by Rick Rockwell
In the next few days, Obamamania will be focused on Wyoming and Mississippi.
Democrats in Wyoming go to caucuses today and voters go to the polls in Mississippi to decide whom to back in that state’s primary on Tuesday. The frontrunner, Barack Obama, is expected to do well, if not win both contests.
This, of course, will likely renew the debate among Democrats that Hillary Clinton’s big wins last Tuesday were a mere aberration, as the party marches toward another huge showdown in Pennsylvania next month.
Being neither a fan of Sen. Obama (D-IL) nor Sen. Clinton (D-NY) makes it a bit easier to analyze this race: what math teacher would tell you that someone who won 1424 delegates out of a pool of 2944 was an aberration? Folks, this is the definition of a dead heat. Less than 100 delegates separate the candidates and unless Obama wins big in all the remaining states, the race will be decided either at the convention or by the superdelegates before that point. Due to the proportionality rules installed by the Democrats, unless Obama wins states by nearly 80 percent (and that hasn’t happened yet) the primary season ends up as a tie.
But those gripped by Obamamania don’t want to admit that. They don’t want to see the facts.
Perhaps, because Obama’s entire campaign and appeal are not built on facts but rather emotions, that’s to be expected.
Those suffering from Obama Fever think the contest should have been decided already. “When can we get on to vanquishing John McCain?” they ask. This week on its front page, The Washington Post framed the issue just that way: Hillary’s win was going to be a multi-million dollar inconvenience and distraction on Obama’s way to the nomination. As the week wore on though, the newspaper’s editorial board realized, much as this blog has for quite some time, (check here and here for our earlier views on this) that drawing the contest out until the convention is good for democracy. If the media would do their job, a fuller discussion of issues might follow during this extra time, and a longer process allows more voters to take part, instead of having only the states that vote through Super Tuesday make all the decisions. Of course, one of the Post’s prominent columnists E. J. Dionne is still holding on to his position as a cheerleader for Obama and warning Clinton should drop out now for the good of Democrats everywhere.
But the evidence is apparent beginning this weekend that this is good for democracy, if not the party. Name the last time Democrats battling for a presidential nomination rolled into Wyoming fighting for every vote? Or when was the last time Mississippi was so prominent in a campaign? Both Clinton and Obama stumped through Wyoming on Friday and now they are headed back to the Deep South. Their appearances get voters interested. And telling voters that they matter in these states carries a message that resonates.
Of course, as we have seen, Obamamania tends to resonate a bit more than a speech from Mrs. Clinton. Doonesbury has satirized the differences. And stories of Obama rallies often are replete with their comparisons to rock concerts, including the swooning of some in attendance. This is the definition of mania, as some dictionaries tell us is a condition of great excitement, euphoria, delusions, and excessive enthusiasm or desire.
Some Obama followers have commented in this blog about their movement and how those of us who are nonbelievers should find hope: through Obama’s vision we can discover the bipartisan political utopia that awaits us in the future. This rhetoric makes Obama’s movement sound like a religion. Or worse. It makes him sound like a faith healer.
Yes, after seven years of George W. Bush, this country does need plenty of healing. And after the next few days, the Obama momentum will likely get cranked up anew with more states added to his win column. But democracy would be better served if Obama’s followers didn’t treat him as the inevitable untouchable political messiah who should be crowned as the next president. We’ve already had one coronation too many in this country’s recent history.
For more background on the 2008 campaign, please see these archival posts:
- "Did Barack Obama Get the SNL Endorsement?"
- "Super Tuesday & Hillary Clinton's Economic Strategy;"
- "John McCain and the Republican Right;" and
- "Wolf Blitzer: Is Human Rights More Important than American National Security?"
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