An old coarse joke:

A man walks into a supermarket and ponders which toilet paper to purchase. He asks a stock person about the generic option. "Oh this is the new no-name line of products," he says. "They are much cheaper. Give it a try."

A few days later the shopper encounters the stock person in the supermarket once again: "I've come up with a name for your no-name toilet paper."


"Yes," the consumer says, "you can call it John Wayne toilet paper, because it's rough and tough and don't take excrement off nobody."

If I were to tell that joke today, with all due respect to the Duke, I would probably call it "Hillary Clinton" toilet paper.

Politics aside, she is one muy mal hombre.

A brief history of the repeated and exaggerated reports of the political demise of Hillary Clinton:

Dead as a doornail on the eve of NH (which she won). Clinging to life on the morning after NH and dead on the eve of Nevada (which she won). Dead after South Carolina. Presumed dead on the eve of Super Tuesday, after the Kennedy family collectively passed the torch to Barack Obama, mainstreaming the young lion for old guard Democrats and presumably neutralizing Hispanics--do you recall the spate of Bobby and César Chávez stories?

However, Mrs. Clinton spoiled her impending funeral by winning California, Arizona, and New Mexico on the strength of Latino votes, holding off a serious charge in New York and New Jersey, winning handily in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, and, sweetest of all, winning by a wide margin in Kennedy-land: Massachusetts, where both senators and the sitting governor endorsed her opponent.

Then came the Obama winning streak, fourteen in a row (including Virginia and Wisconsin).

Especially dead after Wisconsin. The week prior to Ohio and Texas ("Hillary's Last Stand"), Jonathan Alter exhorted her to show some class, respect party unity, and quit before any more votes could be cast.

An Observation: every Jonathan Alter column must include a random FDR quote, an ostensibly fair-minded weighing of the facts, followed by a conclusion that finds that Hillary is finished and Obama is ascendant.

Mrs. Clinton elected not to follow Alter's advice.

It was March 4th and long, and she stepped back into the pocket, scrambled, somehow evaded the grasp of several 300-pound linemen, and threw a perfect strike thirty yards down the field, which she somehow pinned with one hand against her helmet for one of the greatest big plays in the history of primaries.

She won RI, Texas, and Ohio.

Still alive.

Now after losing two more primaries that do not really matter much, the funeral dirge is once again playing non-stop on every station.

Now she is Tanya Harding. "She can only win by destroying her opponent." Yeah, that's how it pretty much works in American politics.

Jonathan Alter is taking a rest, evidently, but he must have tagged David Brooks to beat on Mrs. Clinton for a few rounds.

Brooks repeats the suggestion that Clinton do the heroic thing for her nation and her party and quit:

"If she [withdraws voluntarily], she would surprise everybody with a display of self-sacrifice. Her campaign would cruise along at a lower register until North Carolina, then use that as an occasion to withdraw."

Are these guys watching the same game I am?

One more time: this nomination will be decided by superdelegates. Both sides have arguments to make for the nod. Obama has the better case on the numbers--but that does not matter. Hillary's claim is compelling enough, especially with a big victory in Pennsylvania and solid wins in Indiana and North Carolina—from which she can emerge as the candidate with momentum.

Moreover, Obama just took his first big hit over the last fortnight. Barack boosters, like David Brooks, would like us to believe that Obama "weathered the Rev. Jeremiah Wright affair without serious damage to his nomination prospects," but I am skeptical.

There is a lag time to public polling. The daily numbers will be behind any real change in public sentiment resulting from this imbroglio. The public has not really had time to digest this affair.

In truth, Obama sustained a serious shot to his image, and we have no idea how debilitating the wound will prove to be.

Hillary Clinton would be foolish not to keep throwing into the end zone. Knowing what we know about her and this campaign thus far, we would be foolish to bet against her.

Endnote: kudos to Howard Kurtz for his tongue-in-cheek treatment of this phenomenon earlier in the week.