Carol Platt Liebau: A Selling Point for Obama

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Selling Point for Obama

Even the most out-of-it Democrats know, or will know soon, that as things stand now, there is likely to be a very tough choice for the superdelegates come the Democratic convention, as this piece by Adam Nagourney points out.

Obviously, it would require some delicacy in how to frame the appeal, but it strikes me that Barack Obama -- now ahead in the delegate count -- could actually use fears of a brokered convention to bolster himself in the states ahead, at least with party faithful, by asking for a large enough margin of victory to put him decisively over the top so that superdelegates aren't in the position of deciding the nominee.

No doubt a populist appeal would be suicide -- how offensive it would be to the party bigwigs for Obama to criticize political decisionmaking by the "backroom dealers"?! But a more respectful approach -- where he appeals to voters to avoid a situation where the "deeply respected" leaders, "following their consciences," aren't "forced" to make decisions "that will divide us" -- might have some resonance.

I know, I know, the best calculations forecast that a situation that requires a decisive choice by the superdelegates may be unavoidable. But it could be a strong argument by Obama nonetheless. Given how hungry Democrats are for victory, it must be excruciating to have to worry that the bitterness of an intraparty split could give the Oval Office again to a Republican. And most crucially, it gives former Clinton people who want to vote for Obama a psycbological fig-leaf ("it's for the good of the party"), so that they can avoid the cognitive dissonance problem that would come with having talked up Hillary and then voted for Barack.


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