Barack Obama should call for the Florida and Michigan delegations to be seated at the convention -- not as a concession to the Clinton camp or because of pressure but as an outside-the-box show of strength.
The Illinois senator has several things going for him right now: He has what everyone agrees is an insurmountable lead among pledged delegates; he has an imposing lead in total popular vote; and those facts give him this trump: superdelegates -- elected officials and party operators -- are not going coronate Mrs. Clinton in the face of all those advantages without a wildly compelling reason.
Put it another way: The superdelegates won't risk crippling the Democratic party by driving black voters out of it short of a colossal Obama collapse -- like wearing an al Qaeda flag pin while holding rallies with Jeremiah Wright. The Clinton camp has trotted out various arguments -- some quite silly -- for why the superdelegates should nominate her, but the nomination is his to lose.
But there's one argument that needs be addressed: Democrats don't want to go into the fall risking offending voters in a state they need for victory (Michigan) and one they desperately want (Florida).
So here's what Obama should do: Get bigger than the problem. Say that while the arguments against seating the delegations are all valid and helpful to him, as presumptive head of the party he needs to think of its best interests. And right now the Democrats' best interests lie in a united front in the fall. So he'll support the two states' delegations being seated.
Properly presented -- and if Barack Obama is good at anything, it's proper presentation -- it would demonstrate a position of strength.
Here's what would happen:
- The press and bloviators would go wild, entering new paroxysms of ecstasy over his ability to transcend old politics.
- The Clinton camp would be confused -- who knows, maybe they would even oppose seating the delegations out of sheer reactive instinct.
- The numbers would not change dramatically -- Obama would still have an insurmountable delegate lead and a formidable popular vote lead.
- The superdelegates, faced with more Obamamania, would have less room or reason to dislodge Obama.
Crazy? Probably. But it's time for a power play.