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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Democratic Race Is Over

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Even though it is now just one of 11 straight victories for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Wisconsin presidential primary could go down in history as the turning point that secured the Democratic presidential nomination for the nation’s first African- American president.

Obama’s blowout 17-point victory here over New York Sen. Hillary Clinton finally erased any claim Clinton had of greater appeal to significant groups of voters in America. In previous contests around the country, Obama already had been running far ahead of Clinton among young voters, college-educated voters, African-American voters, white male voters and working professionals making more than $50,000 a year.

In Wisconsin, Obama continued to dominate those groups, but he also added blue collar voters, Latino voters and, in a stunning shift, ran even with Clinton among white women. Although African-American and Latino voters were not a major factor in blindingly white Wisconsin, their support for Obama was among his highest for any demographic groups yet. Obama took more than 90% of the black vote statewide and, on the South Side of Milwaukee, swept one voting district with a large Latino population by more than 90% as well.

Just about the only remaining voters who prefer Clinton over Obama are white women over 60. That’s a pretty slim reed on which to hang presidential hopes, especially since the Republicans are poised to nominate septuagenarian John McCain, the heartthrob of any nursing home, hands down.

The support for Obama is so undeniably broad that all the usual insults political supporters try to use to denigrate voters on the other side sound ridiculous. In Ohio, a union official introducing Clinton crudely attempted to smear Obama supporters as “latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust-fund babies.”

Oh, like those latte-drinking Teamsters, who just endorsed Obama? Do all those union households and African Americans in Milwaukee really have secret trust funds we haven’t been told about? Does the white, working class of Green Bay wear Birkenstocks with their Packers jackets?

Signs of Desperation
Since Wisconsin, Clinton herself has been totally baffled as to how to run against Obama. She showed up at the debate in Texas last week as Sybil. Clinton’s multiple personalities swung violently back and forth from being honored to be on the same stage with Obama to attacking him as a glib fraud who had no right to share the stage with her.

Obama obliterated Clinton’s attacks on his eloquence as an insulting suggestion that millions of voters were “delusional” and that when they woke up they would somehow realize she was the best candidate. Still, Clinton foolishly persisted with the charge that Obama had plagiarized by using lines in a Milwaukee speech suggested to him by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, his national campaign co-chair. The audience wasn’t having it—and when you are in a make-or-break political debate, it’s never good to draw boos.

Since then, Clinton’s campaign has taken even stranger turns. Speaking in Ohio, she claimed to be absolutely outraged that Obama had sent mailings tying her to NAFTA, the unpopular trade agreement championed by her husband, and criticizing her universal health care plan.

“Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?” Clinton asked. Well, since Clinton began months ago attacking Obama on universal health care in nearly every speech, claiming his plan would leave out 15 million Americans.

The Clinton campaign, which in Iowa forwarded a hoax e-mail falsely accusing Obama of being a Muslim, has begun circulating a picture in Ohio of Obama dressed in traditional Kenyan garments on a trip to Africa in 2006. One possible interpretation in white, Midwestern Ohio is that there is something terribly African and possibly un-American about Obama.

The angry, flailing Clinton campaign reflects desperation. She’s falling further and further behind in delegates. Obama’s supporters used to worry about Superdelegates undoing the will of the voters by throwing their support behind Clinton despite Obama’s growing lead in states won, elected delegates and the popular vote. But the Superdelegates— Democratic members of Congress, governors, mayors and party activists—have to face election themselves in their states.

Not only could going against the voters be political suicide, but it would undoubtedly create an angry split in the Democratic Party that would blow the Democrats’ perfect opportunity to recapture the White House following the disasters of the Bush presidency at home and abroad.

Superdelegates already have started to move to Obama. The movement will become a tsunami as it becomes clear that Clinton cannot pick up enough delegates in Ohio or Texas on March 4 to slow Obama. After that, the party will not want Clinton continuing to try to inflict damage on Barack Obama, the most exciting nominee the Democratic Party has had in decades.

Clinton will drop out of the race shortly after March 4.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.

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