Despite Hillary Clinton's three victories tonight in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island, Barack Obama (who won Vermont) is still positioned to capture the Democratic nomination. But Obama has to now overcome the John McCain-Hillary Clinton slash and burn politics to accomplish this goal.
In the remaining primaries Hillary must receive at least 60 percent of the vote to tie Obama in the pledged delegate count. Even with the hypothetical splitting of the Florida and Michigan delegations to Hillary and Obama, Obama will still be ahead in total delegates. The "super delegates" will then be in the position to determine what kind of a convention they really want.
The Obama campaign forced Clinton to spend money and time in Ohio, a state that just a month ago Hillary thought was in the bag. Hillary spent 25 days in Ohio and Obama spent 18 days. Remember, in Nevada, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost in the delegate count. In Florida, Hillary won ZERO delegates but declared a great victory, which was really tacky.
What is at stake in 2008 is whether or not the Democratic Party is willing to move in a new direction. Obama has demonstrated that he can bring out new voters and organize local communities in a way where the Democratic Party can reconnect to its activist roots in movement politics. He is talking about social justice and citizen participation in democracy in a way that defies the moribund Democratic leadership. (Just look at the House Democrats caving in to George W. Bush on telecom immunity.) The Democratic base is demanding courageous leadership brave enough to stand up to Bush and the Republicans. Hillary's scare tactics of national insecurity to foreign invaders mirrors the Bush-Rove fear mongering and is a disgraceful departure from the party's roots in New Deal/Great Society liberalism where the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Obama's campaign is also about cleaning out the Clinton-led Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) from party dominance. Hillary's scorched earth tactics reflect the DLC's Republican-Lite politics, which ultimately gave us the Iraq war. Hillary has unfairly tried to undermine Obama's candidacy and the grassroots movement he represents by characterizing his accomplishments as nothing more than "a speech." This echoes precisely what right-wing mouthpieces have been screeching about Obama all along and gives the Republicans ready-made commercials for the general election. It is potentially very damaging to the party.
Clinton said that she and John McCain had the life experience to be chief executive but Obama just gave "a speech." This statement is just the kind of thing that the racists love to hear: Obama is just a "boy" whose 20 years of public service doesn't stack up to a hill of beans. We should simply discount this man's life's work as humbug. That's a pretty harsh attack directed at a fellow Democrat. And why did Clinton leave it ambiguous in a recent interview whether or not she knew that Obama is a practicing Christian?
The Republicans have driven the country into bankruptcy and war. Hillary Clinton has learned that by playing on people's instincts and emotions and fears she can squeak out victories. The question is: At what cost to the Democratic Party is Hillary willing to press her case and how long will it take the party to determine that Barack Obama is not only the victor in terms of delegates and votes, but that he is also the strongest candidate to take on John McCain in the general election.
(Thanks, once again, to Dr. Stan Oden for his collaboration.)