by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
April 25, 2008
DEMOCRATS READY THE CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- And the winner of the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania is... John McCain.
The long break between the March 11 Democratic primary in Mississippi and Tuesday's vote in Pennsylvania gave Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ample time to hammer away on each other.
The beneficiary of all the fighting was the presumed Republican nominee, McCain. He was able to start his campaign for president weeks ago, getting ready for November while Clinton and Obama traded attacks.
And the hammering will continue. After Tuesday's vote, Obama had a 1,723-1,592 lead in delegates over Clinton, according to the Washington Post tally. Despite Clinton's 55 to 45 percent victory in the popular vote Tuesday, she only garnered 97 delegates to Obama's 78.
The math remains in Obama's favor, and barring a catastrophe, he will still have a majority of the delegates by the end of June. Considering that Clinton had as much as a 20-point lead on Obama in Pennsylvania as recently as a month ago, she lost a chance to significantly cut into Obama's delegate lead.
As has been the case with the other Democratic primaries this year, there was a record turnout in Pennsylvania on Tuesday. More than 300,000 new Democrats showed up at the polls. Since Jan. 1, more than 178,000 voters in Pennsylvania changed their party affiliations and 92 percent of them switched from Republican or independent to Democrat.
Obama is credited with creating the excitement that generated this kind of turnout for the Democrats. Disgust with President George W. Bush also helped. Despite all the supposed controversies of the past six weeks, Obama stands out for not speaking in the sound bites and standard political clichés that candidates are expected to spout. He, more so than Clinton or McCain, seems to grasp that we are entering a moment filled with danger many other possibilities.
We are headed into the worst economic crisis in decades. Our nation's influence on the global stage ebbs by the day. The twin scourges of climate change and peak oil stand poised to smash our way of life as we know it. Clearly, politics as usual is not going to cut it.
But honesty is not allowed in American politics, and people who speak the truth get hammered in the media by those who have a vested interest in making sure things stay as they are. That is why Obama has been attacked with equal vigor by Clinton and McCain.
The next few weeks will be desperate ones for Clinton. In spite of losing 30 of the 45 contests held so far, she thinks she should be the nominee. As we have pointed out in this space, the only way Clinton can win is to sow enough doubts about Obama to force him to drop out. But he has taken all of her best shots so far and remains the frontrunner.
The next contests are in Guam on May 3 and in Indiana and North Carolina on May 6. As many delegates are at stake in those three states as in Pennsylvania. As of now, Obama will likely win North Carolina, while Indiana is leaning toward Clinton. If you thought the last six weeks were nasty and negative, you ain't seen nothing yet.
And McCain gets to sit back and watch the Democrats do what they seem to do best - destroy themselves. That's why Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean wants to see things settled soon, so the party can unite and get ready for November. That, unfortunately, will not happen as long as Clinton insists on putting her ego ahead of her party.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 25 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.