin of victory and was expected see additional superdelegates rally to his side today.

Making history by becoming the nation’s first African-American presidential nominee, Obama, D-Ill., emerges victorious from one of the longest and most closely fought Democratic nomination fights in recent history.

“Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another — a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” Obama told cheering supporters at an arena in St. Paul, Minn.

He graciously praised Clinton, despite the sometimes bitter exchanges the two had during the campaign. “Senator Hillary Clinton has made history in this campaign, not just because she’s a woman who has done what no woman has done before, but because she’s a leader who inspires millions of Americans with her strength, her courage, and her commitment to the causes that brought us here tonight,” Obama said. “Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete” with her, he said.

Were I a lit major, I’d find lots of symbolism in this:

Later, the candidates played some phone tag, ABC’s Sunlen Miller reports. A little after 11 pm, Obama left Clinton a message on an aide’s cell phone, congratulating Clinton on her South Dakota win and asking that she return the call. ABC’s Eloise Harper reports that some time later, Clinton returned Obama’s call. The two spoke very briefly and then the cell phone call dropped out. Clinton called him back and got his voice mail.

Clinton Keeping Options Open

For her part, Clinton refused to concede the race tonight. “This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight,” she told supporters in New York.

She does her best decision-making at 3 a.m., as we all know.

“In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way,” she said as supporters chanted “Denver, Denver!” pointing to the party’s convention in August.

Bringing the Party Back Together

Divisive as this race has been, mostly because Clinton continued a scorched earth campaign months after it was all but certain that Obama would prevail, I continue to believe that most Democrats will rally behind their nominee. It’s going to be a long five months to Election Day.

Still, let’s just say that white, religious folk in Appalachia aren’t the only ones who are bitter. Armando, one of the blogosphere’s most die-hard Clinton supporters, has graciously thrown in the towel. His commenters? Not so much.

From the other side, both Andrew Sullivan and Matt Yglesias have some harsh words for the Clintons.

More so than getting the Clintonistas on board, Obama’s biggest problem may be ridiculously high expectations. Sober journalists are asking questions like, “Can Obama make [the] American dream come true?” That’s a bit much to ask, methinks.

On the the General Election

Barack Obama is ever-so-slightly ahead in the national head-to-head polls with John McCain and should get a big bounce from last night. Barring major developments, that lead will grow as Hillary supporters make their way through the stages of grief and reach Acceptance.

Clinton’s dogged campaign provides something of a roadmap for Team McCain. Certainly, she’s provided plenty of footage for Republican television spots. It may well be that the weak points Clinton identified, which didn’t quite work with a Democratic nominating electorate, will go over better in a general election campaign.

It’s worth noting, too, that Clinton continued to win states right up until the last night despite the media having (rightfully) declared her campaign dead weeks ago. For all his oratorical skill, he’s a flawed candidate.

So, of course, is McCain. McCain publicly admitted that he would be too old to run for president in 2008 and yet here he is. The contrasts with the young, vigorous Obama will be stark. And any Democrat would be favored over any Republican this year, given the unpopularity of President Bush and the Iraq War. High gas and food prices, while having virtually nothing to do with Bush, let alone McCain, will also make things harder.

Still, McCain has a puncher’s chance. He’s not the orator Obama is but he’s good in debates and in front of crowds. His geezerly fifty years of public service is an asset as well as a liability. He’s got five months to convince people that he’s the better choice.

________________

*I have no doubt that Obama will win this thing and should win it given that he is ahead by any reasonable, objective measure. I merely note that, while Obama is leading Clinton among pledged delegates with no more contests remaining, he is only past the 2118 threshold by virtue of the inclusion of 394 superdelegates whose promise to vote for Obama is absolutely unbinding. Indeed, a handful of that number had previously pledged to vote for Clinton.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    If anti-conservative McCain wins it wont be because the masses of Americans are for him or what he proposes -it wil be because they fear Obama even more than they want Obama’s “free” government gifts.

    Too quote a famous comedian whose name slips this feeble mind -”What a revolting development this is!” (Red Skelton perhaps?)

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  2. McCain Blogs says:

    GOP Using Democrats Own Words Against Obama…

    Would this be considered being hoist on their own petard?
    (CNN) Hours before the polls closed Tuesday in the final two Democratic presidential primaries, the Republican National Committee began circulating a video of Hillary Clinton questioning Barack …

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  3. GOP Using Democrats Own Words Against Obama…

    Would this be considered being hoist on their own petard?
    (CNN) Hours before the polls closed Tuesday in the final two Democratic presidential primaries, the Republican National Committee began circulating a video of Hillary Clinton questioning Barack …

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  4. Michael says:

    Clinton’s dogged campaign provides something of a roadmap for Team McCain. Certainly, she’s provided plenty of footage for Republican television spots. It may well be that the weak points Clinton identified, which didn’t quite work with a Democratic nominating electorate, will go over better in a general election campaign.

    I still think that following a failed line of attack is a bad idea for McCain. Unless of course Hillary is in the VP slot, in which case the attack will take the form of a wedge, not a hammer, and may work that way.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    Too quote a famous comedian whose name slips this feeble mind -”What a revolting development this is!” (Red Skelton perhaps?)

    Via the power of Google, it’s William Bendix of “The Life of Riley,” a show of which I’d heard, mostly because its title became a catchphrase, but I’ve never seen.

    For some reason, I thought it was Jackie Gleason from “The Honeymooners.”

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  6. Bithead says:

    Too quote a famous comedian whose name slips this feeble mind -”What a revolting development this is!” (Red Skelton perhaps?)

    Jimmy Durante.

    If anti-conservative McCain wins it wont be because the masses of Americans are for him or what he proposes -it wil be because they fear Obama even more than they want Obama’s “free” government gifts.

    Well, I’ve been saying for months, now, that the best reasons Conservatives had to vote for McCain was Clinton and Obama. That’s not changed, nor is it new that the vote comes down to the lesser of two evils. That’s what we’ve been presented with since Reagan left office, truth to tell.

    Clinton’s dogged campaign provides something of a roadmap for Team McCain. Certainly, she’s provided plenty of footage for Republican television spots.

    I wonder a bit if the extended Clinton campaign might not have been the best thing for Obama and company, given that it diverts the press and it’s focus away from Obama’s biggest liabilities, and onto the Clinton Circus. Now that’s (mostly) done, he’s not going to have Clinton as a diversion anymore and he’s actually going to need to address the issues. I can’t but think his numbers will drop faster than the Stock prices of NTSC/525 televisions with the kind of exposure he’s about to get.

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  7. Dave Schuler says:

    mostly because its title became a catchphrase

    Other way around. The title was taken from an old turn of phrase.

    Yeah, I think that “What a revoltin’ development” was a catchphrase of Durante’s from his radio program (“Hot Lips” Houlihan was a reference to the Durante program, too—Florence Halop’s “Hot Breath” Houlihan) which Chester Riley quoted.

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  8. The contrasts with the young, vigorous Obama will be stark.

    Indeed, the contrast between the two men’s oratory skills were quite clear last night.

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  9. [...] to Outside the Beltway, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Maggie’s Notebook, Adam’s Blog, Right Truth, Leaning [...]

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  10. sam says:

    Yeah, it was William Bendix in The Life of Riley — and I’m old enough to remember the TV and radio show. Speaking of being old, my wife and I watched McCain’s speech last night, then Clinton’s and Obama’s. She said that in the campaign marathon to come, McCain might be run into the ground by the sheer physical demands of it all.

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  11. Neo says:

    Any reason to believe these folks ? ..

    The Michelle Obama Rant Tape was filmed between June 26th – July 1st 2004 in Chicago, IL at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference at Trinity United Church: specifically the Women’s Event.

    Michelle Obama appeared as a panelist alongside Mrs. Khadijah Farrakhan and Mrs. James Meeks.

    Bill Clinton spoke during the Conference, as did Bill Cosby and other speakers, but not at the panel Michelle attended.

    Michelle Obama spoke at the Women’s Event, but referenced Bill Clinton in her rant — his presence at the conference was the impetus for her raving, it seems.

    For about 30 minutes, Michelle Obama launched into a rant about the evils of America, and how America is to blame for the problems of Africa. Michelle personally blamed President Clinton for the deaths of millions of Africans and said America is responsible for the genocide of the Tutsis and other ethnic groups. She then launched into an attack on “whitey”, and talked about solutions to black on black crime in the realm of diverting those actions onto white America.

    Maybe the MSM can do their jobs and put this to rest.

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  12. Mark Jaquith says:

    High gas and food prices, while having virtually nothing to do with Bush

    What about Bush’s support of ethanol subsidies which makes gas less efficient, more expensive, and makes food more expensive? McCain, to his credit, opposes the subsidies.

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  13. James Joyner says:

    What about Bush’s support of ethanol subsidies which makes gas less efficient, more expensive, and makes food more expensive?

    True, although that’s both a longstanding, bipartisan policy and one that has a relatively negligible effect on fuel prices. It’s a lousy policy, though.

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  14. Bithead says:

    When Democrats took over Congress:
    * Gas was at $2/gal.
    * There was no housing/credit issue, indeed, there was a boom going
    * Food coss were far lower

    Since Democrats took over congress:
    * Gas is over $4/gal
    * THere’s a housing crunch, and a credit crunch
    * Food costs are skyrocketing

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  15. Michael says:

    Bit, are you trying to point out the stupidity of blaming people for events they don’t control, or being serious?

    On the one hand I know you’re smart enough to realize those are stupid arguments, but on the other side I know you like to blame Democrats for things they don’t control, so I can’t be sure.

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  16. Bithead says:

    You figure that one out.
    But it seems to me that it also points up the massive benefits of bipartisanship.

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  17. Bithead says:

    And BTW, Durante did it as well, though he may have borrowed the phrase.

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  18. It seems clear that the victory of style over substance in the presidential campaign is complete and irreversible.

    I, for one, do not welcome our new overlords.

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  19. Michael says:

    I, for one, do not welcome our new overlords.

    And we’ll thank you to keep that particular meme off of OTB.

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  20. Michael says:

    But it seems to me that it also points up the massive benefits of bipartisanship.

    Benefits to us, yes, but not to the people who we need to be bipartisan, which is why we will never see it.

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  21. Barak Obama Sr: “Problems facing our Socialism”…

    Via LGF Linkviewer….

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  22. [...] –James Joyner: Divisive as this race has been, mostly because Clinton continued a scorched earth campaign months after it was all but certain that Obama would prevail, I continue to believe that most Democrats will rally behind their nominee. It’s going to be a long five months to Election Day…. [...]

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  23. Bithead says:

    Your sarcasm meter appears to be malfunctioning.

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  24. Michael says:

    Your sarcasm meter appears to be malfunctioning.

    <sarcasm>Hmmm, nope, the meter’s fine, but it looks like you forgot to use sarcasm tags.</sarcasm>

    Please follow W3C specs in your comments.

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  25. Bithead says:

    W3C(a) (provisional)?

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  26. Michael says:

    No, this one

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  27. Assassination Double Standard…

    In New York today, an art exhibit was shut down. This morning, a Boston-born performance artist, Yazmany Arboleda, tried to set up a provocative art exhibition in a vacant storefront on West 40th Street in Midtown Manhattan with the title,……

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  28. Pug says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_of_Riley

    Appears it did originate with William Bendix in The Life of Riley.

    Seems like I also remember Jimmy Durante using it.

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  29. DL says:

    How long before we see the new preschool mdatory book reading of “The Little Messiah That Could”?

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  30. anjin-san says:

    When Bush took office:

    Gas price $1.46 Gallon
    WTC intact
    Health care costs under control

    Since Bush took office:

    Gas price $3.95 Gallon
    WTC destroyed
    Health care costs up over 100%

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  31. The Pink Flamingo’s 74th Edition Thursday Thirteen…

    THURSDAY THIRTEENThe Pink Flamingo’s 74th Edition Thursday ThirteenThirteen Historic Campaign AdsThis is a history of campaign ads on television.  Watch them and see how our world has changed.  There is a sophistication level now that was no…

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  32. [...] to Outside the Beltway, Rosemary’s Thoughts, third world county, Right Truth, Adam’s Blog, The Pink Flamingo, [...]

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  33. [...] to Outside the Beltway, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Maggie’s Notebook, Right Truth, Adam’s Blog, Leaning [...]

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