Is Hillary Positioning for 2012?

The Politico laid it out very clearly yesterday - and solidified what we've known for weeks - this race is over. Obama has the nomination.

Even Hillary Clinton's own campaign admits it! Politico reports, "One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives. In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe."

It's somewhat hilarious to watch the media eat up the campaign spin on the record, that she's got a great shot to win this and win the Presidency. Of course, the race gets a whole lot more boring with lower ratings when it's Obama vs. McCain, probably with a huge lull in the campaign, where - God forbid - the news media will actually have to go out and find and report news, and not just campaign talking points sent to them.

I've been trying to figure out for weeks why Hillary Clinton is still in this campaign because the math has been obvious for quite some time now. Even Mitt Romney had the - what would you call it, decency, wisdom, common sense - to drop out after he realized it was mathematically impossible (or next to impossible) for him to win.

There is one possibility as to why Senator Clinton might still be in this race, inflicting heavy damage on the presumptive Democratic nominee. That reason is Hillary 2012.

Now that's a heavy charge. I can't read her mind, so I don't know what her true intentions are. We can only judge based on her actions. Her staff understands and agrees that she has a very, very small chance of winning, but she is still willing to go after front-runner of her own party in the strongest possible words.

Look at what she has said about the man she privately believes will be the Democratic nominee for President:

He has not crossed the "Commander in Chief threshold" like John McCain has.

He cannot be trusted to answer the phone at 3am.

His only experience is a speech from 2002.

That he is disenfranchising voters in Michigan and Florida (even though she agreed to the same rules he did when those states stepped out of line in the primary process).

And, as Bill Clinton intimated yesterday, he doesn't love our country, like Hillary and McCain do.

Those are some serious blows against someone in your own party and might seriously hurt his chances of winning the general election. In fact, every day that Senator Clinton stays in the race is another day she spends money damaging Senator Obama. And every dollar she spends is a dollar in John McCain's pocket.

It almost makes you ask - does she want him to lose?

If Obama wins, then Senator Clinton couldn't run again until at least 2016 (unless something goes terribly wrong). At which point, she would be almost as old as John McCain is now. If she's ever going to become president, she has this narrow window.

On the other hand, if Senator Obama sustains serious political wounds going into the general election and winds up losing, then Hillary Clinton is sitting pretty in 2012.

In four years, John McCain will be 209 years old, and coming off a disastrous first term. We will still be in Iraq and the country will be dying for change. If you thought the voters wanted change now, imagine what the situation will be in 2012. Imagine how starved the electorate will be for a Democrat if McCain just spent four years replicating George W. Bush's policies - as he is adamantly promising to do on the campaign trail.

At that point, Senator Clinton would be able to swoop in and say, "See, you went with Obama last time and he lost, just like I told you. Now, nominate me, and I will take this White House back like we should have four years ago!"

Having narrowly lost to Obama in the primary, she would be in a great position to say "It's my turn! Let's get this right!"

Is she that cynical? Does she care that little about her own party or her own principles? Remember, a McCain win signs us up for more years in Iraq, a possible new war with Iran, an untold number of conservative judges on the Supreme Court, a probable overturn of Roe v. Wade, four more years of economic pain for the lower and middle class and ... no healthcare reform for another four years.

Is anyone that politically craven? To risk all that so they have a better chance of winning in 2012? I hope not. I hope she is just being delusional and thrashing about in misguided desperation as she continues to wound Obama going into the general election.

But if she is doing this on purpose - and she wants Obama to lose this time around so she has a better chance of winning in 2012 - she better make damn sure that news doesn't leak. Because that kind of political crime would be unforgivable. Unforgivable.