THE BLOG
03/27/2008 08:38 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Pelosi Should Recant, then Zip It Up on Pumping Obama

Thankfully someone stepped in and told Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep her mouth shut and butt out of the battle between Obama and Clinton over the superdelegates. That came from a group of top Clinton backers in a letter in which they demanded that Pelosi retract her hector of superdelegates to back Obama. The only thing wrong with their letter is that they took so long to write it. Pelosi popped off a week ago and sternly warned the superdelegates that they risked a palace revolt at the Democratic convention if they defied "the will of the people" and handpicked a nominee.

Pelosi's silly saber rattle had to rank as one of the most asinine lapses of judgment, common sense, not to mention political ethics by a top Democrat in recent memory. The rationale, if it can be called such, is this. Obama leads Clinton in the number of pledged delegates he's netted. Therefore, the superdelegates should slavishly fall in line and nominate him.

The checklist of things wrong with this would fill up a thick political primer. Here's just a few of them. There are still a half dozen primaries left and that includes the big, crucial and must win Pennsylvania primary April 22. The vote there won't even be close. Polls, surveys, and voter statements show that Obama will go down to a crushing defeat and if Clinton as expected picks up the bulk of the 128 delegate votes from her primary victory there she'll be in a virtual statistical dead heat with Obama in the number of pledged delegates. Even without the Pennsylvania win and despite the shrill drum beat calls from the rabid Hillary haters for her to stand down, their empty shout at her that it's impossible for her to win, and their slander that she's wrecking the party with her obstinate refusal to bow to Obama, she's less than five percentage points behind Obama in the number of pledged delegates. That's hardly a resounding mandate from the majority of delegates for Obama.

Here's another. Many of the superdelegates had committed or pledged to back Clinton before Obama's magical appearance on the national political scene. Pelosi almost certainly sans Obama would have been one of them.

Here's another. The superdelegates have the responsibility not just too blindly cheer lead a candidate because of his fleeting momentary, and always ephemeral popularity but to make a hard headed political assessment of which Democrat has the best chance to beat the GOP guy. Clinton's vote demographics among core Democrats are rock solid. She's backed by older women, Latinos, blue collar workers, and party regulars. Recent polls even show that she even has the backing of nearly one fourth of African-American voters.

She has won both the big states and the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida, and soon Pennsylvania. Without them, no Democrat has a prayer of winning the White House. Polls show that in a head-to head face off with McCain, Clinton is in a statistical dead heat with him while Obama slightly trails him.

Here's yet another. The superdelegates are supposed to be the firewall to insure electability. Though Pelosi apparently confused that with Obama's media celebrity and his popular aura, it's anything but. The superdelegates, even if Pelosi can't, are supposed to be able to tell the difference between the two.

Then there's Pelosi herself. She is a superdelegate and she has not publicly committed to back either Obama or Clinton. That's fine so far. She's also the House majority leader and that means that she's supposed to be a neutral and impartial political arbiter and broker for the Democratic Party's interests in Congress. That also entails working with and unifying the discordant factions among the Democrats. In her naked Obama tilt badger of the super delegates she forgot all of that and became a partisan political hatchet woman for Obama.

The hard headed and strong willed Pelosi will probably do the wrong thing and ignore the demand that she recant her biased admonition to the superdelegates to get on board the Obama train. However, if she's got any political sense, or sense period, she'll at least zip it up, stop trying to massage things for Obama and let the superdelegates do their job and that's to pick the candidate that has the best chance to beat McCain. Right now, neither Pelosi, nor any other top Democrat, can say with certainty which one that is.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).