A lot's getting said tonight. And a lot of it is baseless speculation. But the one thing that rings true to me is this: The Clinton campaign got rough and nasty over the last week-plus. And they got results. That may disgust you or it may inspire you with confidence in Hillary's abilities as a fighter. But wherever you come down on that question is secondary to the fact that that's how campaign's work. Opponents get nasty. And what we've seen over the last week is nothing compared to what Barack Obama would face this fall if he hangs on and wins the nomination.
So I think the big question is, can he fight back? Can he take this back to Hillary Clinton, demonstrate his ability to take punches and punch back? By this I don't mean that he's got to go ballistic on her or go after Bill's business deals or whatever else her vulnerabilities might be. Candidates fight in different ways and if they're good candidates in ways that play to their strengths and cohere with their broader message. But he's got to show he can take this back to Hillary and not get bloodied and battered when an opponent decides to lower the boom. That will obviously determine in a direct sense how he fares in the coming primaries and caucuses. And Obama's people are dead right when they say, he doesn't even have to do that well from here on out to end this with a substantial pledged delegate margin.
EDIT: While I am at it, i'll throw in some Kevin Drum for good measure. In short he says don't worry about this extended fight breaking up the party. Look at 1968:
Consider. The Democratic incumbent president was forced to withdraw after a primary debacle in New Hampshire. The Vietnam War had split liberals into warring factions and urban riots had shattered the LBJ's Great Society legacy. A frenzied primary season reached all the way to California in June, culminating in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. The Democratic Convention in Chicago was a nationally televised battle zone. Hubert Humphrey, the party's eventual nominee, had never won a primary and was loathed by a significant chunk of the liberal community. New Left radicals hated mainstream Democrats more than they hated Republicans.And what happened? Nixon won, but by less than 1%. If dirty primaries translate into general election losses, Humphrey should have lost by more than a landslide.