by Todd Beeton, Thu May 22, 2008 at 02:31:21 AM EDT
I wasn't around a television Tuesday night so I didn't get a sense at all of how the speeches played or what the media was obsessing over in its coverage of election night. So it was interesting to read this from Poblano on Wednesday:
Last night, Barack Obama clinched a majority of pledged delegates excluding Florida and Michigan, as well as under certain Florida/Michigan scenarios. But, in spite of a big win in Oregon and a well-executed speech in Iowa, the milestone did not quite produce the sense of euphoria and closure that his campaign might have been after. The circumstances of the day -- Hillary Clinton's overwhelming margin of victory in Kentucky, the late hour at which Oregon ballot boxes closed, the subdued tone of the evening necessitated by Senator Kennedy's diagnosis, and some relatively effective pushback from the Clinton campaign on the pledged delegate metric -- conspired to prevent that.
Notice the loaded language..."clinched"..."conspired"...he sounds like he actually thinks a majority of pledged delegates means something concrete as opposed to merely psychological. I mean, the Obama talking point was successful to a point; it got covered by traditional media as though it meant something real and even confused NPR's Michelle Norris who conveniently left off the word "pledged" when describing the delegate milestone Obama would reach Tuesday night. Mara Liasson had to correct her.
Now, I'm not saying the milestone is entirely meaningless, all I'm saying is let's call it what it is: a meme pushed out by the Obama camp to influence superdelegates and the media and to manipulate public perception. I can see how psychologically it would have some power, but let's not pretend the Obama campaign wasn't being manipulative; clearly they were hoping hearing "majority" and "delegates" in the same sentence would confuse people into thinking the race had been won and thus make it so. Alas, it was not meant to be, but good try. It's about time they started playing on that playing field.
Look, the second it became clear that pledged delegates alone were not going to win the nomination for either Obama or Clinton, the use of psychological warfare was fair game; it's superdelegates' jobs to be influenced by things like popular vote, majority of pledged delegates and electability and as far as I'm concerned it's the campaigns' jobs to try to use any argument at their disposal to make the case to them.
What I find remarkable is that the same people who are brazenly spinning this Obama talking point are ridiculing the Clinton campaign for spinning theirs.
Yes, [Byron York] really did make this argument about Hillary Clinton and the primaries:There have been four quarters in the Democratic presidential nomination battle. We're late in the fourth quarter now, and when it's over, Hillary Clinton will likely have won three of the quarters -- and won the most votes overall -- but lost the game.
Mr. York? Mr. York? There's a Mr. Wolfson for you on line four.
I'm not saying York was entirely artful about expressing it, but that argument is no more absurd or off limits than the majority of pledged delegates thing. The problem for Hillary Clinton, though, is that it's just the latest argument that they've advanced that will fail to sway the superdelegates into shifting her way.