Politics always is crazy. But the way the Democratic Party is choosing it's presidential candidate – that's beyond crazy.
I know, because I'm being driven insane trying to figure out what the delegate count is between Obama and Clinton. Obama's my man, so I'm pumped by how well he's done in the most recent primary contests.
But when I check CNN's Election Center just now, oh no!, I see in a big bold-face font that Clinton is still leading Obama, 1148 to 1121. (This even includes today's Maine results.)
Then I read the fine print breakdown. And see that actually Obama has 986 pledged delegates and Clinton 924. Clinton leads only in superdelegates, 224 to 135.
Who aren't at all "super."
They're Democratic Party functionaries. They can change their mind at any moment. And their preference for president shouldn't get more play in the press than the votes of more than 14 million people who have participated in Democratic primaries and caucuses so far.
Yet many news organizations include some of the 797 superdelegates in delegate totals for Clinton and Obama. CNN tallies 359. A week or so ago the NY Times had deduced the preference of 303.
I wish these not-so-superdelegates would shut their mouths for the moment. Every single one should be saying, "I've haven't made my mind up yet."
Because these unpledged delegates aren't supposed to be deciding who's going to be the Democratic candidate come November. Their job is to give the frontrunner, after all the primaries are over, a clear cut margin of victory at the convention.
At least, that's the informed opinion of Tad Devine, Walter Mondale's delegate counter in 1984, who says "Superdelegates, Back Off."
The superdelegates were never intended to be part of the dash from Iowa to Super Tuesday and beyond. They should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.
The party's leaders and elected officials need to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama, the two remarkable candidates who are locked in an intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
If the superdelegates determine the party's nominee before primary and caucus voters have rendered a clear verdict, Democrats risk losing the trust that we are building with voters today. The perception that the votes of ordinary people don't count as much as those of the political insiders, who get to pick the nominee in some mythical back room, could hurt our party for decades to come.
Absolutely. I heard Obama say that whoever is ahead in delegates after June 7, when the last primary is held, should get the votes of the superdelegates.
Makes great sense.
As Devine says, the last thing the Democratic Party needs is a drawn-out nominating process that drags into the convention, where the country would be "treated" to (or disgusted by) the sight of back room deals harking back to my memories of how candidates were selected in the not-so-good-old days of the 60's and 70's.
What's bizarre about all this is that the Democratic primaries assign delegates proportionally, which is wonderfully, well, democratic. Every vote counts, in contrast to a winner-take-all approach where the preference of 49.9% of voters can be ignored.
Yet the superdelegates have the power to ignore not the will of a minority, but the majority.
Millions upon millions of fired-up Obama supporters could put him clearly in the delegate lead on June 7, but lacking the few delegates he needs to win the nomination outright.
It'd be a travesty, shades of the Supreme Court giving the presidency to George Bush in 2000, if a few hundred politicos overturned the will of millions of primary voters and caucus goers.
(On the delegate tracking front, the Obama campaign has a clearly laid out Results Center. It seems accurate and dare I say it, conservative, since so far the states who voted on February 9 and 10, all Obama victories, haven't been factored in. It has: Obama 910, Clinton 882.
A Daily Kos diary today did a yeoman's job of assembling delegate counts from major news organizations and factoring them into a up to date consensus estimate. Bottom line: Obama 1028, Clinton 948.)