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Should Conservatives Really Want to Run Against Obama?

Back in February, the de facto general of the conservative movement’s 2008 battle strategy, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, launched what he called Operation Chaos: his plan to make the Democratic slugfest between Obama and Hillary Clinton as long and as bloody as possible by getting conservatives to bolster Clinton wherever possible.

At the time, Barack Obama appeared to be growing into a threatening juggernaut. Not only was he raising staggering sums of cash, his post-racial campaign theme was striking a chord that’s near and dear to the American psyche. Here was the “black leader” whose example would repudiate Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, prove that America isn’t a racist country, and put the whole race issue in America’s rear view mirror once and for all.

But early this week, Limbaugh declared an “operational pause” in his combat plan. Limbaugh said it was because of damage that Jeremiah Wright’s jeremiads and the aftermath had done to Barack Obama’s campaign.

Indeed, the beautiful, harmonious dream that was the Obama campaign has been shattered into a thousand pieces.

We have Obama’s anti-white, anti-American spiritual mentor going on a rampage, his supporters are shouting “racism” at the top of their lungs, and threats that black Americans will sit home or even leave the Democratic Party if he isn’t given the nomination. Consider how many of the themes that Obama has run on that have been shattered by this turn of events. Obama claimed to be the post-racial candidate, but his campaign has devolved into an ugly racial scrum that has probably left a lot of white Americans wondering, with good reason, whether Obama is secretly hostile to them. Obama told Americans he could unify the country, but his candidacy and the Reverend Wright issue are tearing the Democratic Party apart. If he hasn’t even been able to bring his own party together yet, how can he possibly unite the country?

Then there’s Obama’s answer to the charges that he’s not qualified to be President. His reply is that his judgment is so sound that what he lacks in experience can be made up by his superior decision-making. Really? The guy who claims that he had no idea Jeremiah Wright was such a radical after spending 20 years sitting in the man’s church has great judgment? If he really had great judgment, he would have moved on to a new church 19 years, 11 months, and 3 weeks ago at best, or would have switched churches before he decided to run for the presidency at worst.

These hammer blows have had great effect on Obama’s campaign and must be giving the super delegates who will decide the race a major case of heartburn because, pretty clearly, it is now Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama who would be the stronger candidate against John McCain in November.

When you look at the demographic groups both candidates are capturing, you’ll find that Barack is dominating amongst black Americans, highly educated white, liberal Americans, and young voters. The first two groups will go heavily for the Democrats in November no matter who the nominee is, and young voters are notoriously unreliable on Election Day.

On the other hand, Hillary has run stronger than Obama in most of the swing states and is winning over older white voters, Hispanics, and female voters, all of which are demographic groups that the Democrats desperately need to do well with in order to win in November.

Furthermore, the conventional wisdom –which is that Obama’s voters will defect to McCain or sit home in November if their man loses– has been contradicted in poll after poll. It is Hillary’s voters, not Barack’s voters, who are considerably more likely to become reluctant McCain backers or alternately sleep in on election day if Hillary loses the election.

If Hillary manages to claw her way back from oblivion to capture the Democratic nomination, that act in and of itself will significantly strengthen her candidacy.

After all, Hillary doesn’t have much more experience than Barack, doesn’t have great national security credentials, and is perceived, correctly, with having accomplished almost nothing in her adult life without her husband carrying much of the load. But if she has the tenacity to overcome Barack Obama in a race where the mainstream media and many of the elites in her own party have aligned against her, many Americans would give her a certain amount of much needed credit for toughness, grit, and for showing grace under fire. Even most Clinton-loathing conservatives would be willing to admit at this point that if it came right down to it, they’d rather have her handling national security issues and phone calls at 3 AM than Barack Obama.

These facts have not been lost on Democrats, who in a recent Fox News poll, said Hillary would be a tougher opponent for McCain than Obama by a 48% to 38% margin. Additionally, the latest polls from Gallup, Rasmussen Tracking, and FOX News all show that Democrats now prefer Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama as a candidate.

At this point, Obama still appears to be the favorite to win the nomination, but as it becomes clearer and clearer that Hillary is the more electable of the two candidates. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the superdelegates start to flock towards Clinton.

What it may eventually come down to is whether the superdelegates are willing to suffer personal attacks to select the candidate with the better chance to win in November or whether they’d rather make the netroots and black Democrats happy while simultaneously significantly increasing the chances that John McCain will end up in the White House. That’s why conservatives should root for Obama to put Hillary away once and for all. It wouldn’t guarantee us victory in November, but clearly Obama vs. McCain is the best match-up for us.

Time will tell if the Democratic superdelegates are going to play along.

John Hawkins is a professional blogger who runs Conservative Grapevine and Right Wing News. He also writes a weekly column for Townhall.