David Limbaugh

The question, my fellow election watchers, is not, "Why won't Hillary do the honorable thing and quit?" but "Why won't Democrats do the honorable thing and quit trying to force her to?"

Did Democrats make Ted Kennedy quit when he fought Jimmy Carter through the Democratic convention in 1980 in an effort to dislodge pledged delegates though Carter had already secured a majority? That was far worse than anything Hillary is doing.

Until one of the candidates secures the magic number of delegates (a majority) -- and that number is a moving target, given the limbo status of Florida and Michigan -- there is no nominee. A plurality won't cut it.

Nor is the candidate with the most pledged delegates automatically entitled to the nod of the superdelegates or even most of them. The superdelegates are free agents, who may choose either candidate for any reason.

The superdelegate system was designed to give the superdelegates maximum prerogative, which only makes sense because the party bosses established it to ensure their own control over the nomination process. The whole idea was to give them the power to substitute their judgment for the will of the people if, in their political omniscience, they determine the people's choice to be not prudent.

Well, Democrats made their own bed. Just because they've encountered a recalcitrant candidate who will not march to their orders, they can't suddenly change the rules in the middle of the election -- a lesson they should have learned in Florida in 2000 -- and force the superdelegates to follow the pledged delegates. Free means free. The candidates may lobby for the supers' votes just as if, collectively, the supers were the last state.

Why should Hillary be deprived of her right to campaign in this one last "state," especially considering the dramatic changes that have occurred since the primary season began?

Indeed Hillary can make a compelling case that the superdelegate system was made to order precisely for the predicament in which Democrats now find themselves. The leading candidate in both popular vote and pledged delegates (putting aside the knotty issues surrounding Michigan and Florida), might be an entirely different person than voters in earlier primary states assumed.

Under the system they created, shouldn't Democrats be encouraging Hillary to give it her best shot to win over the supers? If she is correct that Obama is unelectable, she could theoretically persuade a very large percentage of them to vote for her -- enough to get her to the magic number. If it were not possible, the whole super-system of providing a safety valve against the initially popular but ultimately unelectable candidate would be a farce.

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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