Tonight on Countdown, Keith Olbermann showed a clip of an interview that Barack Obama had with the Christian Broadcasting Newtork:
OBAMA: I think there is no doubt that [Hillary Clinton] has higher negatives than any of the remaining Democratic candidates, that’s just a fact. And there are some who will not vote for her. I have no doubt that once the nomination contest is over, I will get the people who voted for her. Now the question is, could she get the people who voted for me?
I’m sure this will open up another round of "What Barack Obama really meant," but the most charitable explanation is that many independent voters who would support him will vote for a Republican before they’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. Olbermann called it "impending political cannibalism," and it just did not sound good, especially when juxtaposed with Clinton’s statement today:
As soon as we have a nominee, we will be strongly united because the most important thing is to put a Democrat in the white house starting in January 2009.
To be fair, Edwards makes the "electability" argument all the time and I’m not wild about it there either, but Obama is taking it one step further and suggesting that some of his supporters objectively will never vote for Hillary Clinton. "Some people" won’t vote for her because she’s a woman and some won’t vote for Barack Obama because he’s an African American and so the "electability" argument is always going to have a nasty, unspoken dog whistle to it in this race. Which is all the more reason for any Democratic candidate, when they’re making that argument, to say that they’ll do everything in their power to get their supporters to line up behind the eventual nominee, no matter the outcome.
Because we’ve been down the other road before, where everybody who doesn’t win takes their marbles and goes home. And it wasn’t good.
(h/t scarce for the video)