Published in the New York Post on February 21, 2008.
Barack Obama’s victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday was just the latest sign that Hillary Clinton’s desperate, anti-democratic moves to salvage her bid for the Democratic nomination are destroying her last chances to win a fair fight.
Loudly and publicly, the Clintons proclaim that superdelegates should feel free to ignore the wishes of the folks back home and jam Hillary’s nomination through at the convention. They openly predict that they’ll demand the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegations, totally contravening the party’s rules.
Do they think the voters aren’t listening to these authoritarian pronouncements, reminiscent of the days before the McGovern Commission reforms brought democracy to the Democratic Party?
The Clintons’ approach is driving voters into Obama’s arms in droves. What better example of what he calls “old-style Washington politics” than the use of superdelegates to nullify the will of the voters?
National tracking polls show Obama gaining almost daily – and all now put him in the lead. That reflects popular anger at the Clintons’ tactics.
If the Clintons actually follow through on their threats, the uprising of rank-and-file Democrats will bring back memories of the 1968 demonstrations in Chicago’s Lafayette Park, which forced the party to adopt democratic reforms in the first place.
But the fact that they’re alienating voters so massively while voting’s still underway makes it less and less likely that they’ll be able to force the convention’s hand.
Particularly pernicious is the Clintons’ demand that Florida and Michigan delegates be seated at the convention. Obama and John Edwards went along with the party’s request to avoid those primaries because the locals had dared to vault ahead of the states planning votes on Super Tuesday.
In fact, Florida’s Democratic primary drew hundreds of thousands of votes less than the GOP primary – an unmistakable sign that many voters stayed home in obedience to party rules. But Hillary still wants to count their votes.
Reacting to the Clintons’ threats, party elders like former Vice President Al Gore are reportedly waiting in the wings to adjudicate any issues before the Clintons split the party. He is, presumably, ready to administer the “Coup de Gore” – finishing off Hillary’s political ambitions before she can resort to the kind of desperate scorched-earth practices her campaign is threatening.
Fueled by popular disgust with the Clintons’ tactics – first their use of the race issue, and now their reliance on party bosses to thwart the popular will – voters are likely to hand state after state over to Obama. It’s increasingly unlikely that Clinton will win even one of them.
Her vaunted lead in Texas, based on the huge Hispanic vote, has already vanished. Even if Clinton wins the March 4 primary, which choses two-thirds of the state’s delegates, she’ll falter in the primary-night caucuses that pick the other third. Obama’s younger, more energetic and openly enthusiastic supporters generally dominate caucuses; he can likely count on nullifying any Clinton primary win.
In Ohio and Pennsylvania, she’s based her hopes on her supposed lead among downscale, blue-collar voters. But much of her lead with this group is attributable to their lack of familiarity with Obama – and his near-weekly victory speeches on TV are filling in that gap. They’ll will inch – or pour – away from the Clinton column.
Granted, some downscale voters are motivated by a desire to see a woman elected and others by racial prejudice – but many will desert to Obama the better they come to know him.
Hillary Clinton’s chances are dwindling daily.