So Obama killed Hillary in Carolina, and she narrowly defeated him (in what might as well have been a loss) in Indiana.
And yet she keeps going.
For both parties, this primary season has been, without question, the most exciting and unpredictable political spectacle in living memory.
In this corner, we have the Republican candidate whose campaign was dead and who is loathed by a large portion of his party's base but who has triumphed over adversity to become the presumptive nominee.
In the opposite corner, we have the candidate of the Clinton Restoration, adored by all liberals and a not-insignificant number of moderates as the symbol of America's glory days being defeated by an inexperienced, but golden-tongued, newcomer.
Yet on both sides, the game is still slightly afoot. The well-funded and well-organized supporters of Ron Paul have scoured the rulebooks of the various state parties to find ways of hijacking their delegates via procedural votes; Hillary still has a plausible path to the nomination via subtle maneuvers in back-room rules committee meetings regarding Michigan and Florida whose delegates and popular votes would put her ahead of Mr. Obama. This is the year of "never give up."
But by far the most astounding aspect is one which I, and many conservatives, would never have thought possible.
It's not the impending electoral collapse of the Republican party. That has been forseeable at least since 2006 when the utter moral bankruptcy of the party leadership was laid bare for all to see.
One expects politicians to be politicians, to an extent; but Republicans expect their leaders to have at least some core beliefs, and ours clearly don't. When Republican leadership covers for a Congressman who enjoys underage homosexuality, either aspect of which causes core Republican voters to rush for the restroom; when a Republican Congress authorizes spending boondoggles that would make Boss Tweed blush with shame; when 80% of the electorate demands an end to illegal immigration, and it still takes 8 years to build barely 10 miles of chain-link fence, there can be no doubt that a richly-deserved electoral reckoning is nigh at hand. And when the surviving Republicans seem to have utterly failed to learn the lessons of 2006, they might as well bend over and say, "Please, sir, may I have another?"
It's not the nomination of John McCain. The Republican brand has taken such a total bath in the last few years that the only plausible candidate would be Ronald Reagan reincarnated or someone who is recognized far and wide as not really a Republican at all. Failing the former, we have the latter.
It's not even the defenestration of the Democratic party. The Democrats suffer from an inherent structural contradiction: how can your primary source of party energy be purist identity grievance politics, when a working majority must have more than one identity-group on board? It's not possible to pander to the demands of the unions, and the trial lawyers, and the race-baiters, and the feminists, all at the same time and to the same degree.
While the current situation in which Democratic voters have to decide whether they'd prefer to be racist or sexist is a source of endless amusement, it was inevitable sooner or later; it just seems surprising that it's this year.
No, the one thing that none of our wildest dreams could have forseen, is finding ourselves having respect and sympathy for none other than the Ice Princess, the Wicked Witch of the West, Her Royal Highness, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Say what you will, the sheer determination, discipline, fortitude, and grit that she has demonstrated is awe-inspiring. Honestly, how many presidents have fought through so many reverses with the force of will that she's maintained?
Never one moment of public doubt! Never does the mask slip; never does she appear discouraged in any serious way; never is there one moment of question as to her purpose in life.
It's contagious: you can see it on TV as her live audiences absorb, for one fleeting moment, the overwhelming impression that a President is before them. A skilled orator can make people weep or faint with emotion and Barack Obama is as skilled as they come. Hillary can accomplish something far more difficult; she can convince her audience, truly make them believe, that black is white, that up is down, and that she not only can but will win. By comparison, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, was a wimp.
What an awe-inspiring talent is about to go to waste! In a larger sense, it's been wasted for forty years, ever since the young Hillary Rodham turned her back on Barry Goldwater's message of limited government, and fell in - love? partnership? lust for power? - with a charismatic young Arkansan from Hope.
One almost envisions an alternative history in which, instead, Miss Rodham encountered and fell for a younger radio broadcaster from Missouri. Imagine what might have been accomplished by a Hillary Rodham Limbaugh who stayed true to her early political beliefs!
But it didn't happen that way. Now we are left with the sight of the strongest force of political will since Nixon (if not Churchill) coming within tasting distance of her life's goal, never...to...quite...reach...it... The mountains move; the earth shakes; the planets are realigned by sheer mental force, and still - not quite. So near and yet so far!
In the face of such majestic, doomed determination, what is there to say?