That’s how campaigns work

Spent quite the sleepless night last night, first following the primary results back and forth between MSNBC and the Web,1 then lying in bed sleepless and sick over the results. Then out of bed at the computer checking further returns (hoping that Sandusky and Cuyahoga, where the polls stayed open later, would break bigger for Obama when those later returns came in) and analysis. Then more lying in bed sleepless. Then surfing specifically non-political Internet trying to get my mind off things.

I had figured Clinton would win Ohio, having heard day before yesterday that Obama was pulling out to finish campaigning in Texas. He had pretty good pollsters, turns out. But I sure was hoping he’d win Texas.

Feel positively hung over this morning. Can’t change what happened, though. Only thing is going forward. Main thing I’ve come up with is that while Clinton has gone very negative, she hasn’t yet received anything in the way of negative campaigning.

And here’s what Josh had to say as his final thoughts, at 2:21 a.m.:

A lot’s getting said tonight. And a lot of it is baseless speculation. But the one thing that rings true to me is this: The Clinton campaign got rough and nasty over the last week-plus. And they got results. That may disgust you or it may inspire you with confidence in Hillary’s abilities as a fighter. But wherever you come down on that question is secondary to the fact that that’s how campaign’s work. Opponents get nasty. And what we’ve seen over the last week is nothing compared to what Barack Obama would face this fall if he hangs on and wins the nomination.

So I think the big question is, can he fight back? Can he take this back to Hillary Clinton, demonstrate his ability to take punches and punch back? By this I don’t mean that he’s got to go ballistic on her or go after Bill’s business deals or whatever else her vulnerabilities might be. Candidates fight in different ways and if they’re good candidates in ways that play to their strengths and cohere with their broader message. But he’s got to show he can take this back to Hillary and not get bloodied and battered when an opponent decides to lower the boom.

I’m not sure how the man with the hope and the pretty speeches (who totally makes me cry sometimes; doesn’t he make you cry sometimes?) can remain the man with the hope and the pretty speeches while hitting back and bloodying She Who Is Was Inevitable. But he’s got to do it. And if he can do that, hit back and bloody and still remain Man/Hope/Pretty Speeches, then I can’t see any stopping him on his way through Denver in August and then on to November.2 If he can’t, then he wouldn’t have had a chance in November anyway.

So this is his chance. We know hope. Now we need tough hope.

1 A necessary component of this is the headphone extension cord that I recently bought. So now I can watch TV after Dawn goes to bed.

2 But then again I’m an utterly hopeless political prognosticator, going all the way back to 1980, when I was certain that Reagan would pick Phil Crane to be his running mate. I’ve always been this total dork that you see before you.