Thursday, March 6, 2008

Flip a Coin For President

Flip a Coin For President
By Jerome Grossman

Barack Obama was on a "roll" as they stay in the clubhouse of the Boston Red Sox. He had won 11 straight primaries, all but one in smaller states as the Hillary Clinton campaign reserved its money and energies for the biggest states. And indeed Hillary won California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan and Florida.

The Obama campaign looked like the New England Patriots as they approached the Super Bowl with a record of 18 straight victories. Defeat was unthinkable. The Obama organization, like the Patriots, was justifiably touted as the best in the business. The candidate was tall, handsome, and brilliant with a remarkable gift for oratory. Moreover, it had political smarts and powerful political momentum.

But on March 5 in the super duper primaries for Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont, the underdog rose up and defeated the big dog in every state but tiny Vermont, just as the New England Patriots lost to the under dog New York Giants in the Super Bowl. In that one event, much of the air went out of the Obama campaign. It was no longer a perfect instrument; it had failed and lost momentum. Even the candidate seemed diminished as he repeated his mantra of hope, change and inspiration. But not diminished enough to call for Tom Brady as substitute candidate, for Tom Brady, the Patriots inspiration had also been seriously diminished by losing.

Nothing succeeds like success. Even Hillary's negatives have gone down. Her campaign now has momentum as the contest moves into the final quarter. When Hillary wins Pennsylvania on April 22, neither candidate will have enough delegates for nomination at the convention. It will be up to the super delegates to break the virtual tie. Remarkably, Hillary has revived her relatively inefficient campaign three times: after Iowa, South Carolina and the eleven defeats, while the media constantly shows their distaste for her.

Right now, it appears that the super delegates will decide the nomination. The super delegates are appointed, not elected, from the ranks of political big shots who think they own the party: Senators, Representatives, Governors, bureaucrats past and present, donors and professional politicians. They can vote for whomever they please. They don't have to run for delegate and perhaps be defeated. They can play it safe and wait until they see the likely winner. Predictably, the Obama and Clinton campaigns are putting maximum pressure on the super delegates, including making serious financial donations to their political committees.

Some super delegates are in embarrassing situations. Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, and Governor Deval Patrick endorsed Obama before the Massachusetts primary. But the state voted heavily for Hillary Clinton. Caroline Kennedy's endorsement did not prevent a big Clinton win in New York, nor did Patrick Kennedy save Rhode Island, nor Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger save California. US Representative John Lewis switched from Clinton to Obama partly because a rival candidate made it an issue and filed to oppose him for reelection.

Hillary has a chance to pick up 366 delegates in Michigan and Florida where she won primaries that were disqualified for breaking party rules but there will be intense opposition. It seems inconceivable that the millions of voters in those two big states can be effectively disenfranchised. Especially in Florida, where the violation was made by the Republican Governor and legislature. This battle on the convention floor could harm party unity and jeopardize victory in November.

An ideal solution for this dangerous rivalry would be to nominate both Obama and Clinton, one for President, the other for Vice President. Which one on top? Flip a coin. They are both superb candidates who would represent the party with distinction.


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