I know how Hillary Clinton must feel. A few years back, I sat half naked on the examining table as my doctor pored over my charts. "Anything wrong?" I finally asked after a couple minutes of uncomfortable silence. "No," he replied, "I'm just trying to figure out what's going to kill you."
Sen. Clinton is still alive, but much of the blogosphere, convinced that the end of her presidential run is near, is busy conducting what can only be called the premortem.
"Right here, right now, it looks like this race is over," John Cole concludes at Ballon Juice, citing Sen. Barack Obama's "blowout" Feb. 19 victory in Wisconsin. "Hillary Clinton as a possible President is over," writes Matt Stoller at OpenLeft.
Analyzing Obama's 10 consecutive easy victories, Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos declares that "the rejection of Hillary Clinton has been absolute.... Clinton's campaign is now effectively dead." On the other side of the political spectrum, Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner, watches the Feb. 21 debate and sees closure: "I think we just saw one of Hillary Clinton's final campaign moments...." [ ]
In Wisconsin, Clinton "lost a state whose demographics should have favored her -- and which look very familiar to those of Ohio," conservative Ed Morissey writes at Captain's Quarters. Obama "is making huge inroads into Clinton's base of support among women and high school educated, lower income voters. If this keeps up, Texas and Ohio are going to be cakewalks and this is going to be over on March 4th," agrees digby at Hullabaloo.
Worse still, Clinton's efforts to grab a handhold to break her fall are earning her mostly disdain in the blogosphere.
Her charge that Obama was guilty of plagiarism for using borrowed lines from his campaign co-chair, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, in his stump speeches ("Change you can Xerox," Clinton called them) is being booed as loudly online as it was at the debate in Austin.
"Bogus and overstated," James Fallows writes at TheAtlantic. "Unless a candidate is a total robot, giving the very same speech time after time, he or she is inevitably grabbing whatever idea, illustration, or phrase is at hand," notes Fallows, a former White House speechwriter himself. "Not to do this is to suggest that a presidential candidate is not quite ready for the job."
To underline the point, it took bloggers only minutes to discover the core of Hillary Clinton's closing statement at the Austin debate include a generous helping of leftovers from Bill Clinton's 1992 stump speech. "There's nothing in the least wrong with this," writes Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, one of the discoverers. "And it's a great line. But I think it shows the silliness of the 'plagiarism' charges based on a few borrowed lines."
Clinton's attempts to portray herself as victim of unfair attacks over her position on NAFTA is similarly falling flat. (If I understand her position, she was for NAFTA -- but not really-- before she was against it.) "Utterly silly and insulting," David Sirota writes at Huffington Post, citing her numerous public statements in favor of the trade pact. "She's not running against Obama anymore -- she's essentially running against Bill," Janes Hamsher fumes at firedoglake. "I mean, I really don't know how you utter the 'It took a Clinton to clean up after a Bush' line in one breath, and then in the next admit that he fucked up the job."
As Clinton flails, even bloggers well disposed to her can't see any way for her to break her fall. Her "kitchen-sink strategy" of attacks against Obama--" inexperience, healthcare policy, Rezko, teenaged drug use, Exelon, "illegal" robo-calls, 'present' votes, and tax increases, among other things" -- "isn't exactly moving the needle in Clinton's direction," Steve Benen writes.
The "pleasant equilibrium" on display through most of the Austin debate "is losing the race for her right now," writes digby. "The reasons she didn't go for the jugular is that she knows it doesn't work for her and, contrary to popular myth, she won't do or say anything to win."
"There was really nothing she could do," agrees Hedrick Hertzberg at his New Yorker blog in post titled "He's Rubber, She's Glue." "'Going negative' has been a bust.... Her supporters (almost all of them) like him; his supporters (most of them) like her.... Barack Obama is a phenomenon that comes along once in a lifetime. Unfortunately for Hillary, it's her lifetime; fortunately for the rest of us, it's ours."
Unless, of course, Ohio and Texas say otherwise.