Hillary Holds!

With 84 percent of the vote counted (10:23 p.m. CDT), Hillary fluctuates between an eight- and ten-point victory in Pennsylvania. Eight is enough--but ten is especially satisfying.

UPDATED: It’s official. Hillary by Ten.

For some reason the talking heads arbitrarily proclaimed a ten-point margin in the Quaker State as the threshold for viability for Mrs. Clinton—patently ridiculous on its face. Why the underdog must give a ten point handicap to the favorite is beyond me; regardless, overcoming the capricious spread makes the triumph all the more savory.

Hillary is still on the job. She will be back in the office tomorrow relentlessly slogging away, sniffing at the heels of the front runner, dedicated to the proposition that she must win by any means necessary.

Will it matter?

Who knows? The leadership of the Democratic Party seems strangely committed to Obama--regardless of the increasingly apparent perils ahead.

As we know so well, “the math” is still on his side. Awarding the nomination to Hillary Clinton still requires some uncomfortable gymnastics--even as Hillary seems to emerge as the smarter move and safer play.

We said more than two months ago:

The nomination is coming down to the super delegates. If they voted today, they would vote for Obama because he seems unstoppable. The good news for Clinton: they are not voting today. She has time to punch a hole in his balloon.


It will be very tough, but Clinton must sweep the upcoming final big three states [Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania] (very difficult but not impossible). For all that has gone sour in her campaign, Hillary has consistently excelled in these upscale high-stakes contests. Then, most importantly, she must somehow break the "spell" of Obama by casting doubt on him in some way between now and the day of decision.

I have always seen Obama as a big gamble: he could prevail in a huge way ("painting the map blue" as he says). Or we could wake up from our trance midway through the coming fall election season and suddenly look at this guy and say: "what in the hell are we doing?"

Between now and this summer, I can certainly envision a moment in which strategically minded Democratic Party bigwigs entertain grave doubts about Obama's electability. In that scenario, three for the price of one (Obama as VP) may emerge as a much safer bet.

TODAY: Mission So Nearly Accomplished On All Fronts.

The Two Remaining Substantial Obstacles?

1. The Intractable media support for Obama.

2. Even more problematic, the thoroughly unappealing task of telling African-American Democrats and fresh-faced "millennials" that their candidate, who won the pledged-delegate race fair and square, will not be the nominee of their party.

As many have pointed out, the Clintons have only themselves to blame on this count. In actual fact, Obama’s delegate lead is fairly misleading and mostly the result of Team Clinton’s decision not to sweat the small stuff. If the campaign had waged even a half-hearted effort to organize for the presumably small-potatoes out-of-the-way caucuses, all of this would be academic. Hillary would be pivoting for Labor Day and printing up her new business cards for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue right now. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Who knew all those little contests would add up to the deciding factor?

There have been pleasant surprises for Hillary, however. Although I thought her speech last night was flat and rushed and oddly strained, in general, she has proved infinitely more appealing and more energetic on the campaign trail than anyone could have imagined. She found her identity (the indomitable scrapper) somewhere along the way and, indisputably, emerged as the star of her own show.

As for Bill, he has not been nearly as bad as advertised. He had difficulty adapting to second fiddle--but he has transitioned pretty darn well, all things considered. For the most part, anyone would have been hard-pressed to foresee the curious treatment Clinton-42 would receive from the Obama-worshiping press corps. Imagine a superstar athlete who, accustomed to enjoying favorable calls from the refs throughout his career, faced a series in which the refs suddenly were calling him for fouls he never knew existed. Pretty frustrating. Just desserts we might say--but, hear this, rest assured, if the Clintons make it to the next round, all the old rules will re-apply and the old galloping and slashing Bill will be back in vogue.

One last prediction and/or suggestion: look for Hillary to defend Bill against the next wave of media criticism—whenever that next dustup arrives (perhaps sooner than later). It is time to defend the husband. She has been careful not to wade into his imbroglios with the press and other Democratic gray hairs--but it is time to go on record in support of the old warhorse. My hunch is that the voters are to the point where they think Bill has suffered enough comeuppance and stand ready to forgive and embrace him once again.

This thing is not over—not yet.