The upcoming May 6 Indiana primary is make or break, do or die, sudden death, but not just for Clinton—even more so FOR OBAMA!

For the first time in this long campaign, the pressure is finally on Barack Obama. If he does not win Indiana, his nomination chances plummet precipitously.


Since February 19th, the night of the Wisconsin primary (more than two months ago, and the last time Barack was in the news for something positive), Mrs. Clinton has accomplished every task on her seemingly impossible journey back to viability. In the meantime, Obama has struggled, stumbled, and stagnated.

A Review:

Understanding that her opponent was on a tremendous roll after Wisconsin, Mrs. Clinton needed to sweep Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. She did.

Understanding that the superdelegates would eventually decide this nomination, and understanding that they clearly favored Obama at that moment, she also needed to raise serious doubts about the frontrunner's ability to govern and, more importantly, his ability to win in November. She did.

RIGHT NOW: Obama is bleeding profusely from two gaping holes: Jeremiah Wright (scary anti-American radicalism) and the "clinging to God and guns" comment (unseemly liberal elitism). Even worse, the spectacle of a six-week, highly visible contest in which he spent 30 million dollars to lose to Hillary Clinton by ten points torpedoed his image as a charismatic champion.

Now he is merely a wounded pol trying desperately to hold on to a slim lead and run out the clock.

Can he do it? What does he have left?

The Media and "the Math."

The remaining Obama "fairy tale" is currently powered almost entirely by friendly reporting, advocacy in editorial boards, and vituperative op-eds.

In a political contest, in which the perception is the reality, without question, the best thing to have is the fourth estate. Nevertheless, friendly media does not necessarily guarantee ultimate success (just ask Mike Huckabee).

Hype and hope can only propel a candidate so far. At some point, media darlings have to demonstrate their worthiness in the public arena. At some point, Barack Obama needed to throttle Mrs. Clinton at the ballot box in a momentous showdown state. Of course, the media has helped mightily toward that end by softening her defenses with negative press and templates advantageous to him--but, somewhere along the line, he needed to throw the knock-out punch himself. And he has not.

The clock is ticking. He has one last chance: Indiana. The pressure is on.

What about the Math?

In truth, the math is mostly spin and perception. Mrs. Clinton brilliantly announced yesterday that she was ahead in the popular vote.

Why not?

Who is keeping track of the popular vote anyhow?

Since the gross popular vote has nothing to do with the nomination process, why can't we count Michigan and Florida? People in Michigan and Florida voted. Who says we cannot include them in the official unofficial (and altogether meaningless) tabulation of national votes.

All of that is perception. This is a battle to control the perception.

Genius on the part of Mrs. Clinton, but she must make this assertion stick. Expect her to pound away at it every day in every speech in every venue, all the while aiming her message at a national audience.

Why is this key? What is meaningful about this meaningless statistic?

Once Mrs. Clinton convinces the Democratic Party leaders that she is the safer bet to win in the fall, she must also offer a "moral argument" that allows the superdelegates "cover" to deny the victory to Obama. The "popular vote majority" cancels out the "elected-delegate" plurality. This narrative of rightful Clinton victory empowers the party wise persons to award the nomination to Mrs. Clinton, if they are so inclined.

This is where the media and the math have to come together. She needs to break the wedge of friendly media running interference for Obama.

Can this happen? Surprisingly, yes it can.

Here is the other nagging problem for Obama in regard to his media firewall: his ostensibly trustworthy loyalists in the press corps are fair-weathered friends. The clock is ticking on them as well. They have been watching the same game we have. They too know what he needed to do over the past two months--and they fully understand that he failed miserably.

They are nervous and growing more skittish with each passing day. My sense is that a stampede away from Obama is imminent. If the ladies and gentlemen (mostly gentleman) of the fourth estate take a notion that their fair-haired pal is about to make them look ridiculous, they will abandon him with head-spinning alacrity.

In the blink of an eye, this beloved philosopher king will find himself a reviled and unworthy pretender.

Bottom Line: Indiana may very well prove to be the one and only winner-take-all contest in the Democratic race for nomination.