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Michael Russnow

Michael Russnow

Posted: June 4, 2008 03:24 AM

Superdelegates Caved in to Obama: Why Do We Need Them? They Served No Purpose At All


Turning on the TV tonight to watch the first returns from South Dakota and Montana, I was immediately struck and somewhat shocked that a number of superdelegates couldn't wait for the news that might have given them pause to consider what they'd done.

By bagging twenty-six or so of their group, the Obama campaign was able to claim that with only a few additional votes, which he was sure to win in either South Dakota or Montana, he would now be over the 2,118 total to win the Democratic Nomination.

Except that prior to this evening many had predicted that the South Dakota/Montana results would leave him still short of the nomination, and that only after winning those states would the superdelegates rally behind him either late Tuesday night or by Wednesday or Thursday.

This, no doubt because he was predicted to win both states big. Indeed, even I did so in a column written from South Dakota two weeks ago indicating he was sure to prevail, because Hillary had run no TV ads in the two weeks I was visiting there and also in Montana, whereas Obama's message aired almost every few minutes in both states.

So, what happened? Perhaps in the two weeks since I left she somehow blitzed the airwaves and organized a flurry of activity on her behalf. News of her surge indicating that something was awry in South Dakota must have made its way to the Obama hierarchy, which might have hurriedly telephoned the most likely superdelegates who were on the fence. It's now or never, they may have implored, perhaps never giving up the news that somehow she was about to pull off an eleven point landslide victory in South Dakota. A state Obama was expected to win by a huge margin -- and on top of her more than two to one victory in Puerto Rico on Sunday. The Obama forces needed to head them off at the pass and neutralize the possibility that some of these expert folks might have had second thoughts and reconsidered how well Hillary had done. So, the Obama honchos might have warned that if they didn't come forward now there'd be no special VIP tickets at the convention or the hoped for Inaugural Ball.

Ultimately, Montana voted for Obama by about fifteen points, but unlike South Dakota which was a purely Democratic Primary, Montana's balloting was open to all comers. And a Democratic primary victory where Republicans can vote, I always find suspect.

Meanwhile, when word came of the twenty-six superdelegates in Obama's camp the pundits on CNN were beside themselves and couldn't wait to anoint Obama. Even in spite of the fact that with all the dismissive reports of Hillary's candidacy since March she has won more primaries in bigger states and in a manner that should have made the super delegates seriously question whether the Obama phenomenon was simply that. A manufactured one, built on tenuous victories, many in caucuses in small normally Republican voting states. In fact, CNN's David Gergen admitted that Hillary had won Phase Two of the Primary season, and history has shown us that as it becomes clearer who the nominee will be, those who are not succeeding tend to fade out. They don't continue to eclipse the front runner!

CNN even had the cheek to announce Obama's victory in Montana almost immediately, whereas it took almost an hour for them to declare South Dakota for Clinton, even though her lead stayed approximately the same from the very beginning. And it had the audacity to put his Montana success in almost twice the font size on top of the words announcing her triumph in South Dakota. What kind of fair and balanced reporting is that? Oh, excuse me, those words are normally attributed to the Fox News Channel.

What does all this say? Is this news or is it cheer leading in fact promoting the candidacy of someone it has been promoting all along? No wonder Hillary Clinton refused to concede defeat. Why should she, considering her continuing wins and the upset she pulled in South Dakota, though massively outspent there as she was in West Virginia and other states where she trounced Obama soundly.

Now this may all be too little too late, but it's a statement of the lemming-like mentality of the newscasters, pundits and even the so-called expert superdelegates who, in my view, did not look at the big picture and did not pay proper attention to the huge totals in varied states Hillary amassed all the way to the end, even as the Media put her campaign on life support. Imagine how she would have done and would do in November with their full encouragement?

If the superdelegates had any cajones they'd be calling each other tonight and say, What have we done? There's still time to set this thing right. But they probably won't, because even worse than being wrong they hate to admit they don't know what they're doing.

The big question is will Obama manage to pull it off? I hope so, but if these political masters are the ones behind him it is troubling to even conceive how he will do against the ruthless types who somehow wrested the presidency in 2000 from the rightful winner who got the most votes.

God help us all -- even if we're not religious!

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