By Ray Hanania — I voted for Hillary Clinton in the Illinois Democratic Primary. At the time, I wasn’t sure who Barack Obama really was. I know Hillary from her years as First Lady and later as a New York Senator. She is formerly from Illinois. Obama was an obscure State Senator from the South Side who somehow managed to become a speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and a U.S. Senator. Although I have been impressed on and off by his skills as an orator, I am not exactly sure what it is he brings to the table other than what everyone keeps telling me is “change.”The past seven years of the administration of President George W. Bush has been troubling – his actions in Iraq may bring him war crimes charges in an international court – the past six months of the Democratic primary elections has been troubling for me in a different way.
I didn’t like the long primary season. It started January 3 in Iowa, and just ended last night in Montana and South Dakota. Although McCain has won the title of “presumptive” Republican party nominee when all of his challengers quit the race, Obama claimed the same title for himself this week, and I am not sure if I agree.As far as I am concerned, the contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is not yet over. And if it is forced to end now, I am not quite sure I can say with certainty that I will vote for Obama.
It just doesn’t sit well at all.
The Democratic Convention is not until late August, more than two months away.
Obama leads Clinton in official pledged delegates, 1764.5 for Obama and 1637.5 for Clinton. Both are shy of the 2,118 needed to win.
There are also the so-called “super” delegates, which is the unofficial name for delegates who are “unpledged,” meaning that instead of being elected, they were appointed to their roles by the political insiders. There are 823 of them.
As far as I know, according to the Democratic Party rules, unpledged delegates are not wedded to any candidates until that Democratic Convention is convened.
In other words, an unpledged or “super” delegate can change his or her mind today, tomorrow and next week. No matter what they say today as they are hounded by the news media, their vote does not really count until they are called to account at the convention.
The truth is, Obama does not have the official delegate count to claim a victory. And Hillary Clinton still has two months to change the minds of the apparently easy-to-change minds of the politically anointed “unpledged” delegates.
And what might make them change their mind?
Well, for one thing, Hillary Clinton may not have the majority of the pledged delegates, but she sure does have a near tie in American votes.
With so many troubling problems caused by the manner in which the Democratic Party acted this past year, there are many ways to count votes.
When you count all the votes cast, according to several web sites like RealClearPolitics.com, Obama and Clinton have almost evenly divided the votes, with 17 millions plus votes each. Some estimates have Obama leading with between 21,000 to 131,00 votes, and others have Clinton leading with between 41,000 and 300,000 votes.
I don’t care if every smoke-filled room appointed “super” delegate embraces Barack Obama or not, the fact is Obama just barely has half of the Democratic Party on his side.
And that means Hillary Clinton is still a player in the Democratic Party and what she has to say still counts.
It isn’t like Obama walked away with the nomination at all. If he had even 54 percent of the pledged delegates, which would have locked in the party’s nomination without the backdoor interference of the “super” delegates, and a significantly larger popular vote, I’d say the game is over. Hillary, get out.
But it’s not over. And to force Hillary Clinton to quit is a slap in the face of every single American voter who cast a vote for her candidacy.
This isn’t about race. And it isn’t about gender either. It is about issues and it is about insuring that the candidate who represents the Democratic Party really represents the Democratic Party.
It is also about who has the strength to defeat John McCain in November.
I would have said both candidates could defeat McCain in November is McCain were really a George Bush clone. But McCain isn’t a George Bush clone. He’s a Republican, but he is a moderate Republican.
In other words, if the presidential contest comes down to Obama and McCain, and McCain were to distance himself from the fanatics in the Republican Party, he might not be so bad.
Obama might not be so bad either, if he had a clear vote majority. He might not be so bad if he didn’t have a circus freak show of loud mouthed extremists screaming stupid talk into the cameras like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger.
I happen to be Palestinian American. And while Wright said some things about the need to recognize the rights of Palestinians, I don’t need a fanatic to scream those rights. Palestinians need moderates to start talking about those rights. It doesn’t help that issue to have his extremist rhetoric dragging down good causes.
More importantly, I still don’t know what Obama really stands for. Change? Change is something that is a certainty, even with McCain.
While McCain will have to think long and hard about his friendships with the likes of Pastor John Hagee and his failure to have quickly distanced himself from Bush’s failed policies, Obama will also have to think long and hard about what he plans to do to win over the hearts and minds and votes of half of the Democratic Party voters who did not vote for him and who voted for Hillary Clinton instead.
One solution is for Obama to offer Clinton the vice presidential spot.
I can say with certainty, that is a ticket I can support. And even if she turns him down, she will be cutting my loyalty loose to support Obama, with the insistence that he follow through with real programs, real answers and real change, not just the rhythmic sweet talk that frankly has been sounding a bit too repetitive over the past few months.
Obama needs to change his change if he plans on winning.
It only takes 50 percent plus one vote to win any nomination. Obama may win that come the Democratic convention.
But if he wants to gain 100 percent of the backing of the Democratic party, he’ll need to do a lot more than he has.
We “all” (Obama and Clinton supporters) may be “Democrats.” But the fact is Republicans and Democrats are all “Americans,” too.
The “50 plus 1 vote” principle in his Democratic Party contest with Hillary Clinton may make Barack Obama the party’s nominee. But it doesn’t make him the winner. At least not yet.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and author of the new book “The Catastrophe: How extremists have hijacked the Palestinian Cause.” He can be reached at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
Categories: Middle East Topics