Though the contest was less trumpeted than South Carolina's primary next Saturday, Hillary Clinton's victory in Nevada yesterday virtually secured her the Democratic nomination for President. Not only does Barack Obama now have to score a resounding victory in South Carolina to stay alive, come Tsunami Tuesday on February 5th he has to upset Hillary either in the Clinton-stronghold of California or on her home turf in New York - a distinct unlikelihood given the extent to which Hillary has out-campaigned him in both states.
The Optimist sees only one final move for Barack before the sun sets on his exhilarating effort. Obama's last chance is to offer John Edwards whatever he wants - even the Vice Presidency - to immediately withdraw from the race and throw his unequivocal support behind Obama's candidacy. It is only through combining their coalitions that Obama has a chance to loosen Hillary's grip on the nomination. And even then, it will be an uphill battle.
Edwards would be wise to take such a deal, though he is unlikely to do so. He has obstinately vowed to stay in the race until the convention, despite faring increasingly worse in each successive state he has competed. South Carolina will be the final nail in his coffin.
If Edwards is truly serious about enacting his critical anti-corporate, populist agenda, he must get into a position of substantive power in the Cabinet. He must not squander the last leverage he possesses to do so by sticking it out through Tsunami Tuesday, just for the sake of pride. If he does so, he will end Obama's campaign on the same day he ends his own.
And then, all the sound and fury will have signified nothing, and Clinton and McCain will square off in November just as everyone predicted they would in 2006.