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As Long as We Remember...

March 4, 2008

Real "Super Tuesday"

Roy Meachum

Pundits and people alike figured the Democratic presidential primaries would be all over after last month's "Super Tuesday." But today we face another Tuesday that shapes up even more "super."


Like that earlier Wednesday, do not wake up tomorrow and anticipate the media to satisfy the national curiosity. Even a smashing sweep by Barack Obama does not guarantee Hillary Clinton will fold her campaign tents and "silently steal away."


The lady's husband, the former president, stated she had to win big tomorrow to keep her candidacy alive. That was merely his professional opinion and totally not binding on his wife. For Mrs. Clinton, this is a do-or-die year.


Holding a U.S. Senate seat scarcely counts; seemingly "everyone" knew moving into Congress's upper house was but a step closer to what she really wanted – a glorious return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This time on her own.


The image of Bill Clinton as the First Spouse offends both my logic and a sketchy knowledge of the man. As president he enjoyed the right to scatter his cigar ashes all over the President's Mansion, as the White House matchbook once proclaimed. Sitting on the Oval Office's "throne," his wife would have the power to order him to clean up the mess.


Hillary Clinton, if elected, might be willing and able to forget the way her husband mucked up loyalty that African Americans "owed" her candidacy. Their roles' reversal almost certainly guarantees the absence of domestic tranquility.


Her husband's opinion on when she should withdraw from the race easily could be flouted for the sake of personal independence. Viewing their eight years in the mansion, she would be entirely justified if she cut him no slack.


Barring another Obama secret uprising, as happened 11 times in a row, this Super Tuesday looks doomed to be a virtual draw.


Winning states is less important than corralling delegates; there are 370 Democratic convention openings up for grabs today. Texas (193) and Ohio (141) are more important, but Rhode Island (21) and Vermont (15) cannot be ignored, in a tight contest.


The official count from today’s vote could take days, even weeks. In addition to the traditional glitches, there's a new federal law that has already caused havoc in states like New Mexico and Arizona. The problem stems, chiefly, from registering Latino names that have totally different structure than Europeans'.


However much the latest round of voting mires her campaign, Senator Clinton has the capability of taking her sweet time. She could decide she was close enough to continue the struggle. In any event, she has already lost.


How different her political world even before Christmas when she had the great cool created by the certainty she would be the first of her gender in the Oval Office.


Not only a tenet of her faith, she boasted of the "fact" on talk shows and TV interviews. Her campaign's "high priest" was even stronger in announcing the inevitability of Mrs. Clinton's taking over her husband's old job.


Partially that attitude makes abandoning her dream difficult to the point of impossible. With lesser intelligence and more practicality, almost anyone else in her position certainly would have dropped out when opponent Obama's unbroken string of victories reached 10.


The fly in her logical soup probably lies with her abundance of super-delegates who were not elected by party members but appointed because of their positions.


As I wrote earlier, the added layer, which resembles the Electoral College, was created, in 1982, because party bosses were aghast at having Jimmy Carter in the White House. Indications are they thought it should be one of their own; at least of their choosing.


As Democratic "wise men and women" they firmly believed the party belonged to them. Her membership in that elite, through her husband, endowed Mrs. Clinton and her campaign with qualities totally inimical to democratic principles and practices. She has been charged with talking down to audiences, for years.


The senator from Illinois is politically a maverick who frightens the "wise" by threatening to go all the way. If next January 20 finds Mr. Obama gliding down Pennsylvania Avenue, he will "owe," in any sense, zilch to the party's presently anointed. And it could be too late for anything to be done.


Almost completely unknown last spring, Senator Obama has emerged as this generation's real-life Senator Deeds. In the movie, Jimmie Stewart triumphed over the corrupt establishment.


In some minds, the senator from Illinois appears another Jimmie Stewart. But he might not be. While no definitive answer can be expected tomorrow, there will be strong signs by the morning. Maybe more.


One way or the other, as a variety of pundits has pronounced, this presidential elections goes into the books. The big turnouts shape up as a record.


Barack Obama's promise to change Washington may be an even bigger story. We'll see.


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