Tuesday, March 25, 2008
“Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the super delegates, but also the ordinary ones trying to do the right and the smart thing.”
There’s a piece on the Politico website (dyn.Politco.com), published yesterday, that is called “The Clinton Myth,” the gist of which is that she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning. You should read the entire article, but here are the opening paragraphs.
One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.
Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.
Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.
People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.
For the record, I am not writing this from my office on the planet Zork, nor am I an illegal alien of the technically correct type. Also for the record, I think the Clinton campaign, which I favor, is in a world of trouble. Yes, she needs to do really well in the remaining primaries, well enough to make the argument that she’s won in the states with the highest total electoral count, and would therefore be the more effective candidate to run against McCain – an argument that I suspect will weigh impressively upon super and regular delegates alike.
That having been said, will someone please remember that elected Democratic delegates are not precisely required to vote for their state candidate on even the first, let alone the second and subsequent ballots. According to section 12.J. of the Delegate Selection Rules, “Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” That’s it. That’s all it says. They could have written the rules to say something like, “…shall invariably reflect the votes that elected the Delegate at his or her state primary or caucus,” but they didn’t. “Sentiments” are subject to interpretation and tend to change during a protracted campaign.
Many delegates will be from states whose primaries and caucuses were months ago. They and their constituents may be having second thoughts about Senator Obama’s experience, policies and personal beliefs. Would Iowa and other early, Obama honeymoon states favoring his candidacy produced the same results had the Pastor Wright mess been raised before they voted?There are roughly seven months between the first primary and the convention, seven months of hard fought campaigning against a backdrop of important domestic and foreign events. Obama supporters may have second thoughts, as well might early Clinton advocates. If we had a national primary, with the convention soon thereafter, time wouldn’t be so much of a factor – but we don’t, and it is.
If Senator Clinton can survive the first ballot at the Democratic convention, and depending upon how the last 11 primaries go, she may have a real chance of winning. Delegate support for both candidates will become fluid, and there’s no telling what could happen. Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the super delegates, but also the ordinary ones trying to do the right and the smart thing.
Predictably, some Democratic Party leaders and other notables fear an open convention. These are what I call “Tidy Democrats” who publicly abhor the clutter of real democratic process in favor of wanting to broker their own solutions by frightening us into thinking we’ll lose in November if we’re not polite to each other. They miss the point, and need to be reminded who’s really in charge of their Party.
In a close and highly contested race, what’s the point of having a convention if it isn’t open?
As for Politico’s point about no one being willing to tell a Black candidate that strict adherence to the process for nominating a Democrat for President has denied him a victory, it’s a notion that sells Senator Obama and other Black Americans – “the party’s most reliable constituency” – short. It presumes that their only reaction to all things is racial and, as such, insults their intelligence and sophistication as voters. Of course, if I were Black, it would be nice to have someone who looked like me in The White House. If it doesn’t happen this time, it will happen soon, quite possibly with a Barack Obama candidacy in 2012 or 16. So what? Hillary Clinton is a woman representing a full half of the population that has never held the same high office. Whoever wins, this election is history in the making.
He may not like the outcome, but I suspect Senator Obama and most other Black voters would agree that it makes no more sense to give him the nomination because he’s Black, than to deny him the opportunity for the same reason.