Despite the disappointments of this week, if you think about it, the GOP is in much better shape than it might seem. Of course, depending on how much you object to a McCain presidency, what I am about to sketch out may seem like winning first prize in the proverbial contest where “first prize (is) a week in Philadelphia, second prize, a month in Philadelphia.”
It may be that we have grave reservations about the man who is all but officially the GOP nominee. It may be that some of us have been kind of depressed about the choices. But the other side, with their two very strong candidates, is in worse trouble. If Clinton and Obama continue on the way they are going there is no reason to think that either of them will get the necessary number of delegates by June 7th. Everyone over there is doing the math now, too, and they are worried.
Yesterday Party Chairman Howard Dean reassured Democrats that, if there is no clear winner, the party’s 795 superdelegates — elected officials — would make sure things were sorted out. Nancy Pelosi would run that show, which is quite a bit of power for the somewhat ineffectual Speaker to be handed. That possibility led major political strategist Donna Brazile to (be the first to) threaten, on national TV, that she would leave the Democratic party, if “insiders pick the nominee.” I guess she doesn’t think her man would get the nod.
Indeed, even if either Clinton or Obama wins the necessary number of delegates, and, therefore the nomination — precisely because each is so strong with his/her constituents, the losers’ constituents may well be aggrieved enough to …yes… stay home. A lot of newly energized black voters may be bitter, as will many older women.
So — stick with me here — the greatest irony of all is that in the year of identity politics, white and Hispanic Democratic men will hold the balance of power in the Democratic race. And who knows what they think. Some obviously like one or the other candidate. Some will have to decide whether they find it more objectionable to be governed by a black man or a white woman. And, because they may not love their own candidate, and because our candidate isn’t conservative enough to alienate them, those disgruntled white and Hispanic men will find John McCain a very acceptable alternative. And a vote is a vote, positive or negative.
And, to gild the lily here, the time tested conventional wisdom in American politics is that the party that picks its nominee first — and coheres around him/her — wins. So maybe this is a new age, Zen election where we must accustom ourselves to the strength in weakness, and weakness in strength.