Tuesday, April 22, 2008

After Pennsylvania, Superdelegates Should Examine Crossover Republicans

Thought I got bored with the presidential election? Tuned out? Not exactly. The real answer, if you look and listen closely, can be found in this debate of talking heads.

On the day of the all deciding, all knowing, all confetti breaking loose Pennsylvania Primary, I have a lot on my mind. Sorry, but no links. You'll just have to trust that I know what I'm talking about.

Contrary to talking head opinions, Pennsylvania and Clinton's momentum in it (or lack thereof) will not decide the election. How many times do I have to hear "New York, California, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania..." (sometimes they even throw in Florida, as if that could somehow make a difference), and what follows it, to paraphrase, "If Obama can't win in the big states with big prizes of delegates, how can he expect to win in November?"

Idiotic profundity, as far as I'm concerned. That's the real reason I haven't been weighing in.

Obama leads in delegates. No matter what Clinton does or which states she wins from today on, Pennsylvania included, she cannot win the number of delegates needed to cinch the nomination. Prove me wrong, go ahead, the comments section is open.

That means the Democratic nominee will be decided by superdelegates, many of whom, at this stage of the election, will not commit to a candidate. We all know Democratic Party elders have leaned on them to commit. Whether they will actually do so when all states have held their primaries is any one's guess. But assuming they will, how should superdelegates decide?

Many say by looking to the popular vote, i.e. tallying up all primary votes to determine which candidate received the majority. I strenuously disagree.

Florida and Michigan were disenfranchised and though these states went to Clinton, who knows how many of their citizens didn't bother to vote? The other Democratic contenders, Obama included, didn't wage campaigns there. This on instructions of the Democratic Party. This on instructions which practically all Democratic contenders heeded except Hillary Clinton. This, in itself, shows how much Clinton is in this race for herself. But more on this point later.

Superdelegates can neither count nor discount votes in Michigan or Florida because these votes were not obtained in a fair manner. Hold primaries there again? Out of the question. Nobody will foot the bill. Not to mention the havoc it would play with the candidates' schedules. Not to mention the black eye to a Party already deciding not to seat those delegates. Not to mention whatever else I've been too busy to read as to why voters in those states will not get a second bite of the apple.

At this stage of the election, the popular vote is no longer fair game. What would have been fair back at the time of the Potomac Primaries is no longer relevant. Because of Florida and Michigan, we Democrats can never truly know which candidate won the popular vote. Now that Clinton has turned the process into an ugly mud fight for the benefit of the Republicans, all bets are off and the popular vote should go out the window with it.

I don't know about other Democrats, but at this stage of the election, I'm sticking by my party. And what I see are two candidates, Clinton and Obama, who are virtually identical on the issues. The only thing separating them, as pointed out by the talking heads video, is character and ability to lead.

Sorry if you disagree with me, but I don't think there's any question which candidate is superior in these two areas.

Clinton is not be trusted. Bosnia isn't the only lie in this woman's past. Clinton is Machiavellian when it comes to politics. Just look at the way she and Carville lashed out at Bill Richardson. Contrary to her New Hampshire crocodile tears, it's obvious to almost everyone I speak that Clinton is in this race for herself. She will do more damage to the country with policies she and Obama share than Obama ever could.

Obama, despite what talking heads want to say about his lack of patriotism, his questionable associations, and his supposed lack of experience (a subject for a later article), possesses basic goodness and decency. Obama has something Clinton will never have, couldn't have for all the spin in the news cycle.

Conviction of principles.

Make no mistake about this, my fellow Democrats, the Republicans are having a field day over Clinton's dirty politics and the piggybacking antics of John McCain. Obama has been taken through the wringer about his personal associations and out of context comments regarding bitter voters. Not that questions about such matters are off limits -- they are not -- but these questions and Obama's responses to them are muddying the waters at a time when John McCain is literally getting a free pass. Normally, these types of accusations are traded between candidates when each Party's nominee has been decided.

The only ones trading blows here are the Democrats!

At this stage of the election, anyone who is not truly affiliated with the Democrats has no right to weigh in on the Democratic nominee. I wish conservative talk radio hosts would get back to the issues. Fed up? You bet I am. These people are laughing themselves silly over Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos." When they bash Obama, and Clinton and her supporters jump on the bandwagon, it hurts the Democrats.

I know this is so obvious it sounds stupid, but the Republicans have an agenda. They bash Obama because they want to run their weak candidate, McCain, against the weaker of the Democratic candidates, Clinton. Whether Democrats are too divisive within their own party to realize this is happening, I'm not certain. All I know is that it is indeed happening. And Clinton will ride this wave of Obama criticism without regret or a second thought for the Party as far as it will take her, all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue until superdelegates put down their collective feet, stand their ground and say, "Enough!"

We all know Clinton will change with the wind, has already proven she will flop with public opinion, will alter course on any plan of action to appease criticism, will fire campaign staff at will and stomp on loyalty if it means ratcheting up her voter favoritism a notch. First woman president fantasies be damned, this is not a person the majority of Americans will vote to occupy the White House come November.

Whether she wrests the nomination from the hands of Obama in a knock down drag out fight to the end, Clinton cannot win the general election. The only thing Hillary Clinton will ever achieve from this point on is bringing the Democratic Party down in flames. That's what Republicans are hoping for, praying for, folks. Four more fat years under John McCain. They'll worry about 2012 later.

How do I know? Let's just say I talk to people. All kinds of people. Republicans included. What do they grumble about under their breath? They don't like McCain. In fact, they may crossover to the Democrat in this election, that's how much they don't like their annoited nominee.

Will they vote for Clinton? No. But they might cast a vote for Obama. Maybe. Perhaps. It depends upon a lot of different factors. However, unlike when these Republicans discuss Clinton, they haven't ruled out the possibility of a vote for Obama. Therein lies the real difference between the last two Democrats standing. The superdelegates would be wise to take notice.

In Clinton's zeal to win the nomination at all costs, she has forgotten the simple tenet of Party loyalty. She has forgotten how her personal actions could result in victory for the Republicans. This late in the process, with McCain their lock nominee and her "take no prisoners" battle cry, Clinton is rapidly scraping the shine off the Democrats one true chance to win back the White House.

When Pennsylvania primary results come trickling in tonight, if Clinton should emerge victorious, I just hope the superdelegates will have the guts and courage of conviction to look past the short term. A handful of wins in large states does not, will not assure a Clinton victory in the general election. When push comes to shove, when this battle finally does reach its culmination, the war will be won on the backs of crossover Republicans.

Could it be any more clear which of the two Democrats has the best chance of meeting them on the other side?