Friday, April 25, 2008

Is It All Over (Superdelegates Making Up Their Minds) But The Shouting?

Democrats' Suspense May Be Unnecessary

At, Elizabeth Drew reports:
The torrent of speculation about the end game of the Democratic nomination contest is creating a false sense of suspense – and wasting a lot of time of the multitudes who are anxious to know how this contest is going to turn out.

Notwithstanding the plentiful commentary to the effect that the Pennsylvania primary must have shaken superdelegates planning to support Barack Obama, causing them to rethink their position, key Democrats on Capitol Hill are unbudged.

“I don’t think anyone’s shaken,” a leading House Democrat told me. The critical mass of Democratic congressmen that has been prepared to endorse Obama when the timing seemed right remains prepared to do so. Their reasons, ones they have held for months, have not changed – and by their very nature are unlikely to.

Essentially, they are three:

(a) Hillary Rodham Clinton is such a polarizing figure that everyone who ever considered voting Republican in November, and even many who never did, will go to the polls to vote against her, thus jeopardizing Democrats down the ticket – i.e., themselves, or, for party leaders, the sizeable majorities they hope to gain in the House and the Senate in November.

(b) To take the nomination away from Obama when he is leading in the elected delegate count would deeply alienate the black base of the Democratic Party, and, in the words of one leading Democrat, “The superdelegates are not going to switch their votes and jeopardize the future of the Democratic Party for generations.” Such a move, he said, would also disillusion the new, mostly young, voters who have entered into politics for the first time because of Obama, and lose the votes of independents who could make the critical difference in November.

(c) Because the black vote can make the decisive difference in numerous congressional districts, discarding Obama could cost the Democrats numerous seats.

One Democratic leader told me, “If we overrule the elected delegates there would be mayhem.” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claim that she has, or will have, won the popular vote does not impress them – both because of her dubious math and because, as another key Democrat says firmly, “The rules are that it’s the delegates, period.” (These views are closely aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement earlier this year that the superdelegates should not overrule the votes of the elected delegates.)

Furthermore, the congressional Democratic leaders don’t draw the same conclusion from Pennsylvania and also earlier contests that many observers think they do: that Obama’s candidacy is fatally flawed because he has as yet been largely unable to win the votes of working class whites. They point out something that has been largely overlooked in all the talk – the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries were closed primaries, and, one key congressional Democrat says, “Yes, he doesn’t do really well with a big part of the Democratic base, but she doesn’t do well with independents, who will be critical to success in November.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crazy? Or Crazy Like A Fox?

What Bill Clinton's Odd Denial of Previous Day's Comment ("They Played the Race Card On Me") May Be About....Because He Surely Did Say It

Here are Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd talking about on Pennsylvania primary day:

MSNBC's pundits have a habit of bending over backwards to give the Clintons every benefit of doubt (or ignore the obvious entirely), and Chuck Todd doesn't break with that tradition.

Let's look at the story as it unfolded on Monday.

CNN reports:
Former President Bill Clinton denied Tuesday he had accused Senator Barack Obama's campaign of "playing the race card" during an interview Monday.

Bill Clinton is facing tough questions Tuesday over an interview with a Delaware radio station.

A recording of the former president making the comment is posted on the WHYY Web site.

It says he made the comment in a telephone interview with the Philadelphia public radio station Monday night.

Clinton was asked whether his remarks comparing Obama's strong showing in South Carolina to that of Jesse Jackson in 1988 had been a mistake given their impact on his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"No, I think that they played the race card on me," said Clinton, "and we now know from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along."

"We were talking about South Carolina political history and this was used out of context and twisted for political purposes by the Obama campaign to try to breed resentment elsewhere. And you know, do I regret saying it? No. Do I regret that it was used that way? I certainly do. But you really got to go some to try to portray me as a racist."

After the phone interview, a stray comment of his on the issue was also recorded before he hung up: "I don't think I should take any s*** from anybody on that, do you?"

But outside a Pittsburgh campaign event Tuesday, a reporter asked Clinton what he had meant "when you said the Obama campaign was playing the race card on you?"

Clinton responded: "When did I say that and to whom did I say that?"

"You have mischaracterized it to get another cheap story to divert the American people from the real urgent issues before us, and I choose not to play your games today," Clinton added.

"I said what I said -- you can go back and look at the interview, and if you will be real honest you will also report what the question was and what the answer was. But I'm not helping you."

Clinton did not respond when asked what he meant when he charged that the Obama campaign had a memo in which they said they had planned to play the race card.

Meanwhile, at a Pittsburgh press availability on Tuesday, Obama was asked about Clinton's charge that his campaign had drawn up plans to use "the race card."

"Hold on a second,'' he said. "So former President Clinton dismissed my victory in South Carolina as being similar to Jesse Jackson and he is suggesting that somehow I had something to do with it?"

"You better ask him what he meant by that. I have no idea what he meant. These were words that came out of his mouth. Not words that came out of mine.''

Clinton commented just before the South Carolina primary that "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."

Question for Bill Clinton: Is your knowledge of these memos (the "memos from the campaign and everything" that you spoke about with Susan Phillips in the WHYY interview that you claim "show that they planned to do it all along") connected to the break-in of Obama campaign offices in Allentown on April 19, 2008, where laptops and cell phones were stolen?

The memo on the subject of race from Amaya Smith, S. Carolina press secretary for Obama for America lists news accounts of events during the campaign, and nothing else.