Pundits Declare the Race Over By JIM RUTENBERG
Very early this morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton’s continued viability as a presidential candidate.
The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.”
It was not exactly Walter Cronkite declaring that the Vietnam War would end in stalemate. But the impact was apparent almost immediately, starting with The Drudge Report, the online news billboard that is the home page to many political reporters in Washington and news producers in New York. It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Mr. Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Mr. Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”
The thought echoed throughout the world of instant political analysis, steamrolling the Clinton campaign’s attempts to promote the idea that her victory in Indiana was nonetheless an upset in the face of Mr. Obama’s heavy spending and his campaign’s predictions that he would win there, or that she could still come back if delegates in Florida and Michigan are seated.
“I think there’s an increasing presumption tonight that Obama’s going to be the nominee,” Chris Wallace, the Fox News host, said to Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political guru, who is now a Fox News analyst. The statement preceded a discussion about what a general election race would look like between Mr. Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator John McCain.
A posting on the DailyKos Web site included a mock memo to Mrs. Clinton titled, “To-Do List Before Dropping Out.”
Speaking on CNN, David Gergen, a former adviser to several presidents, including Mrs. Clinton’s husband, said, “I think the Clinton people know the game is almost up.”
Stating it more bluntly, Bob Franken, the political analyst, told the MSNBC host Dan Abrams shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, “Let’s put it right on the table: It’s over. It’s over.”
And it picked up again on the major morning news programs in a devastating cascade of sound bites for Mrs. Clinton and her campaign.
Bob Schieffer on the CBS News program “Early Show”: “Basically, Maggie, this race is over.”
George Stephanopoulos on the ABC program “Good Morning America”: “This nomination fight is over.”
Matt Lauer on the NBC News program “Today”: “Good morning, is it over?”
The commentary was punctuated by some brutal morning newspaper headlines: “Toast!” blared The New York Post; “Hil Needs a Miracle” declared The New York Daily News.
[. . .]
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Can she, WILL she, bow out with dignity?
From The New York Post: