The Speech Didn't Work

Posted: Mar 21, 2008 9:48 AM
The Speech Didn't Work

After Sen. Barack H. (!) Obama’s speech on Tuesday the Intelligencia Politica, largely declared it having accomplished its task of changing the national debate from the vitriol of Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Obama’s church, to a larger debate on race in America.

Susan Page quoted me in her USA Today piece on Wednesday morning:

"I don't think it's going to change anybody's mind," said Rich Galen, a Republican consultant in Washington. "People who were for him before will say, 'Yes, that's right,' and people who were against him will say, 'That's not right.' "

Galen said what he was "absolutely unmoved by the notion of going from the abomination of slavery … to somehow using that to justify the un-American and vitriolic language of Jeremiah Wright."

Now, it seems, many people agree with me. According to the Gallup poll track, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is sitting on a five percentage point lead over Obama 48-43. This is in contrast to the Gallup measure on March 16 (two days before The Speech) when Obama had a two point lead over Clinton – 47-45.

My well-documented arithmetic skills indicate that is a seven point swing in Hillary’s favor in five days.

Thank you, Mr. Wright.

On the Michigan/Florida re-do front, it is now clear that the battle lines have been drawn. The Obama camp has no reason to want to re-run primaries in two states which Hillary would probably win.

First, it would close the gap in delegates between Barack and Hillary. Second, because they are huge states she might win by enough (when you add in Pennsylvania) to take the lead in the popular vote over the primary season, and third it adds to the Clinton theory on Super Delegates that a late surge for Hillary supports her claim that Obama is unelectable and they should hand the nomination to her.

Clinton has attempted to make the case that is was the Republican Governor and the GOP-controlled legislature who put the Democrats in this position. But the Republican Party of Florida has published an excellent bit of research showing that the Democratic members of the Legislature were all for this.

Among them, Rep. Dan Gelber, the House Democratic leader, was reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel as scoffing at warnings by DNC chairman Howard Dean saying:

“I don't have any constituents in the DNC,” Gelber said. “I only have constituents in my district. They would like to be more relevant.”

The issue of if, or how, to seat some or all of the delegates from Michigan and Florida is now almost certain to be a cloud hanging over the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

It may well lead to fights in the Rules Committee, the Credentials Committee and, ultimately, a floor fight.

As a professional, sober, and experienced observer of politics in the United States I have two words for this possibility: Woo Hoo!

Remember all that nonsense a couple of weeks ago about what bad news it was for Sen. John McCain for having wrapped up the GOP nomination on March 4th while Clinton and Obama were going to be slugging it out for months to come?

The RealClearPolitics average of head-to-head match ups shows McCain essentially tied with both of his potential opponents. McCain actually has a lead of slightly more than one percentage point, but that is meaningless.

Given the state of the economy, the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, the lack of any positive news for Republicans at the US House or Senate level and the constant claim of the popular press that Democrats are so much more energized than Republicans, how can this be?

Hillary and Barack should be beating McCain by 20 points.

Jeremiah Wright should be beating McCain by 15.

At some point the national political press corps is going to come to the realization that the prospect of a Democrat being sworn in as President on January 20th next year is becoming increasingly dim.

To those for whom it is relevant, have a wonderful Easter weekend.