Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Superdelegates Remain Mum

Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak asks whether Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's renunciation of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, came too late. It is possible that it has, but it is interesting that Democratic superdelegates have remained on the sidelines at what could have been thought of as a magic moment for finally embracing Hillary Clinton. That they did not do so ought to be encouraging to the Obama camp, and it is, no doubt, infuriating to that of Sen. Clinton.

Why did the superdelegates not embrace Sen. Clinton at a time when her opponent has been severely damaged? I would suggest the following:

1. Over the course of this campaign, Democratic Party leaders have finally figured out and come to resent what outside observers have known for almost 20 years: the Clinton's are more than willing to throw the rest of the Party under the bus in order to promote their own political and personal fortunes. That realization gives them an emotional stake in a Clinton loss.

2. Democratic leaders are calculating that the Wright issue will be largely forgotten by the public by November. In that regard, they think they have the perfect opponent in John McCain, who not only has shown an unwillingness to engage in attacks on the issue, but who has actually tamped down on supporters who tried to raise it. If the Wright problem dies, Sen. Obama is still a stronger candidate for the general election that Sen. Clinton due to her high negative ratings and political tin ear.

3. Democratic leaders fear the repercussions among blacks should they coronate Sen. Clinton on the basis of questionable associations on the part of Sen. Obama. Even with an extremely unpopular Republican President, the Democrats know that they cannot win if they do not continue to receive around 90% of a robust black vote. Should blacks decide to vote for McCain or, nearly as bad, just stay home, the consequences will be a Democratic loss in what should be a banner year.

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