in Analyses, US elections, Voorpagina

The donkey is biting the hand that feeds it

The number of Democratic politicians that is lining up to endorse Barack Obama — and not Hillary Clinton — is impressive. Despite Clinton’s surprise win in New Hampshire, which must have caused a blow to confidence in Camp Obama, some pretty high-ranking Democrats are leaning to endorse Obama. John Kerry was the latest high-profile Democrat to throw his support (and sponsors!) to Obama. So what’s going on? Why is Hillary, a prominent Democratic Senator and wife of the man who is seen as the virtual leader of the Democratic Party, suddenly the least popular gal on prom night?

Well, quite simply because the Democratic fat cats seem to have had it with the Clintons. There were signs before, most notably in 2004. Bill never kept his trap shut when he had the opportunity to criticise fellow Democrats, and he has never been able to suppress the urge to try to control or influence the Democratic Party whenever he could.

The Clintons and their surrogates have effectively been dealing the cards within the Democratic Party since 1992. That’s 16 years. Sixteen long years of one couple essentially calling the shots, being the powerbrokers, trumping all the other factions that each political party has. Sixteen years of always having to watch your back as a Democrat to make sure that the Clintons weren’t conniving, sixteen years of having to get down on the knees and kiss some feet to receive The Blessing.

Like the conspirators that made up the Roman Senate of yore, Democratic fat cats waited. When asked to jump, they did, and kept quiet for 16 years as getting the Clinton Machine to back you was a guarantee to extend your political career.

But the senators knew that they never needed to share their opinions with each other. Just a knowing look and perhaps a short, muddled whisper in the Turkish baths was enough to know when the right moment came to jump at the Emperor, and cut him down with small yet deadly knives that had been hidden in their thick clothes for so many years.

(Former) Senators, ditto House Representatives, (former) Governors, you name it — they can’t wait to give the Clintonistas at the top the boot.

Right now, Barack Obama needs all the endorsements and party support he can get and the fat cats know it. At the same time, they know that Obama could very well be their personal mop that will clean the Democratic Party of the Clintonistas. Of course, the fat cats are also hoping that betting on the right horse will also gain them more powerful positions within the party.

So deals are inevitably being made. Sometimes, all that is needed is a knowing look, and sometimes a short, muddled whisper in a private backroom will do, or perhaps just an email to the right BlackBerry.

Tectonic plates are shifting within the Democratic Party and the Clintons must by now realise that they’re not just fighting the enemy at the gate, but also the not-so-new enemies that are now coming out of the kitchen cupboards. If they want to hold on to their power over the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton will have to win a lot more states in the primary process, and win them by large margins to succesfully re-establish herself as the one, all-powerful shining sun in the Democratic universe.

The problem is: will she be able to pull that off without big endorsements…?