The reaction in some liberal precincts was swift -- to come down on Hillary hard. The New York Times all but called on Democratic superdelegates to decide the race for Obama, and chided Clinton for her using Osama bin Laden's image in an ad to illustrate the dangers facing us in the world. How dare she invoke the most public face of the terrorist threat against America! The very brittleness of Obama makes much of liberaldom want to wrap him all the tighter in swaddling clothes.
Cover-ups never work, in scandals or campaigns. Obama's candidacy depends on a kind of make-believe that can't be sustained. How is he going to bring the country together around an orthodox left-wing agenda? How is he going to embody bipartisanship when the significant instances of him practicing it in his legislative career are vanishingly few? How can he heal the nation's divisions when he can't even bridge the Democratic Party's yawning demographic divide?
There nonetheless appears no way out, even if Democrats wanted one. The superdelegates were originally created to exercise their independent judgment if the party were to flock to a flawed candidate in a fit of irrational enthusiasm. But few of them have an appetite for rejecting the candidate with the most pledged delegates, especially when he's an African-American in a party devoted to sensitivity and inclusiveness. Then, there's the alternative. Clinton may have formidable demographic strengths, but they are matched by her stark personal weaknesses.
So Democrats are left to hope against hope that Obama can again become the miraculously unifying figure he seemed in February: "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief."