There is a bizarre, and even tragic, unreality to the continuing drama playing out in the Democratic primary. Partly due to the seven-week gap between the first 42 contests and this week's match-up in Pennsylvania, and partly due to the tenacity and temerity of the Clintons, this election is being presented as close and not yet over.
But it is over.
Dragging it out any longer only serves to indulge the Clintons' narcissism, while damaging the Democratic party's chances for victory in November. A few observations:
First: The numbers are clear: Clinton cannot surpass Obama's elected delegate total in the contests that remain. It is not unlike a fifty-two lap motor race. In the first forty-three laps, Obama has passed her twice, and built up a lead that is insurmountable. Now, in the midst of the 44th lap, it only appears to be close, but it is not. The only way she could possibly win is either by changing the rules of the game in Michigan and Florida, or convincing a substantial number of superdelegates to cast their ballots for her -- overturning the results of the elections to date. Either of these two scenarios would cause a devastating upheaval within the party, bringing on what I call a "1968 moment."
Second: There is no doubt that the Democratic base has been energized by this election. The record number of voters, volunteers, and contributors point to this fact. But, at the same time, it is important to acknowledge that real damage is occurring within the Democratic constituency. Polls that show a growing fracture within the Democratic coalition should be read as cautionary signs to be heeded. Those Beltway pundits and party regulars who say "Don't worry, after the convention, Democrats will come together" are out of touch with the real damage that has been done in the minds of voters on both sides of the divide.
Early on, Senator Obama spoke eloquently about the degree to which cynicism had infected our politics, resulting in voters no longer believing what politicians have to say. Only those who did not understand his message, or heed the lesson he sought to teach, can believe that Hillary and Bill Clinton will be easily able to undo the negativity they have created. Some voters will surely ask, "Were they lying then, or are they lying now?"
Third: There is no doubt that Senator Clinton is a talented and an extraordinarily intelligent person. Her tragic flaw is her belief that only she is capable of leading. It is this that has caused her to engage in an effort to demean her opponent and engage in the kind of campaign that she once decried as "the politics of personal destruction." It is this that I call her narcissism, and the degree to which it has damaged not only the Democratic chances in November, but also her reputation -- defines the pathological self-destruction that so often follows from narcissistic behavior
This has gone on too long, and should end now. Former President Clinton has argued that all the states should be given a chance to vote. They should have that chance. And, if this campaign were focused on issues and a debate over competing visions of leadership, I would say, "Let it continue."
But this has not been the case. Given the behavior of the Clinton campaign to date, and the expectation this behavior will continue, I believe that prolonging this agony will only create deeper division. For this reason, it should end now.
My fellow superdelegates should wait no longer. As party leaders, we are uniquely positioned, and have the responsibility, to speak out. Indecision only serves to enable bad behavior. It is time for us to either demand that the behavior change, or act to end this now.