Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Charlie Cook on "bittergate"

Excerpts from National Journal Group pundit Charlie Cook’s column today on “bittergate" are in italics; my comments are in plain.

… Alone, this incident is hardly enough to derail Obama's nomination. It would take much more than that. While Obama's delegate lead over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is not large, it is very difficult to overcome given how few states are left to vote, how hard it is to close a gap under the Democrats' proportional representation system and that the remaining undecided superdelegates hardly seem ready to march lock step into the Clinton column.

It doesn't mean this isn't costly and doesn't hurt Obama in a general election. Even a cursory look at the national and state-by-state polling shows that voters are predisposed to vote Democratic and vote for change this year. But swing voters have to be comfortable with the change they are asked to make.

For undecided voters being asked to support a 46-year-old black man with a relatively thin résumé on the national or statewide level, this kind of story does not make them comfortable. …

8I think Sen. Obama’s “cling to” God and guns remarks would hurt any presidential candidate. I don’t see where race has much to do with it. But then I don’t agree with Sen. Kerry that Obama’s race will be an advantage in his dealing with moderate Muslims should he become President.

... For Clinton, the odds are the incident is too late to save her candidacy. But more Bittergates would increase her chances of drawing enough support in the April 22 Pennsylvania primary to justify, or even guarantee, her continued run.

There are likely to be more gaffes for each of the candidates as this campaign progresses, but in a race like this, each one is exceedingly costly and, cumulatively, can become fatal. As of now, I still believe that Obama has about a 95-percent chance of clinching the Democratic nomination.

The only way Clinton can win is to get enough pledged delegates through the remaining primaries and caucuses so that superdelegates can perceive the race as a virtual tie and vote for her.

However, the window for that is pretty much closed.

She can't win the remaining contests by sufficiently large-enough margins to appreciably close the gap, and superdelegates appear to be breaking more toward Obama. So again, short of a Rev. Jeremiah Wright-level embarrassment visiting Obama each week for four or five more consecutive weeks, this thing is over. …

I wonder if “this thing” is as “over” as Cook thinks.

I’d be surprised if a lot of uncommitted superdelegates aren’t shaking their heads and wondering about Obama.

I’d also be surprised if many Obama delegates – super and otherwise - aren’t doing the same thing.

I don’t know how this race will finally shake out, but I’ll say this: Obama's committed delegate numbers may not have changed much in the past five days, but I'll bet the strength of the commitment of many of them has softened.

That could be very significant in the coming weeks. It may not take four or five weeks with a Rev. Wright-level embarrassment each week to turn some Obama delegates and get some uncommitted ones thinking about someone else. Just one Wright-level embarrassment might do it.

Meanwhile, as Obama seeks to minimize the effects of his self-inflicted damage, he's lucky to have Sen. Clinton's self-inflicted damage working for him.


Anonymous said...


"I’d be surprised if a lot of uncommitted superdelegates aren’t shaking their heads and wondering about Obama."

Good assessment.


Anonymous said...

What if the Democrat party bosses decide that Mr. Obama has too much baggage to win the general election and they decide to nominate Rodham? The supporters of Mr. Obama are not likely to take that sitting down when it's obvious that he has won the nomination fair and square. Would we see inner cities in flames like 1968? Would the far-left of the Democrat party sit out the election thereby allowing McCain to win? The division within the Democrat party could be the most damaging thing to happen to the party in decades. Republicans must be licking their chops in anticipation. We Libertarians consider McCain to be the lesser of two evils, but only by a hair's breadth. Got my popcorn all ready. Heh heh.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

While Obama and Hillary attack, misspeak, stumble and explain gaffes, McCain is appearing to be MUCH more "Presidential", and this perception can go a long way when people on the fence are punching their ballot.

Anonymous said...

John -

As I said in a previous comment, Obama's inexperience is showing. He is beginning to commit one gaffe after another. The Democrat convention may prove to be a very interesting convention if Ms. Clinton can pull off a win in Pennsylvania.

Oh - and Tarheel Hawkeye - I knew there was a kindred spirit there. Although I am not a Libertarian (in the sense of being a member of the Libertarian Party) I think I am a classical liberal, in the 19th century sense of the term (and that is close to being a libertarian).

Jack in Silver Spring

Anonymous said...

Iraqi born Rezko is Obama’s friend of 17 years and a well known mob figure.

Rezko served on Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign finance committee and raised more than $14 million, according to Federal Election Commission records, helping send Obama to Washington in 2004.

The Chicago Sun Times reports: ‘As state senator Barack Obama wrote letters to city and state officials supporting his political patron Tony Rezko's successful bid to get more than $14M from taxpayers to build apartments’.

Obama told the Chicago Tribune that, in all the years he's known Rezko, "I've never done any favors for him.''

How does Obama get away with this? Where is the media on this unbelievable topic?

Posted on Boston Globe blog by Bobby Alexson

Anonymous said...

Jack in Silver Spring: I, too, count myself a "classic" liberal. That was before the leftist ideologues hijacked liberalism and made it into something truly obscene. Yes, I believe we are kindred spirits as I read your posts. Carry on, my friend.
Tarheel Hawkeye