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Three Myths About the Democratic Race

By Peter Daou

This was sent to me by Peter Daou and is printed with his permission.  (Originally posted at blogHillary)

MYTH: Barack Obama is running a positive campaign that will unite Americans.

FACT: Barack Obama and his advisers have conducted a divisive “full assault” on Hillary’s character.

While talking a lot about the politics of hope, change and unity, Sen. Obama and his campaign have been conducting a relentless and singularly personal assault on Hillary’s character. They have blanketed big states with false negative mailers and radio ads and have described Hillary and her campaign as “disingenuous,” “divisive,” “untruthful,” “dishonest,” “polarizing,”calculating,” “saying whatever it takes to win,” “attempting to deceive the American people,” “one of the most secretive in America,” “deliberately misleading,” “literally willing to do anything to win,” and “playing politics with war.”

This “full assault” on Hillary’s integrity and character has reached a new peak since Hillary’s victories on March 4th. One of Sen. Obama’s top surrogates equated President Clinton with Joe McCarthy; another called Hillary a “monster;” and his campaign manager held an angry conference call claiming that Hillary is “deeply flawed” and has “character issues.” That’s neither unifying nor hopeful. If Sen. Obama really is the prohibitive favorite some say he is, these negative attacks make absolutely no sense. Why would a frontrunner seek to attack and divide? If Sen. Obama can’t unify Democrats in a primary, how can he unify Americans in a general election?

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MYTH: The delegate “math” works decisively against Hillary.

FACT: The delegate math reflects an extremely close race that either candidate can win.

“The Math” is actually very simple: with hundreds of delegates still uncommitted, NEITHER candidate has reached the number of delegates required to secure the nomination. And EITHER candidate can reach the required number in the coming weeks and months. That is indisputable. No amount of editorials, articles, blog posts, charts, graphs, calculations, formulas, or projections will change the basic fact that either candidate can win. Pundits who confidently proclaim that Hillary has no hope of winning because of “the math,” have counted Hillary out of this race three times before. Each time they based their sober assessments on ‘facts’ and ‘realities’ — and each time they were wrong.

In a campaign with dozens of unexpected twists and turns, bold prognostications should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Look no further than Sen. Obama’s “full assault” on Hillary’s character to judge whether he thinks this election is over. The fact is this: Hillary and Sen. Obama are locked in a very close, hard-fought campaign and Hillary is demonstrating precisely the strength of character required of a president. Her resilience in the face of adversity, her faith in the voters, her capacity to rise to every challenge, are part of the reason she is the best general election candidate for Democrats. And it is why she is increasingly strong against John McCain in the polls at the same time that Sen. Obama is dropping against Sen. McCain.

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MYTH: For Hillary to win, super delegates must “overturn the will of the people.”

FACT: The race is virtually tied, the “will of the people” is split, and both candidates need super delegates to win.

The Obama campaign and Sen. Obama’s surrogates have engaged in a sustained public relations effort to convince people that the election is over and that if super delegates perform their established role of choosing a candidate who they believe will make the best nominee and president, they are somehow “overturning the will of the people.” They have the audacity to make this argument while quietly and systematically courting those very same super delegates. They are courting them because they know that Sen. Obama needs super delegates to win. The Obama spin is being parroted daily by pundits, but it is patently false. The race is virtually tied; the “will of the people” is split. By virtually every measure, Hillary and Sen. Obama are neck and neck — separated by less than 130 of the more than 3,100 delegates committed thus far and less than 1% of the 27 million+ votes cast, including Florida and Michigan. Less than 1%.

An incremental advantage for one candidate or the other is hardly a reason for super delegates to change the rules mid-game. Despite the Obama campaign’s aggressive spin and pressure, the RULES require super delegates to exercise their best independent judgment, and that is what they will do. Even Sen. Obama’s top strategist agrees they should. If not, then why don’t prominent Obama endorsers like Senators Kerry (MA) and Kennedy (MA), and Governors Patrick (MA), Napolitano (AZ)  and Richardson (NM) follow the will of their constituents and switch their support to Hillary? After all, she won their states. And if this is truly about the “will of the people,” then Sen. Obama’s short-sighted tactic to run out the clock on a revote in Florida and Michigan accomplishes exactly two things: it disenfranchises Florida and Michigan’s voters; and it hurts Democrats in a general election. Apparently, for the Obama campaign, the “will of the people” is just words.

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