During this political lull between primaries, the one story that keeps coming back around like a bad cold is the notion that an extended primary race is bad for the Democrats.

I fully believe this story is being pushed by Barack Obama’s people because only they have something to lose by a prolonged campaign. They’d much rather cut the race short and declare a winner now. So, they’re sending out their surrogates to moan and groan to the media that “oh, woe is me, this race is destroying the party.” The media is obligingly pushing this meme because making us worried improves ratings and readership (what common household item that you’re using right now could kill you? Tune in at 11).

The AP gives us a doozy of a story today entitled “Party Fears Tight Obama-Clinton Finish.” Of course, those who are “afraid” are all Obama backers. But that’s not the worst of it, read this:

The chief worry is that Clinton may carry her recent winning streak into Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina and other states, leaving her with unquestioned momentum but fewer pledged delegates than Obama. Party leaders then would face a wrenching choice: Steer the nomination to a fading Obama, even as signs suggested Clinton could be the stronger candidate in November; or go with the surging Clinton and risk infuriating Obama’s supporters, especially blacks, the Democratic Party’s most loyal base.

Some anxious Democrats want party elders to step in now to generate more “superdelegate” support for Obama, effectively choking off Clinton’s hopes before she can bolster them further.

Brilliant! Because Clinton might ultimately prove herself to be the better candidate we need to stop this thing now and hand the nomination to Obama. Only politicians could concoct such logic and only the major media outlets could report on it with such a straight face.

Look, Clinton is NOT trying to sabotage the party despite what Obama supporters want us to believe. She’s running for president and she still has a very legitimate shot thanks to the superdelegates. Her continued involvement is not only logical but probably even beneficial to the party because it keeps Democrats and their ideas as the daily lead story.

I love how, on one hand, Obama is presented as the voice of a new era of politics while, on the other hand, his campaign and supporters are involved in blatant and blatantly old fashioned arm twisting and gamesmanship. His campaign is trying to scare the party into ending the race early. If he can’t even unite his own party without resorting to such cheap tactics, how is he going to unite the nation?

The more I see Obama in action the more I realize he’s no less a typical politician than any other man or woman who’s ever run for president. Sure, he may actually be the most qualified because he is a highly intelligent person with a clear ability to inspire, but anyone who votes for him because they think he will transform politics as we know it is deceiving themselves. The man plays the game extremely well, but he’s not going to be changing the rules.

  • Dr. Saturn

    Yeah, what I can’t get is, if the race going on this long is a problem… why didn’t they make the convention in March or April? They didn’t want all the states voting really early and Obama even supported the punishment of Florida. Yet now they try to act as if it should be done by now. If a “prolonged” race were really an issue, the penalty would have been for holding the primary too late.

  • Lynne B

    Clinton can’t win enough delegates to overtake Obama’s lead. Even if she swept the next 4 primaries she would be behind. Are you suggesting that the DNC is going to give her the nomination even though she is behind? Where is the logic there? As far as blaming Obama for supporting the ‘punishment’ of Fl, that is incorrect. Clinton’s campaign manager voted to exclude Mi & Fl if they kept their early primary dates, and Clinton went on record before those primaries stating that their votes wouldn’t count.
    You may feel that Hillary is the best and strongest candidate, but the math does not give her a realistic chance of winning this.

  • makajuma

    Hillary is position herself for 2012. she is campaigning for John Maccain, while lying to her supporters that she wants the race to continue longer. she has nothing to offer except use race and gender to divide Americans. she so disingenuous that well educated folks are not voting for her.
    She lies about everything and uses fear, whats the deal with John Mccain? She is out to wreak the democratic party and blame it on obama. folks wake up, there is threat of insecure world, global warming, economy in recession, and the only thing we hear is gender, race and lies about snipers.

  • Dick H.

    Amen! Substitute “Slick” for “Highly Skilled.” If Obama gets the nomination, he’s going to make “Slick Willie” look like a piker. And all of his “inspiring rhetoric” about unity, reaching across the aisle, and post-partisan politics would be laughable, if it weren’t so scary. As you said in an earlier post, Alan, all his cut-and-paste liberal policies and programs start so far left he can’t possibly reach far enough to see across the aisle. More importantly, with control of Congress AND the White House, there’s no incentive to “unify” anything, and the new Religious Left will go berserk!

    If this blog really represents Centrists, we’d better start figuring out how to support McCain…….he’s going to need a LOT of it. He has many handicaps (and I don’t mean physical)! If we help give the pendulum another push to the left, it may blow off the fulcrum into outer space, along with the American Dream as it was meant to be.

  • mw

    All true. Of course, for those of us who grew up in Chicago, or understand Chicago politics, there was never any question. Any politician who cut his teeth on Chicago politics and emerged successful, is a politician who deserves respect, but there is no question of whether any differences with other pols are merely one of degree and not of kind.

    Great post, but I am surprised that you did not take the next logical step and call for Obama to quit while he was ahead, cut a deal for the VP, and step aside for the good of the party. OTOH – since you are supporting McCain, perhaps you would prefer to keep Obama in the race dividing the Dems – very sneaky on your part.

  • TerenceC

    It isn’t a question of support – it’s a question of what’s best for the majority of the people of the United States. Are we so programmed that we can only discuss the policies of Dem’s or Rep’s – and then choose sides – and then fight about it? What are the real issues……if you had to design the optimal political platform (irrespective of party) what would it be? Political parties are funded by big business and have a vested interest in keeping that relationship going – so I think they all suck, although some more than others. If I could find someone wiling to run on these 5 items (atleast these 5, there can certainly be more) I would vote for them….

    1 – Anti-war…Not necessarily a pacifist, but a strong believer in keeping our troops home unless an international treaty such as NATO needs to be enacted.
    2 – Willing to take on the Insurance industry and bring to light how we are being taken advantage of as a population – and then force Congress to do something about it.
    3 – Willing to use the presidency as a bully pulpit to completely remove any and all financial (money, dinners, flights, event tickets, everything) gifts for all government employees – elected or not. They can’t even take a glass of water in order to avoid any pretense of impropriety.
    4 – Minimum 5 year moratorium on government employment (including lobbyist activities) for any former member of the military.
    5 – Single payer health care system.

  • I am sure Obama’s troops are behind the encouragement of Hillary to drop out. But I hear an awful lot of this “extended nom fight bad for dem party’s fall chances” from partisan republicans who are openly rejoicing in the extended battle. So it certainly doesn’t see to be the case that the Obama forces are the only ones who find the hypothesis credible.

    The use of the term “just” in your title serves only as a pejorative, that’s the only reason to include it. But to show that Obama is indeed a politician (an easy thing to do!) does not also show that he is precisely like every other or precisely as bad as every other.

    I’m still waiting to see whether Obama modulates his positions after he secures the dem nom. I’m too old to believe in some sort of super-duper transformative Obama presidency. It’s been off the table for me for some time now, and the its continued appearance in soaring rhetoric does not trouble me at all.

    I remain quite comfortable hoping that Obama can deliver a substantial or at least noticeable improvement in tone. That seems doable, and it seems like he can do it. My vote is there for Obama’s taking if he reaches out to the middle once the gen elec arrives.

    I’ve liked McCain a lot, for many years. But at this juncture he seems to me to be too close to being all used up, a figure of last century.

  • Thomas Richards

    Rezko who received a $3.5 million loan from London-based IRAQI billionaire Nadhmi Auchi — a loan that was later forgiven in exchange for shares in a prime slice of Chicago real estate. Rezko gave $700,000 of the money to his wife and used the rest to pay legal bills and funnel cash to various supporters.”

    These Funds from Auchi’s loan helped finance a complex series of transactions between Rezko and Democratic Presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama involving the 2005 purchase of Obama’s Chicago mansion and Rezko’s purchase of an adjoining landlocked parcel.

    Rezko claims he paid “full market price” and Obama apparently received a “discount” of several hundred thousand dollars for his parcel. Rezko then improved his parcel to benefit Obama.

    Instead of handing cash to Obama, Rezko handed Obama a preferential price for property. This is the same form of “honest graft” and preferential treatment that sent former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner to jail over 30 years ago, see United States v. Isaacs, 493 F.2d 1124 (7th Cir. 1974).

    The Chicago Sun-Times recently reported that Mr. Rezko, around the same general period he was wheeling with Obama, also provided a preferential price for a property purchase by U. S. Representative Luis Gutierrez.

    Instead of transferring cash to buy influence, Rezko was engaging in structured property transactions and preferential treatment of public officials to confer significant financial benefits on them, far above the legal limits of any legitimate political contribution permitted by federal law.

    Mr. Tony Rezko who owns a slum landlord business in inner city Chicago is under indictment in Illinois for seeking to extort money from potential state vendors.

    IRAQI billionaire Nadhmi Auchi stills lives in London.

  • Vote Hillary

    You know with the Rezko trial still going on im sure Obama supporters want Hillary to drop out so much time left maybe there worried some more intresting revelations will come out about there canadate,what people should wake up and relize is if Obama wins its a very long time untill november…Mcain will beat him!!! Vote Hillary she is our best hope!

  • Kritter,

    Yep “just” is a pejorative and justifiably used, I believe. But it’s Obama who has decried poltics as usual and promised to not be just another politician — so I feel justified in calling him out on his very politics-as-usual campaign. Just like McCain deserves extra rebuke every time he spins an answer because he’s set himself up as a straight talker. If you’re going to present yourself a certain way, then you better be sure to act that way. Clinton’s campaign is just as much based on politics-as-usual but she’s never decried those tactics — in fact, she’s pretty much presented herself as more capable of using those tactics to win key fights (a questionable claim considering Obama’s out-gaming her).

    As for Republicans being excited about the extended campaign, I think that’s just inside-the-beltway thinking on their part. They think the two candidates will beat each other up or make the Democrats look bad. What they forget is that the vast majority of Americans are not paying close attention and are missing the details. If the Dem convention is the usual scripted affair, most voters will not think any less of the Dems because they took longer to chose a candidate. Plus, they are getting a chance to air dirty laundry now rather than later. The fact that the Rev Wright thing came out now and not October is WONDERFUL for the Dems.

    And the fact that McCain can’t really game-plan effectively until a nominee is chosen is BAD for Republicans. As a McCain supporter, I’m getting really sick and tired of seeing him pushed to the background in favor of Clinton/Obama coverage. Any Republican who thinks this is good news is not thinking straight. But maybe if Obama’s people keep pushing the “it’s destroying the party” meme it will make it true. Gotta be careful with what reality you create.

  • The thing is, in this Democratic nomination campaign the goal posts have been moved so many times by everyone involved, I’m pretty sure no one knows what sport they are playing anymore.

    The media, on the other hand, seems to be content to parrot the Obama message that if he has a single pledged delegate more than Clinton at the end of it all than he has the “moral” right.

    I keep looking for the Democratic bylaw on “moral rights”. If I ever find it I’ll let you know.

    Nice post Alan.

  • My attitude is that Senator Clinton can run as long as she wants. Her name’s on the ballot, and she is a fierce and formidable competitor, and she obviously believes that she would make the best nominee and the best president, and I think that, you know, she should be able to compete and her supporters should be able to support her, for as long as they are willing or able.

    – Barack Obama

  • Dick H.

    TerenceC: I really don’t think “programmed” is relevant, as “choosing sides” and “fight about it” is exactly what we’ve had too much…..and why I’ve moved to the center. But obviously in the voting booth, we are “stuck” with choosing sides. So my point is, I’m a centrist because of the GOP swinging too far right, so the last thing I want is a lock too far left.

    By the way, single payer health care doesn’t sound very Centrist to me.

  • mw

    “By the way, single payer health care doesn’t sound very Centrist to me.” – DH

    Yeah I had a similar reaction reading Terrence’s list, but let it slide.

    Reading it was sort of like this –

    Here is a list of Centrist Principles we can all agree on:

    1) Respect your parents.
    2) Believe in the future.
    3) Enjoy apple pie
    4) Put all means of production in the hands of proletariat, then line the bourgeouis pigs up against the wall and shoot them.

  • TerenceC

    Since the Rep’s have moved so far to the right then where does that put the center? MW’s comments above aren’t exactly serious centrist principles. Surely people who claim to be centrist can suggest 5 items they would like to see in a centrist candidate. SIngle payer healthcare may seem far to the left but really it isn’t. The US is at a competitive disadvantage globally when it comes to good manufacturing jobs as well as growing our small business sector in large measrue because of healthcare costs. SP Healthcare is good for the country – and it’s good for business.

  • Those who think the current system or a subsidized version of it are the only acceptable options simply fail (or refuse) to recognize that the high level decision makers in the corporations involved in it are too far removed from the people receiving treatment to view them as anything but cost centers, not human beings whose lives and health are important. They are abstractions that hurt the company’s bottom line and are dealt with as just that. When your only worry day in and day out is the urgent drive to make the company grow and increase profits it becomes easy to rationalize almost anything in pursuit of that goal and lose sight of what it means to the people whose policies you’re canceling or who can no longer afford the premiums.

    And Terence is right about the damage our current system is doing to our businesses. Every year the small business I work for as to waste many hours looking for a better deal because the premiums are being jacked up so high. One year it was 43%.