Panic on 15th Street

Fresh off his willfully ignorant hit piece on John McCain’s position on taxes, the Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman (this time joined by Matthew Mosk) turns his attention to the other obstacle to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. The thesis of their piece is that Hillary Clinton’s candidacy may well produce “a racial divide” that “could do lasting harm” to the Democratic party.

Weisman and Mosk, in essence, turn their front-page story over to black Democratic politicians who warn of dire consequences if the party dares to nominate Clinton, and who whine that concerns about Clinton’s popularity among white Democrats are somehow demeaning to blacks. Jeremiah Wright even gets to air his grievance, namely the fact that his words are played frequently on television.

In the final paragraphs of the story, Weisman and Mosk note that, in March, many Clinton donors began contributing to Obama (that was around the time that Obama was winning eleven straight contests). A few of these wealthy donors are then quoted to the effect that they’d like to see Clinton drop out and Obama become the nominee. The article also comes with a chart noting how Clinton’s lead among super-delegates has narrowed since December.

What’s missing from the story is any discussion of why super-delegates as a group haven’t yet acceded to the demands of black politicians and rich white donors that they throw their weight behind Obama and end this painful race. The answer is that the super-delegates are folks who run for office themselves. Thus, they cannot be unmindful of Obama’s seeming lack of popularity among key groups of white voters, even if recognizing this problem may offend Obama’s black supporters or the Washington Post. These individuals understand the damage that rejecting Obama might cause the party, but they are also concerned that nominating him might also harm the party and (more to the point) themselves. Thus, they want to use the time they have to weigh these competing concerns. To read the Weisman-Mosk piece, you’d think there was nothing to weigh.

Obama himself has said he’s okay with the process. He declares, “I never believe in irreparable breaches. . . .Come August, there will be a whole lot of people standing on a stage with a lot of baloons and confetti raining down on the Democratic nominee, and people are going to be excited about taking on John McCain.” The Washington Post is less patient.


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