Syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter have written columns
this week urging Sen. Hillary Clinton to drop out of the Democratic race for
president now, before the primaries March 4 in Ohio and Texas.
This is ridiculous. If Sen. Clinton loses in Ohio or Texas (and especially if she
loses in both) "Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin" not only will be scribbled on the wall of
her campaign headquarters, it'll be flashing in neon lights from the Goodyear blimp.
March 4 is next Tuesday. We can wait until then to see what the Moving Finger
writes. Hillary Clinton certainly will.
Mr. Novak and Mr. Alter argue Sen. Clinton should drop out now because even if she
wins all the delegates in the remaining primaries and caucuses, she won't have
enough to win the nomination.
That's true. But thanks to the Democrats' idiot rules, Sen. Obama would have to win
75 percent of the remaining delegates to claim the nomination outright, something he
can't possibly do, if Sen. Clinton wins, however narrowly, in Ohio and Texas.
Elections are the best way to determine who should hold political power. But for
elections to have meaning, winners have to win, and losers lose. The principal
reason why Democrats face the (for them) nightmarish prospect of a brokered
convention in Denver is because they have mandated proportional representation in
all their primaries and caucuses. So winners win only a little, and losers don't
The other reason why there could be a deadlock in Denver is the Democratic fondness
for "super delegates." The Democrats have, I think wisely, made all Democratic
senators, governors and congressman automatically delegates. Who better would know
the strengths and weaknesses of Democratic presidential candidates than these
people, all of whom were elected to their offices?
But there is no sound principle Democrats can't screw up, and they screwed up the
superdelegate concept by extending it to the chairs of the left-handed lesbian
caucus and the transgendered dwarf caucus and every other special interest group you
could think of. The result is the Democrats have 796 super delegates whose votes
are not bound by the results of the primary or caucus in their state. Barring a
total meltdown by Sen. Clinton, it's the super delegates who'll determine who the
Democratic nominee will be.
This has caused angst among supporters of Sen. Obama. The super delegates, they
say, have a moral obligation to vote the way their states did. This could produce
hilarious results. Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachussetts have been Sen.
Obama's biggest name supporters in Congress. Are they obliged to vote for Mrs.
Clinton because she won the Massachussetts primary?
Supporters of Sen. Obama understandably would be angry if he loses the nomination
despite having won more delegates in the primaries and caucuses. But if Hillary
wins in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, she has a good case to make.
Sen. Obama has a lead in delegates chiefly because he racked up huge wins in
caucuses in red states. For instance, he won Idaho, 82-17, and Kansas, 74-23. The
lopsided margins were mostly because of the mind-boggling failure of the Clinton
campaign to organize in the caucus states. But no Democrat who stopped smoking dope
more than 30 seconds ago thinks Sen. Obama could carry Idaho or Kansas in a general
Sen. Clinton has won primaries in New York, New Jersey, California, Massachussetts,
and by her reckoning, Florida and Michigan. If she wins Ohio, Texas and
Pennsylvania, she can claim to have won the big states a Democrat must carry to win
A counter argument is that Sen. Obama is the more electable. Current polls show him
leading presumptive GOP nominee John McCain by 3-4 points, with Hillary trailing
Sen. McCain by about the same margin.
But current polls are deceptive, Hillary's camp argues. Sen. Clinton is well known.
All the people who dislike her already dislike her, so she's got nowhere to go but
Sen. Obama, on the other hand, may be at the apogee of his popularity. He's soared
to the heights on elegant but mostly empty rhetoric. Support for him is likely to
decline when his resume and record get more scrutiny. If she wins in Ohio and
Texas, Mrs. Clinton can reasonably argue to the super delegates the air is leaking
from the Obama balloon. But that's only if she wins in Ohio and Texas. We can wait
a week to find out.