Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 17:39 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 17:39 | SYDNEY

Obama vs Clinton: How about they flip for it?


Michael Fullilove


10 March 2008 12:57

Well, isn't this a delicate pickle? The Democratic Party has two extremely strong candidates for its presidential nomination, Senators Obama and Clinton. Either would make history as a nominee, let alone as president of the United States. Each appeals to different constituencies: Obama to upscale voters and African-Americans as well as independents and Republicans; Clinton to working-class punters, Democratic lifers and older women. Obama has a persistent lead in the delegate count and the popular vote, but Clinton is no slouch in either department and has more of the momentum just at the minute. Obama has won more states but Clinton has won bigger states. Obama has remarkable political talents; Clinton is tougher than a Gurkha.
The real problem is this: for the foreseeable future, neither candidate has enough delegates to win, and both candidates have too much support to quit. Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Senator McCain, is planning his general election campaign, including a fundraising blitz, a 'bio tour', just in case there's anyone who hadn't realised he was a POW in Vietnam, and a 'commander-in-chief tour' to meet with leaders in Europe and the Middle East. (Not that the Democratic stoush is necessarily all good news for the GOP: let's see how often McCain makes page one in the next few months.)
So how will the Dems resolve their impasse? Leaving aside resorting to games of chance, there seem to be three possibilities. The first is what British PM Harold Macmillan summed up as 'events'. Either candidate might slip up badly (mistakes from surrogates such as Samantha Power will never be decisive), or damaging information might emerge about some aspect of their lives that sets off a destructive chain reaction. Second, very senior party elders could intervene in a decisive way. DNC chief Howard Dean does not have the standing for the job, but if Senator John Edwards and Vice-President Al Gore were to weigh in, that could well be different. As I argued a month ago, the role of the Goreacle could be pivotal. The third, and most likely, outcome, is that the fight goes all the way to the convention in Denver and the 800-odd superdelegages — mainly elected officials — have the casting vote. But for a party still furious about the manner of George W. Bush's victory in 2000, for a party so focused on internal democracy that it awards delegates on a proportional rather than a winner-takes-all basis, for a party that calls itself the Democratic Party, that could appear to be a very undemocratic way of choosing its candidate for president of the United States.

Photo by Flickr user nata2, used under a Creative Commons licence.