Why is it she can’t close the deal?

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Rick Horowitz
May 8, 2008

If you’re anything like everyone else, you’ve been watching the Democrats’ battle for their presidential nomination with equal parts fascination and revulsion. Month after month, two historic candidates have been going at it with all the skill and determination they can muster, criss-crossing the country (and beating each other bloody) in search of that decisive victory, that insurmountable lead, while the Republicans keep their powder dry and their TiVos whirring.

So if you’re anything like everyone else, there’s been only one question bouncing around your brain lately:

“Why can’t she close the deal?”

Why can’t Hillary Clinton put Barack Obama away once and for all?

Admit it: That’s exactly what you’ve been wondering, and you’ve been wondering it ever since this campaign began, eight or nine centuries ago. (Or does it only feel like eight or nine centuries ago?)

In this corner, you’ve got one of the most famous brand-names in modern American politics, with a political organization and fund-raising network second to none. You’ve got 16 years in the public eye—eight years as first lady, watching and learning right there in the center of it all, at the White House itself, then more than a full term in the Capitol as a U.S. senator from the great state of New York.

And in the other corner, somebody nobody ever heard of, with a name that makes people nervous.

So why hasn’t she closed the deal?

Hillary Clinton led all the polls right from the start, didn’t she? She had the endorsements. She had the celebrity. She had the inevitability. She had Bill.

So why couldn’t she close the deal?

Then the voting started, and the other contenders began to fall by the wayside—the Joe Bidens and the Chris Dodds, with their committee chairmanships and their decades of service—until she could even claim to be the one Democrat still standing with the most experience.

And she still couldn’t close the deal.

Then John Edwards dropped out, and she had a clear shot at Edwards’ supporters, too—more than enough to put her firmly on the path to victory.

And she still couldn’t close the deal. In fact, Obama was moving past her in the polls and in the hunt for delegates. But that was only temporary, right? Surely she’d bring him back to earth any day now, take her rightful place—first place—and end this thing.

But it didn’t happen. Not even when Obama started to stumble, when he said things he had to explain away. Not even when his pastor said things he had to explain away, things he was slow to explain away.

She had him on the ropes now, woozy and listless. If ever she had him set up for the knockout punch, this was the time.

And she couldn’t do it. She still couldn’t close the deal.

So you have to ask yourself: Why not? What is it about her, or about her campaign, that makes her so weak, so ineffective at all the crucial moments? What’s kept her, primary after primary, from winning over certain key blocs of Democratic voters?

And what about the superdelegates? They’re the ones who know her best—why are they holding back? Are they afraid of an “October surprise”? Another shady contributor? Another perky intern?

If she can’t close the deal against Barack Obama, how would she ever close the deal against John McCain?

I’ll bet you’ve been wondering the very same thing.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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