Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A No-Name Town Looks Like Waterloo

MILBANK, S.D. It is a measure of the peculiarity of this year's presidential race that the road to the Democratic nomination runs through Milbank.

Milbank is about 200 miles west of Minneapolis. In the Milbanksd.com website, I got this piece of information: Milbank is a town located in northeast South Dakota with a population of 3,640 and is located in Grant County which has a population of 7,847. I think in the three-square-block area in this part of Flushing there are more than 8,000 people. Heck, this building has 80 apartments, and, assuming 3 people per, that right there is 2,400 people. And then there are three large apartment building on just this block.

Until Monday, Milbank's greatest distinction was being the birthplace of American Legion baseball. But after Bill Clinton rolled into this small farm town in northeastern South Dakota, Milbank can now rightfully claim to be the place where Hillary Clinton's campaign surrendered.

Good going, Milbank.

"I want to say," he told about 500 Milbankians -- about 15 percent of the town's population -- "that this may be the last day that I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run, but it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president." the Post columnist quotes Bubba as saying.

Hillary decided? Aw, gimme a break: that was part of the master plan. These two are so dishonest.

"Last day"? Past tense? It was the first time either Clinton had allowed the pervasive pessimism to infiltrate a public utterance.

Not pessimistic; realistic. One thing the Clintons are, and that is realistic. Cold, calculating and cynically so, but they are realists.

That he was delivering his valedictory to Milbank -- or that he was talking to Milbank at all -- was a measure of the diminished circumstances of his wife's campaign. Since Barack Obama replaced Hillary Clinton as the Democratic front-runner, the former president has poured his heart into appearances in small towns across the country. As her chances grew slimmer, his towns grew smaller, to the point where Clinton found himself in Milbank, a place too small and too Republican (the county went 3 to 2 for President Bush over John Kerry in 2004) to be of much electoral use.

Curiouser and curiouser.

But as South Dakota and Montana put an end to the 50-state primary balloting on Tuesday, Bill Clinton has also been fighting to recover his own standing. His racially charged words and red-faced tirades -- most recently labeling a reporter a "scumbag" -- have contributed heavily to his wife's difficulties. Now, in his words and his marathon appearances, he seems to be making the case that it wasn't his fault.

Whatever it was, I didn't do it! Some people don't buy what Bubba's selling.

He has a lot of work to do to. "I've been disappointed," Merlin Smart, at the Clinton rally in Milbank, said of the former president's "too much" antics on the campaign trail. "It hasn't helped Hillary at all, and it brought him down to normal status rather than superstar status." Smart, a Milbank man, was wearing a Clinton sticker, but he confides, "I personally am going to vote for Obama."


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