The popular wisdom after Barack Obama’s pummeling victory in North Carolina and no less an authority than Tim Russert declared him the presumptive nominee was that the superdelegates would seal the deal and stampede toward the Obama campaign. It seemed the logical next and final step in Project Killary: It’s done, so let’s finish it with a final flurry of math murder that will leave the Clinton Campaign gutted and tagged.
But the next day…it didn’t happen. He got a slow leak; a handful. And the next day, another handful or so. And the same the day after that and the day after that and the day after that. And instead of a humiliating pimp-slap of a slaughter, the Obama delegate coffers got just a little fatter each day.
So what’s happening here? Maybe it’s true that he isn’t the preferred nominee of the Democratic Party. Maybe it says that the Dem supers are still on the fence, harboring some doubts about Barack and his viability with white clock-punchers. After all, the pundits and Team Clinton were predicting a massive victory in West Virginia. Who knows something that the rest of us don’t? Does Hillary have something up her poly-blend sleeve that’s giving the Dem power-brokers pause; that can arrest Obama’s inexorable but still undefinitive march toward the nomination? Obama hot-tubbing with Khaled Mashal, or popping E and clubbing with Miley Cyrus? It’s gotta be something. This can’t be good, right?
Well, that’s what you’d think.
God bless Terry McAuliffe for his loyalty and his bulldog determination long after the doctor has already zipped the body bag closed–I’d certainly want him in my corner if I were a candidate arguing for tax-exempt status for NAMBLA or whites-only public spaces. But the question that I was hoping Chris Matthews would ask him Tuesday night while the former DNC chair and unbending Clinton loyalist was crowing about Hillary’s commanding victory in the Mountain State was: Terry, how many supers did your girl pick up this week?
If you’ve been harboring a sneaking suspicion that the Obama campaign is being stage-managed better than Up With People, you might not be wrong. It’s been curious to me that there’s been less than a flood but a steady and reliable leak of superdelegates each day. The last several days it’s never been less than four or so supers pledging for Senator Obama. If that had been twenty at once it would have been a one-day newscycle. But a handful here, and a handful the next day, and so on, and there’s a story every day to trump Hillary’s commitment from a half-delegate from Americans abroad or sullying her expectations of a landslide victory in a state little bigger than a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Then, when she and Terry McAuliffe seem to have a newsday to themselves to go to the airwaves and tout her West Virginia victory as the most shocking and significant victory since the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets in 1980, here comes Barack Obama with the second-most coveted endorsement of the campaign season and Hillary’s Mountain State triumph gets bumped from the rotation for the girl who sold 17,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
It’s no small feat to control a body the size of the uncommitted superdelegates, but if Team Obama is controlling this steady drip, drip, drip of supers, then he’s got a control on the party that hasn’t been seen since the days of Tip O’Neill, and maybe even LBJ’s days as Majority Leader. Regardless, this is a leak they’re in no hurry to fix.