By A. B. Stoddard - 04/23/08 04:47 PM EDT
Memo to uncommitted superdelegates: Time to find a secure, undisclosed location and remain silent.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) Pennsylvania rout has likely rendered you mute anyway since she won white women, white men, Catholics, Jews, older voters, union members, suburbanites, rural voters, small-town voters, culturally conservative Democrats and working-class Democrats, too. The first to hide should be the uncommitted superdelegates from Pennsylvania, like Rep. Mike Doyle (D), who will now be under tremendous pressure to back Clinton. There are more of you — you know who you are, and Clinton knows your address.
But the party is stuck with Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the pledged-delegate winner whom Clinton cannot catch in votes unless Obama’s campaign implodes. You already know her pitch: Obama can’t win in November. Clinton won’t say it on television but she will tell you one-on-one, in more than one way. She will reassure you of your all-powerful independence as “automatic” delegates tasked with saving the party from political suicide. “The tide is turning” is her newest line.
You know the party won’t break the rules and hand Clinton the nomination. If you were going to choose Clinton you would have done it ages ago. You want this all to end now, and you are tempted to do what Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is asking, and decide now. It would be easier to just declare for Obama, like Gov. Brad Henry of Oklahoma did first thing Wednesday morning, even though Clinton won his state by 22 points. That took some nerve, and of course the Obama campaign knows nothing if not timing.
You may want to rationalize Clinton’s 10-point spread, because of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell’s (D) machine, debate-gate, bitter-gate, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Rush Limbaugh Republicans who changed their voter registration to join “Operation Chaos” and vote for Hillary. You have long tired of Bill Clinton’s fits, like the one he had this week claiming there are “memos” about Obama planning to play the race card on him, and brazenly fudging the facts of his South Carolina comments one more time. You are perhaps exasperated by Hillary’s unseemly kitchen sink tactics, setting the record with Osama bin Laden starring in one of her scary, scare-everyone commercials. Why, even The New York Times, which endorsed Clinton, has had it with her negativity. Then there are her comments about scenarios in which she would “totally obliterate” Iran.
But you know that polls showing 68 percent of Pennsylvania voters thought Clinton attacked Obama unfairly mean people voted for her anyway. You know people respond to bomb threats, scary commercials about 3 a.m. and pictures of terrorists. You know Clinton has won the big, important states on the Electoral College map. You know Obama had seven weeks and spent $9 million and couldn’t keep it close.
Do not give in to temptation. Help save your party from itself by staying out of this. Obama cannot win the general election without Clinton’s voters. They are women and seniors and Jews and Latinos and culturally conservative, blue-collar voters. They matter. And right now, they don’t like Obama. The fastest way to send them into the arms of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is to stop this race now by closing ranks behind Obama. Nothing will make those ardent Hillary-backers angrier than the idea that she was forced out before the true end of the process.
The end is not near, and it will get even uglier. But you must stay put. Look on the bright side: You will get lots of sleep, and there is a pizza place that delivers to bunkers — Vice President Cheney has their number.
Stoddard is an associate editor of The Hill.