Barack Obama, once the fresh-faced symbol of a new kind of politics, emerged from the Pennsylvania primary “stale, battered, and embittered,” Joe Klein writes in a stunningly dour piece on the state of the Democratic race in Time. Dragged into a morass of character attacks, some of it “scurrilous trash,” Obama withered. “There is an immutable pedestrian reality to American politics,” Klein writes. “You have to get the social body language right.”
Voters choose politicians based on “stupid things, like whether you know how to roll a bowling ball, throw back whiskey or wear an American-flag pin.” Obama’s campaign aimed to rise above, but that audacious goal died in Pennsylvania. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, embraced the “shameless rituals of politics,” and was energized as never before. The nomination is his to lose, Klein writes, but he won't win the presidency unless he shakes off his distaste for the sordid realities of the race.