It's looking for all the world that Hillary Clinton's campaign is all but over. The fearsome Clinton political machine is about to get knocked out by a relative political neophyte. Who'd have thought that was possible. I know I didn't. So, what next? What's Hillary going to do now.
Option 1: Admit defeat. Quit graciously. Wholeheartedly support Obama for President in the national election. Become just another member of the Senate. Give up on any Presidential aspirations, or wait patiently until 2016 to run (providing Obama wins). I don't know about you, but I'm not seeing this one as too likely.
Option 2: The Doomsday option. Attack Obama with everything they have. Deploy the ninja dirt-diggers and unleash the sharp-tongued surrogate mouthpieces to spread the word on the cable news shows. This might work, it could secure the nomination for Hillary if she fires up the machine ASAP. The problem is the general election. This would turn off many of the independent voters that Obama has energized. And the black voters would completely abandon Hillary. 2008 would be a wash, and future runs would be out of the question.
Option 3: Just keep doing what you're doing. And lose anyway. I see this as the most likely option, as the once-vaunted Clinton political machine seems to have completely lost its mojo. The worst part is that they don't seem to realize what a crappy job they've been doing. They keep rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with the mistaken belief that the new deck chair arrangement will stop the sinking. It won't.
So, assuming that Hillary doesn't pull the trigger on the Doomsday Machine, what's she going to do after Obama wins the nomination? She has to support him; or at least appear to. If she doesn't, she'll turn off independents, hard-core liberals, and black voters. She'll never get the party's Presidential nomination down the road if that happens.
But if Obama wins the election, a 2012 run is pretty much off-limits for Hill. That means she has to wait until 2016, which means she'd be 69 years old on election day. It also means she has to wait eight whole years to be President. That's eight years of toiling away as one of 100 Senators. Eight years out of the limelight--let's face it, a President Obama will wind up sucking all the air out of the room. It also means eight more years for more scandals to surface. Or for Bill to put his foot in his mouth (again). Or to get busted in a cheesy sex scandal (again). I don't think Hillary would be too happy with that future. Nope, not one bit.
OK, so here's what I think will happen: Obama wins the nomination. Hillary and Bill are gracious--as gracious as they can be, anyway--in defeat. She endorses Obama, and campaigns for him. The campaigning focuses more on attacking McCain and the Republicans than it does on Obama's qualifications to be President.
Behind the scenes, the aforementioned ninja dirt-diggers hit the streets. They scoop up every piece of information they can find on Obama (and his wife, his church, etc) that the campaign would rather you not know. Then the info gets fed through surrogates to right-wing talk radio hosts and bloggers. Once it hits the news, Hillary can feign surprise and declare the information "troubling." Or she can feign outrage and rail against the "vast right-wing conspiracy" and the "Republican smear machine." Either way, it hurts Obama. And Hillary's fingerprints aren't on the weapon, or so she would hope.
If Obama loses the election, that leaves Hillary Clinton free to run in 2012. And without Barrack Obama to contend with.
Of course this is all conjecture on my part. I could be wrong. As in all things, time will tell. If all this does come to pass, remember you read it here first.