Breaking Free

It appears that we may be seeing the first signs of the long predicted super delegate move against Sen. Clinton. Casey’s endorsement today of Obama is a clear sign — he’d been pledged to neutrality. Also of note is Dodd’s call to bring the race to a close and Leahy’s call for Sen. Clinton to get out of the race. On the one hand that’s hardly surprising. They’ve both already endorsed Obama. So of course they want him to win it. But it’s also a line they’ve been unwilling to cross to this point — and a high hurdle for a fellow senator.

What’s caught my eye even more (and we’re putting together a piece on this) has been the trickle of comments — often only noted in local papers — from Clinton super-delegates who are maintaining their support for Hillary but also saying that that support either may or will change if Obama wins the majority of the pledged delegates.

There are clearly a number of forces in play here, not least of which is the clock and the math. But also playing a clear role are the initial signs that Obama has weathered the Wright controversy relatively unscathed. And perhaps more than anything the fact that in the last week or so the Clinton campaign has just descended into something like an all-night shark hop.

The letter from Hillary’s top funders threatening to cut off funds to the DCCC if Pelosi wouldn’t change her position on pledged delegates was clumsily goonish, but more than that just silly. As Atrios notes, about a third of the superdelegates are members of the DCCC, i.e., Democratic members of Congress. Presumably it’s not a strong argument for them.

The Bosnia thing would be a couple days of embarrassment if it weren’t for the fact that it was her speech line in an argument that is fundamentally bogus — namely, her claim that she has significant foreign policy experience in the legislative and executive branches. Again, as I’ve said before, an argument she doesn’t need to make. Many great commanders-in-chief have come to the presidency without such experience. But her campaign’s arguments on this front have been an insult to one’s intelligence.

And now there’s this.

In a conference call with Texas supporters, as reported by ABC News …

“Right now, among all the primary states, believe it or not, Hillary’s only 16 votes behind in pledged delegates,” said Bill Clinton, “and she’s gonna wind up with the lead in the popular vote in the primary states. She’s gonna wind up with the lead in the delegates [from primary states].”

“It’s the caucuses that have been killing us,” he added.

Support for Bill Clinton has been a foundational part of my political identity. But I just find this sad. Perhaps especially because of that. Newsflash: Mitt Romney is ahead in the popular vote among the states that he won. It’s not quite that silly. But it’s close. Hillary’s ahead if you lop off half the nomination process. And that’s the thing, she’s not even ahead among primaries. As I’ve noted previously, I’m a bit of a caucus skeptic. But even among primaries she’s not ahead. The only rationale for a dim view of caucuses is their relatively low turnout compared to primaries. But it’s really not clear to me what the rationale is for writing off the votes of the people who actually participated.

But this is the essential silliness of this argument or perhaps its purpose, that it pulls you down into this rabbit hole of nonsense that momentarily distracts you from its essential ridiculousness. It’s like the Patriots on their final drive against the Giants saying that if you went by just touchdowns they were actually tied.

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