Ironic, isn't it? Barack Obama injects himself into the 2008 Presidential Election cycle because he feels a need to "unite" everybody, and the result is a Democratic Party split wide open, at war with itself and on the verge of chaos at its nominating convention this summer that will make Chicago in 1968 look like a game of patty cake. Of course, once that happens, a big loss in the fall is almost certain, and that is disappointing because at one point the party seemed as close to guaranteed victory as it gets in American politics.
No matter which way it is calculated, it has become clear that neither Hillary Clinton nor Obama will be able to reach the magic number of 2,025 delegates needed to secure the nomination outright. With about 3,000 already allocated, The Associated Press reports that fewer than 100 separate the two.
Obama has the lead in total delegates, but big wins for Clinton in Michigan and Florida are not being counted in that total. Yet. They will be, or the party can kiss two of the most important keys to victory in November goodbye.
Obama has prevailed in more individual states and has claimed a slightly higher percentage of the popular vote so far, but Clinton has swept every one of the largest states -- California, New York, Texas and Ohio, in addition to Florida and Michigan. The states she has claimed represent almost twice as many Electoral College votes as all of the smaller states Obama has won.
Another important difference to note is that Obama has been doing well in states that hold caucuses, a venue where public pressure plays a decisive role. Clinton has been much more successful in states that hold primary elections, where private prejudices have more influence. The general election won't include any caucuses.
One week the voters and the media anoint one candidate and shoot the other down, and the next week they reverse it. It has basically been played to a draw, and what that means is that the party's rank-and-file want both of these candidates on the ticket together. It's known as the wisdom of the crowd, and it couldn't be clearer at this point.
Clinton and Obama should come out together before this week is over and announce that they will be the Democratic presidential ticket, in some order, and that the voters in the remaining primary and caucus states will get to decide which order. Both campaigns should agree that the candidate with the most delegates pledged to him or her at the end of the process on June 11, even if it's not the total number needed, will secure the spot at the top of the ticket and the other will become the vice presidential candidate.
Either scenario -- Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton -- would be a surefire winner in the short term for the party and in the long run for the individual candidates. Think of the media buzz over such a unique arrangement and the voter excitement at being a part of the double history about to be made.
If Obama is still ahead in June, Democrats will, in essence, play the promising rookie and bench their Pro Bowl quarterback in the Super Bowl, and then hope that "hope" doesn't pull its all-too-familiar disappearing act on Election Day. History teaches us that hope shows up at rallies, but fear shows up in the voting booth.
If anyone can finally defy history, though, it would certainly seem to be Obama. In that case, Clinton can serve eight years as vice president and then mount a run as an older, Maggie Thatcher-type, only with blood in her veins instead of ice water. No one will be discussing her cleavage then. If Clinton ends up on top and Obama runs as vice president, he will be able to spend eight years learning at the knee of a master and then try again as a seasoned pro in his political prime.
The most important thing is that, by next week, they can be out on the camaign trail again, together, defending and supporting each other instead of tearing each other down and alienating whole segments of their own party. They can both start taking aim at the real target, John "a-hundred-more-years-of-war" McCain and the morally bankrupt and dangerous political forces he represents.
© 2008 Daily Utah Chronicle via U-WIRE