Perhaps with that history in mind, Hillary Clinton has long been insisting that Barack Obama has not been thoroughly vetted – as she says she has been – and that the party may be getting another pig in a poke.
Since January 23rd, when the gloves first came off, Clinton and Obama have succeeded in battling each other to a Mexican standoff. But is it ultimately in the best interests of the party to "resolve" the stalemate by forcing Clinton out and simply declaring Obama the winner?
For weeks now, Dem party leaders have been openly fretting that the fight for their party's nomination has devolved into a down-and-dirty freestyle brawl that will cripple the eventual winner's ability to prevail against John McCain in the general election - if nothing else, both candidates are practically writing the scripts for McCain's campaign ads. Those who aren't calling for Clinton to quit now are floating all sorts of schemes to force the roughly 300 uncommitted superdelegates into declaring a preference well ahead of the party's August convention in Denver.
He won't get an argument from The Times, which published an editorial the day after the PA primary titled "The Low Road to Victory," demanding that either Clinton concede the fight or the superdelegates simply declare Obama the winner on points:
The Pennsylvania campaign, which produced yet another inconclusive result on Tuesday, was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate, and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate, pander-filled contests that preceded it.The next day, The Washington Post cautioned against calling the fight prematurely in Obama's favor:
Voters are getting tired of it; it is demeaning the political process; and it does not work.It is past time for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to acknowledge that the negativity, for which she is mostly responsible, does nothing but harm to her, her opponent, her party and the 2008 election. ...
It is getting to be time for the superdelegates to do what the Democrats had in mind when they created superdelegates: settle a bloody race that cannot be won at the ballot box.
This is a contest between two formidable candidates, each of whom has proven appeal to millions of voters. The party rules provide for primaries through early June. Why should voters in those states be told, "Never mind"? The lengthy primary contest may not be in the best interest of the Democratic Party, which would rather be gearing up for November, but it has served to clarify the two candidates' strengths and weaknesses - matters that would come to the fore in the general election anyway. Thanks to the continuing race, Democrats can assess now the impact of Mr. Obama's relationship with his former pastor or his comments about "bitter" working-class voters; likewise, they can take into account Ms. Clinton's rising unfavorability ratings. Democrats can look at the clear demographic divide between the two contenders.
Dem voters appear to be at odds with their party's leadership on the matter. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 53 percent of Dems who support one of the two candidates want the race to end when one candidate clearly wins, rather than as soon as possible, and half do not believe the party's prospects in the general election will be affected if the two candidates battle for the nomination until the bitter end (17 percent even think it's good for their side).
More troubling for the Dems' chances in November, exit polls of 2,270 PA primary voters taken at 40 precincts across the state found that a third of them had a beef against one of the candidates, that one in four Clinton supporters would vote for McCain if Obama is the nominee and that one in six Obama supporters would vote for McCain if Clinton is the nominee. It's impossible to know what percentage of these disaffected voters would actually make good on their threat - or just stay home on Election Day - but they would be less likely to do so if their concerns were completely vetted and allayed, instead of swept under the rug and ignored.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman notes:
[I]n most primaries, Obama has stumbled at the finish line because voters making up their minds during the final 24 hours have tended to break for Clinton, the known quantity. Well, in Pennsylvania it happened again. Eleven percent made up their minds on the last day; 6 out of 10 wound up breaking for Clinton, thereby padding her victory margin. [Emphasis, The Stiletto.]
Clearly, Obama has some 'splaining to do to the voters Clinton is attracting so that he can deliver the knockout punch to her aspirations by getting a substantial percentage of them to vote for him. Bobbing, weaving and ducking won't cut it anymore - for instance, not deigning to address Clinton's charge that he won't be tough on terrorism didn't go over too well in PA, one of the states directly affected by the 9/11 terror attack.
Providence Journal columnist Froma Harrop wants to know: "what was so shocking, terrible and unfair about flashing Osama bin Laden's ugly mug on a political advertisement?" She adds:
Hillary Clinton's TV spot was the first Democratic ad to make pictorial reference to the al-Qaida terrorist. It was about time. ...