Last night I listened to Hillary Clinton's speech, and I found it both unnerving and impossible to turn away from, in the way that it's hard to stop looking at a mudslide rumbling down a mountain towards an unsuspecting town. There she was, talking about how she was in it to win it, how she was more determined than ever, how she was ready to go head-to-head with John McCain, and I thought: can she possibly believe this? If not, why in God's name is she saying these things?
For some reason, what got me the most was hearing her ask for more money. She is, after all, an extremely wealthy woman. And she was asking those people she claims to be fighting for -- the nurse on her second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the coal miner, the trucker, the soldier, the vet, the college student -- to send her some fraction of the little money they have, for nothing. When she knows she can't win. That sort of took my breath away.
As I said before: this is not normal. People normally drop out when it becomes clear that they will not win. Sometimes they stay in in order to get their message out: they don't actually argue that people should vote for them, or ask for money, but they do go on giving speeches about whatever issue matters most to them. Occasionally, they stay in for the free publicity. But they do not do what Clinton is doing.
Last night, though, my main thought was: when someone finally drags her away from the race for the nomination, she'll leave teethmarks on it. They really will have to pry her candidacy from her cold, dead hands. She will go on doing this forever. She'll be like Harold Stassen, only all rolled up into one primary season.
And that made me think: if I were an undeclared superdelegate and I watched that speech, I would endorse Obama immediately. Because Hillary Clinton did not give the speech of someone who was about to go gently.
Of course, I'm not an undeclared superdelegate. But if I had to guess, I'd say that Clinton's speech last night probably helped a few people decide to come out for Obama now. Whether those people included either NARAL or John Edwards, of course, I have no idea.