Wednesday, April 23, 2008
National Democratic Chairman Howard Dean has a problem. It's the hate spewing forth from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's campaigns that is dividing the Democratic Party and could destroy its chances to take back the White House. He wants the undeclared superdelegates to make up their minds yesterday , certainly well before the August nominating convention, and put one candidate over the top.
In February, I wrote about the options available to the Democratic superdelegates as they individually figure out which candidate to support. I omitted one major element in determining how to decide their vote, and that is pressure from their party leaders. Before the wrenching personal attacks by the candidates escalate to the point where both are so badly damaged that a November win becomes remote, those leaders must intervene.
So, who are they? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have a great deal to lose if the Republicans benefit from a Democratic meltdown at a divided National Convention: Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Pelosi and Reid are the natural leaders -- but can they short circuit the process without making things worse? Neither has yet come forth with an endorsement. After all, they are active politicians who run the risk of alienating a possible future president.
But consider this: Others are! Nobel Laureate and super superdelegate Al Gore could endorse either candidate and thus powerfully influence the as-yet uncommitted superdelegates. Or, if Democratic unity can't be achieved and the presidency barrels toward John McCain, the delegates at the Democratic National Convention might let the warring candidates loose and nominate the former vice president. He has said that the only way he would return to politics would be as a candidate for president. Politics does have strange twists and turns, and hate is destructive.