Friday, May 09, 2008

Waitin' for the Hammer to Fall

And so it begins...

Obama has just picked up three -- make that five -- superdelegate endorsements, compared with one for Hillary. One of these, in fact, switched from backing her to backing him. I think it's safe to say that this will turn into a steady trickle ahead of Tuesday. If the DNC has any behind-the-curtains opinions, they pretty much need to act now. I don't think anyone would cry foul if a sizeable number of superdelegates pledged for Obama at this point. People definitely would if they pledged for Hillary, though I've noted, and David Limbaugh makes the case more persuasively, that it would be unfair if they did. The race is in exactly the situation that calls for superdelegate intervention, in fact. Superdelegates function like a check on the popular nominating process, making sure that the strategists who actually have to coordinate party interests in Washington with the new president if elected, and who have to actually manage the behind-the-scenes stuff that's crucial to any campaign's success, get someone they can work with. There are really two scenarios where you might want superdelegates calling an election. One when the public has been hasty, and the other to break a tie. One could argue that both, in fact, apply here - that Obama is running mostly on "momentum" now, and that his actual constituency (blacks and latte drinkers) is a McGovern coalition waiting to happen, and that in any event his lead over Clinton isn't convincing enough to hand him the mantel on popular choice alone.

But in line with what I said yesterday, these things have to be played by the rules, and the rules allow the superdelegates to choose how they want. The election has come to a point where it's close enough that they can put their man over the top. And so if they choose to do this for Obama, then he is the legitimate Democratic Party nominee for 2008.

5 endorsements in one day is a lot. It will be interesting to see how many more come in. My only real opinion about this is that if the superdelegates are going to call this race, the worst thing they can do is be timid about it. There will be questions of legitimacy regardless of who the nominee ends up being. That kind of thing kills elections. The most important thing for the Dems if they want to win in 2008 is to be able to rally behind a leader. If the superdelegates are going to call it for Obama now, they need to do it decisively, preferably (from their point of view), decisively enought to shut down Hillary's completely duplicitous bid to have Michigan and Florida counted. Letting delegates trickle in for Obama while Clinton goes on to claim West Virginia by a huge margin on Tuesday is only going to cause more confusion and division. Which is GREAT for the Republicans, of course, but I'm Libertarian, and thereby agnostic about what happens to McCain and buddies. So - Dear Democratic Superdelegates: if you're going to do this thing, do it right and do it now.

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