Friday, May 9, 2008

So Close to the End

I would have written about the events of this week sooner, but I just recently got back to my room after several days walking on clouds. Our long national nightmare is about to come to an end. The split that many (including myself) predicted for the May 6 primaries came true, but not in the expected fashion. Barack Obama blew out the North Carolina primary by about 220,000 votes while Hillary Clinton won the Indiana contest by only 15,000, essentially a draw in a contest with over 1.2 million votes. Obama's performances came off a week where his ex-pastor stole most of the headlines, his opposition tried to paint him as an elitist that couldn't gain the support of working families, and his rival tried touting a pandering, irresponsible plan to suspend gas taxes for the summer.

It didn't work. Voters turned off the Clinton spin machine and turned on to the man who will be the Democratic nominee. And I know that Obama will be the nominee because Tim Russert told me so. That particular clip has gotten a lot of play online these last few days, and I was watching him live when he said it. That was the first time I really thought to myself, "Wow, this is finally going to end soon, maybe tomorrow." Obama and his message were able to overcome all the extraneous BS, and voters want this process to end.

Well, as we know, Clinton hasn't stopped, and she has continued campaigning hard in the upcoming states of West Virginia (primary next Tuesday), Oregon and Kentucky (primaries May 20). Instead of running a clean, valedictory campaign, Clinton and her lackeys have continued bitching about Michigan and Florida, playing the race card, and even making ridiculous claims about counting Puerto Rico in the even more ridiculous popular vote metric. At first I thought this was because she badly wants to make something out of her failed campaign and lobby for a spot on the ticket. But after making comments in Oregon today criticizing Obama's health care plan as if this was January, I'm really at a loss for what she's going for.

She now has to gain around 70 percent of all remaining delegates to get to the magic number of 2,025. There's only six contests left, and the most delegates at stake in any of them is 55. It's stupid to assume that when the DNC decides the fate of the Florida and Michigan delegates May 31 they're going to assign those delegates based solely on the votes of those illegal contests. Since Tuesday, Obama has picked up 13 superdelegate endorsements while Clinton has a net gain of 0 (two new endorsements and two defections to Obama). According to our friends at 2008 Democratic Convention Watch, Obama only needs 1.5 more superdelegate endorsements to finally overtake Clinton's once vast lead. Even Rahm Emanuel, the 4th-ranking Democrat in the House and one of Bill Clinton's closest advisers during his presidency, when the Russert route today and called Obama "the presumptive nominee." I'll say that Clinton has every right to stay in this race until someone hits 2,025, or more realistically, the 1,627 majority in pledged delegates that Obama should clinch with a win in Oregon (it's being suggested he will declare victory that night). Clinton is assured to win in WV and KY but there won't be enough delegates to catch up after 5/20.

So I'm still at a loss about what all this means. Besides it being her general right to stay in the race until Obama gets certain majorities, she's definitely doing more damage than good by staying in and raising consistent concerns about his electablity, especially when she disgustingly suggests Obama can't win "white voters." There's no reason to believe that she'll go back on her word of offering 100% support to whomever the Democratic nominee is. When she's in that position this summer and fall, she's going to be the one to try and convince "white voters" to come over to Obama. I wish that was the approach she was taking. Instead she's continuing to try and splinter the party and hurt everyone in the process. If her campaign tries to say that winning most of WV's whopping 28 delegates is a game-changer, then I don't think I'm going to take anything they say seriously until she says the words "Barack Obama will be our next president."

The fighting has already begun between Obama and John McCain, an awesome battle that I'm ready to observe with the greatest of fervor for the next five months. Obama gave a speech today where he never once mentioned Clinton and pointed all his verbal missiles at the man from Arizona. I don't know that we've ever had a campaign where the two major candidates were so different in so many respects. A brash upstart versus the (literally) old guard, a 25-year age discrepancy, and almost entirely different ideas about where the country should go. It goes without saying that the 2008 general election should be an epic battle. Of course, all Obama has to ask people is whether or not they want a third Bush term, because that's what they'd get with McCain. Maybe it won't be so close in the end.

Have a good weekend.

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