Here’s the thing that should trouble any Obama supporter: The Clinton campaign has dictated the media narrative of this campaign at every turn.
Credit to the Clintons. They’re phenomenal at this stuff. They wanted the race to be about race. Suddenly, it was. (To their detriment, as it turned out, but they made that bed.) In the last week, they wanted it to be about NAFTA and national security. Boom. That’s the storyline.
Obama can make news. When he raises $55 million or takes a bunch of states in a row, he wins the news cycle. But in those down moments between actual news events, he can get pummeled.
Even as Obama was kicking ass and taking names in caucuses and primaries for an entire month, the Clinton narrative of “Wait ’til Texas” burbled steadily on the back burner. Why? Some of this must be deference to the dynasty. But it gets ridiculous: On MSNBC Tuesday night, even before the returns came in, David Gregory was channeling Mark Penn with tales of “buyer’s remorse” and the overwhelming significance of victories in big states.
Meanwhile, the networks and the dailies all crowned Clinton the victor of Texas, when in reality it’s Obama who is going to come away with more delegates. The significance of Ohio is that it rolled back Obama’s delegate gains from Louisiana. That’s it. It erased the deficit of created by one of his 11 consecutive victories.
Now, it’s like Mississippi and Wyoming don’t even exist. Together, they’ve got more delegates to seat than Iowa or South Carolina. And it’s overwhelmingly likely that Obama will net more delegates in these two states than — perhaps in each of them individually — than Clinton did on her big comeback night.
Instead, we’re told, it’s on to Pennsylvania, where — like Ohio — she’s got massive support from the state Democratic establishment, and the benefit of a closed primary.
Suddenly, the only states that “matter” in the media narrative are the ones where Clinton starts with a double-digit advantage.
Here’s reality: Obama’s not in nomination trouble. He’s got a commanding lead in both delegates and the popular vote. Short of self-immolation by Obama, there’s nothing Clinton can do that’s going to change that, even if Florida and Michigan re-vote.
But it is a sign of trouble that, heading into a long general election campaign, Obama’s camp seems so unable to shape the news cycle when they can’t go out and make some news of their own.