The finale: when, and how?

It would be better for all concerned if HRC dropped out two weeks from now or a month from now, having waged a graceful and constructive rearguard action, than if she were forced out now. But is the campaign capable of such self-restraint?

I’ve wanted the primary season to be over for a long time. But Marc Ambinder is right: how is more important than when. If Hillary Clinton were to go back to waging a positive campaign (which, in Democratic terms, includes full-throated criticism of McCain) and leash her attack dogs so they stop talking about how white people won’t vote for Obama, having her concede after Obama’s big win in Oregon on May 20th or even after his likely wins in Montana and South Dakota June 2nd would be even better than having her concede now. Among other things, now that the Clinton camp has planted the notion that enforcing the DNC’s rules is “disenfranchising” the voters of Michigan and Florida, those delegations have to be seated in some form, and it’s better for a deal to be reached before the race is formally over.

It’s easy to see that running a clean, positive campaign from here on out &#8212 losing gracefully &#8212 would be in Senator Clinton’s interests, and those of her staff and her husband. But is it in their character? So far, the evidence isn’t encouraging. They seem more interested in creating talking points for Rush Limbaugh. Of course, Limbaugh sounds natural saying “working class” when he means “white working class.” But what does a Democratic operative think he’s doing when he uses that language?

Update It gets worse. Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic catches this doozy from Thursday’s USAT.

Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Wednesday to continue her quest for the Democratic nomination, arguing she would be the stronger nominee because she appeals to a wider coalition of voters — including whites who have not supported Barack Obama in recent contests.

“I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on,” she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article “that found how Sen. Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

“There’s a pattern emerging here,” she said.

Why, yes. There is a pattern emerging: a pattern of the Clinton campaign appealing more and more blatantly to racial prejudice. “Hard-working Americans, white Americans”?! No one who’s black works hard?

Either HRC has completely lost her moral and political senses, or she’s just so tired she’s not capable of saying what she means. In either case, it’s time to get the hook.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: