Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nancy Pelosi And John Lewis Move Toward Obama

Because of the proportional voting rules established by the Democratic National Committee for the contest for the party's presidential nomination, it now appears that it is possible, even likely, that neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Sen. Hillary Clinton will have sufficient pledged delegates when all the state primaries and caucuses are concluded to win the nomination without the help of the 796 so-called "Super-Delegates."

But in the last 24 hours reports have appeared, most prominently in the New York Times, that party leaders -- including former Vice President Al Gore and three candidates who have pulled out of the nomination contest, former Sen. John Edwards, and Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, -- have been in private talks about assuring that the super-delegates, or at least the preponderant share of them, would move in a bloc behind the candidate who had gotten the most popular votes and/or won most of the primaries and caucuses, thus assuring the candidate who had won the plurality the nomination.

This kind of intercession may well be necessary, because the power-hungry Clintons, epitomes of moral squalor, will try to steal the nomination, even if Hillary wins fewer primaries than Obama and gets less total votes..

Don Van Natta, Jr. and Jo Becker, two New York Times reporters, say in an article appearing today in the newspaper that it appears Gore, Edwards and the others will hold off on their endorsements for now, until the situation is fully clarified, but that they are determined to avoid the divisiveness that would occur should the Democrats end up nominating not the front-runner, but the second most successful candidate in the primaries and caucuses. That result could hand the election in November to Republican Sen. John McCain, now the presumptive Republican nominee.

Right now, it appears that even should Obama narrowly lose key primaries coming up in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania, that due to obtaining a substantial number of delegates under the proporitional system, he would still have more delegates than Clinton.

Apparently recognizing this probability, two important congressional leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia, have been moving Obama's way, even before the next primaries.

Lewis was reported in the New York Times yesterday to have told an NY'T reporter that he felt he would be with Obama at the convention, in part because Obama won a massive majority in Lewis's own predominantly black congressional district in the Atlanta area.

Meanwhile, Pelosi -- a few of whose close associates in the House have already endorsed Obama -- made statements showing that she has moved into the Obama camp on two key issues relating to the convention, even if she is not yet ready to personally endorse him.

First, Pelosi declared, "It would be a problem for the party if the verdict at the convention would be something different than the (Democratic voters) had decided (in the primaries and caucuses). This accepts the present Obama camp's view that the super-delegates should not defy the will of the largest number of the electorate.

The Clinton forces, all too aware that they are lagging in the contest for delegates, have been arguing that because Clinton carried a number of large states, such as New York, New Jersey and California, these should count more with the convention than all the smaller states that Obama has carried, even if collectively he has more delegates. Part of this argument is that the states Clinton has carried have been voting more often Democratic in recent elections than many of the states Obama has been carrying.

Second, Pelosi came out firmly against efforts by the Clinton forces to allow delegations from Florida and Michigan -- two states that moved up their primaries despite the vow by the Democratic National Committee to ban their delegates from the convention if they did so -- to vote at the convention.

Hillary Clinton carried these states, but she was the only candidate to campaign at all in them, and in doing so, she violated a pledge all the candidates, including her, had supposedly made, to skip them.

Pelosi is quoted today as saying, "We can't ignore the rules which everyone else has played by." This too puts her squarely in the Obama camp.

It may be that Pelosi and Lewis are simply leading the way for Gore, Edwards, Biden and Dodd, on the assumption that Obama's edge in delegates now will stand up through the rest of the primaries.

Also, it has to be acknowledged that the Clintons have annoyed these members of the party hierarchy by some of their tactics in the election, especially Bill Clinton playing the racial card in South Carolina, and these members might be looking for excuses to lean toward Obama.

A fight over whether to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations would be reminiscent of the credentials fight that determined the outcome of the 1952 Republican convention, one of the last that saw the struggle over a nomination actually reach the convention floor. In 1952, with the support of the independent California delegation, the Eisenhower forces were able to prevail over the Taft forces by seating several contested Southern delegations friendly to their side, even though Taft had come to the convention with a slight plurality of delegates.

As a result of leaning toward the Eisenhower side, two of the most prominent members of the California delegation, benefitted greatly. Sen. Richard Nixon was named as Eisenhower's vice presidential running mate, and Gov. Earl Warren was appointed, just after Eisenhower moved into the White House, as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In other words, bare knuckled political maneuvering won out in 1952. It is to avoid those kind of maneuvers that Gore, Edwards and others have been discussing moving the super-delegates as a bloc to whoever leads in delegates going into the convention, Obama or Clinton.

The New York Times and Time's political guru, Mark Halperin, have, not for the first time in this campaign, been far ahead in reporting on all these developments. The Los Angeles Times, in the first day of the new editorship of Russ Stanton, does not have any such story on its Web site looking forward to today's paper.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home