Salena Zito

“John Lewis was in this position, and he said it was harder than marching in Selma,” notes Siegel. Lewis is the Alabama congressman, ex officio and civil-rights leader who switched from Clinton to Obama.

Siegel sees good reasons for ex-officio delegates to exist. “The party still needs wiggle room to stop from going off a cliff. It is terribly important to involve elected and party officials, who will be carrying the fall campaign on their shoulders, in the decision on who the candidate will be.

“It's easy to demonize the concept of superdelegate,” he adds. “The defense of this rule is more sophisticated, but it doesn't make it less correct.”

The Democrats’ history-making campaign will be viewed by the process that resolves it and the strength of the party going out of the convention. If one candidate appears to have been robbed -- causing a bloody convention, a weakened party and a loss in the general election -- then history will blame the rules that allowed for it.

History will only be much kinder and gentler if the party manages a fair, rational resolution based on popular mandate, on candidate electability, and on a defensible resolution of the Florida and Michigan primary problems.

As for Altmire, he says he hasn’t considered seeing a political therapist -- “at least not yet.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.