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What Hillary Was Going For

Two quick, semi-related thoughts:

1.) On the "white Americans" comment, I 80-percent agree with Mike. Hillary was saying something we've all been preoccupied with for months now. It gets more attention when she says it, but you can't pretend it's never come up in polite company. The problem is the implication that non-white Americans aren't hard-working, which, if you're thinking conspiratorially (and who isn't these days), sounds like ugly code.

Whatever the case, the comments were obviously targeted at voters in West Virginia and Kentucky. Now that Obama is almost certain to be the nominee--something the media has blared ceaselessly since Tuesday night--it's possible that working class whites would bow to reality and either vote for him or stay home. Hillary's riff is designed to prevent that.

2.) Why is Hillary so concerned about West Virginia and Kentucky if she can't win the nomination? One reason is to gain leverage for negotiating the terms of her exit with Obama. Another, which Dick Morris wrote about yesterday, is to raise doubts about Obama that will hurt him in the general, making it possible for her to run again in 2012.

Jason sees evidence for Morris's theory in the "white American" comments. I'm not so sure. The Clinton's have already stirred up a lot of ill-will among Democrats. Looking like they're trying to torpedo Obama in the general would massively increase it, and probably make it impossible for her to run again. Or, put differently, if Clinton has any hope of running in 2012, she can't afford much blame for a potential Obama defeat.

My guess is that the leverage theory explains what's going on. Hillary just overreached.

--Noam Scheiber