24 April 2008

Winning & Losing

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

When Vince Lombardi said “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, he clearly had not had occasion to focus on the Democratic Party’s primary process. Or maybe the process was different several decades ago; now that would be an occasion to yearn for the good ol’ days.

The 2008 Pennsylvania presidential primary has popped – and possibly phizzled (to carry the alliteration two steps too phar). Despite crowing over her victory on Tuesday, Senator Hillary Clinton’s win probably needs quotations marks around it: it is a “victory” on the most relative of scales, since Senator Barack Obama secured more than 40% of the delegates available, again adding to his overall lead in the race for the nomination.

Indeed, saying that Clinton “won” should imply an altogether different outcome, one in which it is equally apparent that Obama “lost.” Back to sports: in what game does the loser walk away with more than 40% of the available winnings, get called a loser – and get to continue playing? Poker, perhaps. Otherwise, none that I can think of. Most games played with a competition-ending series, like baseball, count losers as losers and winners as winners: lose 4 games, even by no more than one point per game, and you’re still out.

Not for the Democrats. One could argue that this is a classic case of American-liberal waffling, an inbred discomfort with competition, the kind that makes Democrats bad at things like wars and better at things like entitlement-program coddling. One could also argue that this shows the value of the Republican Party’s “winner take all” system, where winners are winners and losers go back under the rocks from whence they’d earlier emerged.

That might all be true. In the case of Clinton v. Obama 2008, this unending, miserable, painful competition is as much about Senator Clinton’s desperation-encased ego as anything else. She needs to win – in the actual sense of the word – in order to validate the years of personal and professional losses she suffered before, during, and after her husband’s presidency. (Her $109 million fortune apparently won’t scratch that itch satisfactorily.)

Well, think of it this way: what could be more Clintonian than trying to redefine loss as a victory? I suppose, as with “is,” it simply depends on how one defines the words. That right there might be the best rationale against electing the Senator from New York to higher office.


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