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No, it ain’t over ... yet

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She is in it to win. Surprisingly, some observers either don't see it, or for whatever reason don't want to admit that the long road to the Democratic National Convention is getting longer.

Conventional wisdom holds that in a few weeks, not only will Barack Obama have done enough to capture enough pledged delegates so that the ever-elusive and undecided super delegates will fall into line behind his candidacy, but that Hillary Clinton will pull herself out of the presidential contest so that Obama can target his fire at John McCain.

It's certainly a line of wishful thinking embraced by Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, who can't go on cable news enough to remind his party's super delegates that he wants them to have their minds made up about who they will be supporting by the first week of June.

Dean has claimed no preference, but having stared defeat in the face, it appears that he hopes Hillary will recognize what he did four years earlier — that sure-bet nominations don't always materialize.

Former Clinton confidant-turned-critic Dick Morris has gleefully proclaimed Hillary's demise for months. He, like so many others, claims the delegate math has made it hard — if not virtually impossible — for her to win. Morris has been busy trying to give reasons for Hillary staying in the race other than winning.  A few weeks ago, he said that she was just trying to raise enough money to pay off her campaign debt. This week, he claimed that she was trying to deep-six Obama's chances for victory in November, so that she can mount a comeback in 2012.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote weeks ago that Hillary should get out because her entire strategy was based on Obama stumbling, which apparently by his standards isn't reason enough to continue. But some Clinton supporters reject the notion that she should abruptly end her campaign, especially at a time when Obama is facing tough questions about his electability, not to mention that he doesn't have his delegate math worked out.

That said, Obama's tough questions are a result of cultural and racial divisions coming to the surface in the Democratic Party. His now famous guns-and-God remarks have taken a toll on his candidacy.

Exit polls from the recent Pennsylvania primary showed that the Illinois senator struggled with rural white Democrats, which his comments so clearly targeted. Those same exit polls showed that a percentage of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania said they did not support Obama because he was black.

Explaining this apparent racism in the Democratic Party isn't hard. It became clear following Bill Clinton's inexcusable remarks both before and after the South Carolina primary that the Clintons' strategy was to label Obama the black candidate, which worked, but at the same time did great harm to Hillary.

Furthermore, it's not surprising that a party that divides and conquers by exploiting race in general elections would succumb to distinctions being drawn on racial lines in a primary — especially when the differences between the two candidates are inconsequential. But, it's not all the Clintons' doings. After the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's now famous comments about the 9/11 attacks (and other subjects) were made public, Obama's stumbling defense of and failure to separate himself from his pastor fed the image the Clintons were trying to sell.

It's conceivable that had Hillary not stumbled all over details of landing in the Balkans that she would have been able to gain more from Obama's misfortune.

Obama hasn't been able to put her away and now Hillary is mounting a comeback. Rev. Wright's fascination with the spotlight will continue to isolate Obama, which will make her appear more desirable to the Democratic voters who have yet to vote. There is a real possibility that the super delegates could become consumed with misgivings about nominating a candidate who increasingly appears to be unelectable. And as long as that reality exists, she isn't going away.

 

David Sanders writes twice weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock and is a host of the Arkansas Education Television Network's “Unconventional Wisdom.” His e-mail address is DavidJSanders@aol.com. Ernest Dumas is on vacation.

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