Media Mavens Beg For Primaries To End
A visibly exhausted Wolf Blitzer melted down in CNN's Situation Room today, suddenly turning away from a holographic display specially invented to explain the trans-dimensional Texas primaries, stating "Can Senator Clinton suffer a setback and keep on going? Wait a minute. No, no, that's it. Look, people--I'm sorry. I can't take the over-analysis anymore. Just let the Texans vote!"
Blitzer's attitude was apparently catching, with MSNBC's Tim Russert describing guest political commentator James Carville as a "glass-chewing bat-eared freak" who he advised to "get help or go back on meds." Russert then responded to conservative guest William Bennett in a low-voiced aside, "Take another trip to Vegas, Sparky," an apparent reference to Mr. Bennett's rumored gambling addiction.
Ok, those things only happened in the achievable fantasies of my mind. Rather, the media exists to sell air time by accentuating controversy, and behind their airbrushed earnesty the talking heads currently look as if they're about to pop like champagne corks. They're happy because Barack Obama's string of victories appears to be broken, an 11-primary run in which his smallest margin of victory was by 17 percentage points. After an absence of two centuries, Vermont and Rhode Island are electorally meaningful again. The Heads are even happier with the thought of a divided Democratic convention, which appears increasingly likely.
Simple math dictates that Hillary Clinton can't overtake Obama in either pledged delegates or popular votes; to draw even in delegates, she would have to win all remaining 16 states by 20 percentage points, a margin Obama leads by in Vermont and Mississippi surveys. Obama has nearly drawn even in committed superdelegates, a group generally not distinguished by the courage of its convictions and which knows going against a home state's popular vote is to quaff political pesticide. Yet even if he takes a lead amongst superdelegates, it's still possible that Obama would fall short of the 2,024 delegates required to take his party's nomination.
The Clinton plan to win boils down to "seating" Michigan and Florida delegates, ones currently disallowed because each state chose to break party rules by holding early primaries. The Clinton campaign pleads that these states shouldn't be disenfranchised, and while they'll probably not be allowed to pencil down all those delegates as theirs, the disenfranchisement argument is strong. There has been talk of Michigan and Florida holding do-over caucuses; the Democratic National Committee (chaired by Howard Dean) loves caucuses because they've gotten lots of new people to register and existing members more involved than any time since 1959. The DNC has already gone on the record pushing Michigan to caucus. The contest may not extend beyond June, but the nomination may ultimately come down to those two prodigal states. Party leadership is ready to proffer a compromise of caucuses, and the Clintons will be in no position to turn it down.