Saturday, March 22, 2008

Letter to a superdelegate

I wrote the following email to a superdelegate I contact every single time the Clintons go praising McCain at Obama's expense--like this one.

What follows is what I wrote to my superdelegate contact regarding this incident:

I agree that it's sad for one of our Democratic candidates to be kneecapping another. But what makes it even sadder is that--as is now being realized--Senator Clinton stands very little chance of winning.

Her only--and small--chance of winning comes from trying to damage Obama's electability enough to the point at which superdelegate start calculating that nominating Obama becomes more of a liability than overturning the pledged delegate count and (likely) the total popular vote.

Unless superdelegates start repudiating this strategy publicly, we're going to see more and more of this, because if there's one thing the Clinton campaign has shown, it's that they will say and do whatever it takes to hang onto the possibility of winning, and it doesn't matter who--or what states--they have to throw under the bus to do that. Just look at the reaction to Governor Richardson's endorsement today.

Meanwhile, Obama takes the most damaging thing that his campaign has experienced to date, and delivers a once-in-a-generation speech that could change the way we talk about race in this country (and contrast that with the noncommittal response to Geraldine Ferraro).

So in short, we can expect more of the same to continue--and the end result will be that Obama will be double-teamed all the way until the convention. From there, either we will have a damaged Obama running against a McCain who has had enough soundbites given to him by Hillary in the primary to last an entire election season, or--and this is the far less likely option--we will have a Clinton candidacy that has already alienated entire states and a significant section of the progressive movement (Clinton's campaign surrogates repeatedly calling Obama voters a bunch of prius-driving, latte-sipping elitists didn't increase her likeability in my eyes) damaged by a fractured convention that essentially overturns the results of the primaries and caucuses.

This is the hardest sell I'm going to give you here: if you're a superdelegate without a firm committment to the Clinton campaign, the only way to stop either those two options is to publicly repudiate these tactics and to declare support for Senator Obama as soon as possible. That way, we can avoid two more months of our likely nominee being double-teamed, and concentrate our efforts on attacking McCain, rather than praising him at every opportunity.

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