If we were playing football, I’d hit a grand slam

It’s been a while since I ranted about politics, this, from Elenanor Clift, doing a post-mortem on the Clinton campaign:

She did run an extraordinarily close race, and if the Democrats had the same winner-take-all rules as the Republicans, she’d be the nominee. If Obama hadn’t outorganized her in small caucus states like Idaho, which the Democrats have no hope of winning in November, he wouldn’t be the nominee.

This may all be true, but it’s first unknowable and second condescending and manages to miss the point at once.

They both attempted to win the nomination under the rules set at the start (mostly, since Clinton later attempted to change them when it favored her). It’s like watching a baseball game and then saying “if the winner was determined by stolen bases, the Brewers would have won.”

Well, sure, had nothing else about the game changed. But if the winner was determined by stolen bases, both teams would have spent a ton of money on speedy baserunners instead of good fielders, they would have fielded only left-handed pitchers who could deter the runner on first, and they’d have devoted their farm systems to producing cannon-armed catchers who could throw out anyone.

Obama and his campaign showed an absolutely amazing ability to organize without the support of existing party structures, they raised astonishing amounts of money, and they worked the rules to their maximum advantage, and they won and won and won.

Who’s to say that if the rules were different, and both teams played on a different field, under different rules, that they couldn’t have won then as well?

The best we can say is that Obama won the contest at hand, and the rest is unknowable. And it’s okay to leave it at that.