Ross explains the cost to progressive politics of Hillary Clinton's decision to unleash the kitchen sink in a likely-futile effort to overcome Barack Obama's delegate lead:
Rather, the problem is that the party is losing a golden opportunity to try to put the race away early, the way Bill Clinton more or less did with Bob Dole in 1996 - by using their enormous fundraising advantage to rebrand John McCain as a Dole-style loser while he's still struggling to get his money-raising operation up to par. As Patrick Ruffini suggested earlier this week, if Obama had finished off Hillary last night he could have been up with anti-McCain ads all over the country immediately, forcing the GOP to play defense in places it usually owns all through the summer. Whereas the longer the race goes on, the less leverage the Dems' fundraising edge gives them, and the lower the chances that they can make it get late early for McCain through sheer dollar-power alone.
That's bad because it increases the chance of losing in November, it decreases the likelihood of an impressive-looking mandate, and most of all because its bad for down-ballot races. Yes, the very same down ballot races Democrats need to win if people actually want health care reform (as we learned in 1994, merely having a president who proposes health care reform doesn't do anyone any good), global warming legislation, etc. to happen.
UPDATE: Note in this context that the NAFTA memo thing was a bum rap cooked up by Canadian rightwingers (who are very networked with U.S. rightwingers) to deliberately hurt Barack Obama's campaign and produce the sort of long, hard slog we're now looking at.