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The Inevitable Turmoil In Hillaryland...

Time's Karen Tumulty has some great reporting about the turmoil within the Clinton campaign:

The scope of Barack Obama's victory in Iowa has shaken the Clinton machine down to its bolts. Donors are panicking. The campaign has been making a round of calls to reassure notoriously fickle "superdelegates" — elected officials and party regulars who are awarded convention spots by virtue of their titles and positions — who might be reconsidering their decisions to back the candidate who formerly looked like a sure winner. And internally, a round of recriminations is being aimed at her chief strategist, Mark Penn, as the representative of everything about her pseudo-incumbent campaign that has been too cautious, too arrogant, too conventional and too clueless as to how much the political landscape has shifted since the last Clinton reign.

Strong stuff. But, if anything, Tumulty may understate the situation in Hillaryland. She writes, for example, that:

If Clinton also loses New Hampshire to Obama, Penn's future with the campaign may well be in jeopardy, strategists say. But that may be wishful thinking on their part. For one thing, there is no obvious candidate to replace him. Hillary's advisers and Bill's have never gotten along — and she has been particularly suspicious of his team. "Who they both trust — that's a very small group," says one former Clinton aide. "She is going to be very, very resistant to all of the white boys coming back."

That sounds about right. On the other hand, I'd quibble with the implication that there will even be a Clinton campaign if she loses New Hampshire. (I don't mean she'll drop out. Just that she'll be finished--without any plausible path to the nomination.) Penn may not lose his job if New Hampshire doesn't pan out, but the odds of it mattering either way will be vanishingly small.

Update: Mike Allen and Ben Smith have a similar--and similarly well reported--piece up over at The Politico, with a couple of additional nuggets. Among other things, Allen and Smith report that the Clintonites now expect to lose South Carolina, and, while they maintain they have New Hampshire "correctly modeled" (not sure how I'd feel about that after Iowa if I were Hillary), the mood they describe is one of resignation.

As in Tumulty's piece, the Clintonites suggest they can make their stand on February 5, which just seems crazy to me:

Clinton officials have urged reporters to think ahead to Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, when she expects to do well in New York, California, New Jersey and Arkansas. 

If someone can explain how Hillary will be viable on Feb. 5 if she loses Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, I'm happy to post their thoughts. But I just don't see it. (Like Tumulty, Allen and Smith report that the Clintonites think a shake-up could buy them some credibility with donors and the press, but there's still the problem of, you know, voters.)

--Noam Scheiber