Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung, but She’s Warming Up

DC Politics National Politics
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Source: AP. Graphic: Kevin Schaul and Samuel Granados. Washington Post

Newark   How many Tuesdays can be super? We must have calendared three or so by now?

In the latest, Donald Trump obliterated the field, besting the combined totals of both Florida’s own Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, sufficiently to force Rubio to drop his bid for the nomination. Trump also won North Carolina and Illinois and may end up taking Missouri in a close battle with Cruz, only losing Ohio to favorite son and current Governor John Kasich. Kasich says he’ll hang in, believing that the rest of the primary calendar with states like New York, New Jersey and California will favor his more middle-of-the-road effort. The math though says that there’s no way anyone catches Trump.

Hillary Clinton smashed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Florida and North Carolina and beat him solidly as well in Illinois and Ohio while leading the race in Missouri for an overwhelming takedown. The signs of a momentum swing in the rust belt after Sander’s upset victory in Michigan disappeared without a trace. My email inbox was missing its usual exhortations from the Working Families Party and Move-on boosting Sanders’ campaign. It’s man against the machine now, and all over but the shouting.

Paul Begala, a longtime Clintonista, political operative, CNN commentator and, frankly, a pretty funny guy, cracked wise in a discussion about a potential someday Rubio comeback that “Rubio’s future is behind him.” David Axelrod, Obama big campaign whoop, argued that there is no way that the Republicans can deny Trump the nomination even if he lacks the exact number and comes close, saying it would “be ludicrous” to assume that someone who didn’t run could be nominated in Cleveland at the Republican Convention or that someone who lost to Trump throughout the primaries could be nominated ahead of him. Begala quipped that with half of the Republicans saying the party would be destroyed if Trump was the nominee and the other half saying that the party would be destroyed if Trump were denied the nomination, he planned essentially to sit back and simply enjoy watching the show.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is now inarguably and incontestably in the catbird seat. Super delegates are noncontroversial; her nomination is now inevitable. Sanders has the resources to keep going through June, but strategically it may be time for him – and us – to make the best deal for Sanders’ Nation with both the Clinton campaign and, potentially, the next Clinton Administration. Clinton needs Sanders’ young supporters and his disaffected blue collar base to win in November, and she needs to dramatically move out of the hip pocket of Wall Street, the elites, and the establishment to embrace with sincerity a real program to decrease inequality. She needs Sanders on side. Sanders shouldn’t want to be a spoiler, and Clinton should resist being vengeful. It’s Democratic détente time.

On the Republican side it’s hard to see a deal, because only Trump is a dealmaker. Cruz is a last-stand-at-the-Alamo guy. Anyone who will try to shut the whole government down doesn’t care if he’s splitting a Republican Party and an establishment that he disdains. Rubio is totally damaged goods at this point. I would bet that Trump is going to have to talk to his new buddy New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about whether they could make a deal with Ohio’s John Kasich to be vice-president, but if Kasich stays in, they can’t do that until Christie tries to help deliver Jersey and New York to secure his own place on the ticket. Cruz might have the stomach for a third party bid but Rubio doesn’t, and with people like New York’s former billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, saying he’s against a third party bid, then how would it be financed, and who would be willing and able to lead it? They’re stuck in the muck.

November is what matters now. It will be interesting to see who has the skills to pull all of these Humpty-Dumpty pieces together.