Robert Novak

The defection of famous Clinton supporters is continuous. The New York reformer Sarah Kovner, an ardent Clintonite and close associate of Clinton strategist Harold Ickes, turned up at an Obama rally. Investment banker (and former Deputy Treasury Secretary) Roger Altman, a charter "FOB" (Friend of Bill), is reported by Democratic sources as advocating an end to the Clinton campaign despite the former president's vigorous protests.

But not all Clinton backers have given up. Her labor backers from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers and the Machinists continue the fight. AFSCME President Gerald McIntee elicited booing of Obama by Puerto Ricans at a Clinton rally in Ponce Monday.

The noxious atmosphere contributes to counter-intuitive results in a national Princeton poll last week. Despite plunging Republican support thanks to an unpopular war and president and a declining economy, the survey showed a tie -- 46 percent to 46 percent -- between Obama and John McCain. Most startling was 19 percent of all Democrats saying they would vote Republican. "Will 60,000 old white women in Ohio vote for McCain and make him president?" asks a prominent Democrat.

Many Democrats, not all Obama supporters, feel a need to end the contest for the nomination in order to reduce that 19 percent slice of apostates. But it won't happen Saturday, when Democratic National Committee members meet in Washington to determine seating of Michigan and Florida delegates. The Clinton camp this week rejected a contemplated compromise, posing more struggle rather than reconciliation. It looked like Hillary Agonistes, eyeless in Gaza.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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