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Mother Nature's in Charge; Dems Latest

Behind The News
May 12, 2008 1:42:48 PM PDT
Lest anyone think we are really in charge here, Mother Nature proving once again today that we can control only a few things in this life. Everything else, in the end, is up for grabs. Which is not to say we all are or should be granted get-out-of-jail cards for bad behavior; it's just to officially note that life is fragile and, aside from some rudimentary decisions (what to have for lunch, what tie to wear tonight, should I try to pass this guy?), the big-picture stuff is beyond our control.

Last week it was Myanmar, with tens of thousands killed and a totalitarian government so caught up in keeping power that it refuses to let the world truly help out. This past weekend it was dozens of killer tornadoes through the South; some of them were more than a mile wide, and spun for more than 60 miles. And today it's a huge earthquake in China, with initial estimates of the number killed reaching about 13,000 -- but it's likely to rise.

Such staggering numbers, they're nearly incomprehensible.

The situation in China -- which includes hundreds of students buried after the earthquake -- is being felt in our area, what with a sizeable Chinese population here. We'll have the latest on the relief efforts, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, in a region where there's not usually much reason to celebrate, they are getting ready to mark, and celebrate, the 60th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel. Our N.J. Burkett is there for us this week.

And we'll have the latest on the Presidential race. There's a new "thank you" message from Hillary Clinton on her website. It's fascinating to watch because it seems like a different Sen. Clinton. She seems rather resigned, un-energetic, lackluster. I'm no psychologist, and maybe I'm reading too much into it, but others who have seen it have said the same thing.

The numbers, we know, don't add up for the Senator from New York, and the talk now is about an "exit strategy." (There's an ominous free-market sign of the times at the airports in Washington -- a 50 percent clearance sale of t-shirts and other souvenirs with Hillary Clinton for President on them.)

Those who support Mrs. Clinton -- and there is little doubt that she has tapped into the hopes and aspirations of many who want to see women make great strides -- say she should not be forced to drop out before she's ready; there are more primaries that she could win, and why leave before she scores a victory in those elections? Certainly, she's all but certain to win tomorrow's primary in West Virginia; polls have her ahead by more than 40 points.

But there's also the question of what her prolonged campaigning is doing to her Democratic Party and to Barack Obama, who, it now seems, will be battling John McCain for the White House come November.

Does Clinton's victory in any primary help her Party's eventual nominee, when her victory means an Obama defeat in that state? Does it help Obama to spend more money campaigning against Clinton when that money could be better used in the general election? And what good does it do for Clinton to continue to go into debt to finance her (all but doomed) campaign? These are questions many experts are asking tonight. But, hey, we're talking about Democrats here, and this does often seem like a party that easily snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

Consider this: The polls show McCain has closed the gap with either Clinton or Obama -- not totally, but substantially. All the while, the party he represents has a President who now scores just a 31 percent approval rate, according to a new ABC News poll out tonight. In addition, the poll shows that 82 percent of Americans -- more than four out of five! -- say the country's seriously off on the wrong track. That's up 10 points in the past year, and a new record high -- or low, depending on how you view it.

Which brings us back to the Clinton conundrum. How does she leave gracefully, with dignity, and with a payoff. Negotiating her exit is on the front burner -- although the public's not likely to see any of this. Will there be a Vice Presidential offer made by Obama? Hard to imagine, but it's possible. Will he agree to pay off her campaign debt, which includes more than $11 million in personal loans? Will she "demand" a future role in his administration?

We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

And before you decide to trade in your gas guzzler for a nice new hybrid, make sure you watch Kemberly Richardson's story tonight. She does the math for us -- and what she finds might surprise you about the economics of hybrid cars.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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