Got a lot of ground to cover this morning:
As the “super delegate” games begin, the Hillary camp has been hit with a wave of bad news going into next Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary. Rep John Lewis, who the NYT describes as an “elder statesman from the civil rights era,” has announced that in spite of endorsing Hillary Clinton last October, he will be casting his “super delegate” vote for Barack Obama to try and head off a rumble at the Democrat National Convention:
In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit” said Mr. Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Mrs. Clinton last fall. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.”
Mr. Lewis, who carries great influence among other members of Congress, disclosed his decision in an interview in which he said that as a superdelegate he could “never, ever do anything to reverse the action” of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.
“I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama” Mr. Lewis said. “He’s getting better and better every single day.”
His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Mrs. Clinton’s support was beginning to erode from some other African-American lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Representative David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he, too, would not go against the will of voters in his district.
Liberal blogger Josh Marshall asserts that the importance of Lewis’ change of heart cannot be overstated:
In the thick of a campaign it is easy to overrate the importance of an endorsement or a political hit. But it is difficult to overstate the significance of John Lewis’ switch from the Clinton to Obama camps because it is a devastating blow on two or three levels wrapped together in a single person. Lewis’ historic and moral stature in the African-American community and in the modern Democratic party bulks very large. “In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit” Lewis told the Times. “Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap.” This is a curious statement as he seems to be suggesting that his earlier endorsement of Clinton was based on his own failure to set his sights sufficiently high. What’s more, the willingness of a high-profile politician not simply to endorse one candidate but to switch from one to another (at least in terms of who he believes he’ll vote for as a super delegate) is a powerful sign that a tipping point is at hand.
Some all-powerful unions are moving towards BO as well, another bad sign for the Hillary campaign going into TX, OH, and PA:
It would be a significant boost for Obama, including in the coming major primary battlegrounds of Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
In other Obama-related news, he’s received the endorsement of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega:
President Daniel Ortega, who led the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua, says Barack Obama’s presidential bid is a “revolutionary” phenomenon in the United States.
“It’s not to say that there is already a revolution under way in the U.S. … but yes, they are laying the foundations for a revolutionary change,” the Sandinista leader said Wednesday night as he accepted an honorary doctorate from an engineering university.
Ortega led a Soviet-backed government that battled U.S.-supported Contra rebels before he lost power in a 1990 election. He returned to office last year via the ballot box.
In statements broadcast on Sandinista Radio La Primerisima, Ortega said he has “faith in God and in the North American people, and above all in the youth, that the moment of great change in the U.S. will come and it will act differently, with justice and equality toward all nations.”
Could a Hugo Chavez endorsement be next?
I linked earlier this week to Connecticut radio talk show host James Vicevich’s post where he documented several instances of women fainting at O-man campaign appearances. The WSJ’s James Taranto notes the similarities in the fainting spells and has a few questions:
What exactly are we to make of this? A cynic might wonder if the whole thing isn’t staged, given how often it happens and how well-honed and self-serving Obama’s standard response seems to be.
But if it’s spontaneous, that’s in a way even more unsettling. At the New Hampshire rally, Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame quipped, “Sinatra had the same effect on people.” Sinatra made girls swoon by singing romantic songs. But America isn’t electing a crooner in chief.
Obama has a talent for eliciting intense emotion–an ability that can be dangerous in a politician. What more does he have to offer? That’s a hard question to answer, and it makes the prospect of an Obama presidency quite worrisome.
And, of course, that’s not the only thing about the O-man that is worrisome.
Chuck Raasch at the USA Today writes about O-mentum as well, and quotes a Democrat activist/author as finding all the swooning over Obama troubling:
At a breakfast Wednesday with reporters, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis marveled at the reported 17,000 people who showed up to greet Obama in Wisconsin the night he decisively beat Clinton in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Then he noted, “I think he is listed as the most liberal senator of the United States Senate. I don’t know if all 17,000 people who were in his audience last night know that. But they will.”
This is what concerns some Democrats the most. Beyond hope, nearly nine months of tough politics lay ahead.
“Are Democrats coming surprisingly close to nominating a phenomena rather than a fully vetted candidate?” asked Steve Jarding, a long-time Democratic activist. “The answer to that appears to be a frightening, ‘Yes.’
“Once again, we seem to be falling in love in February only to be headed to a bitter breakup in November when our true love turns out to be much less than expected.”
Jarding, who said he considers Obama “unique and gifted,” has mostly stayed out of presidential politics since a brief dalliance with John Edwards in 2004. But the co-author of Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must do To Run ’em Out, has long warned that Democrats should avoid the mistakes of past elections.
“Historically, while hope may well sell in the spring, it wears thin by fall when it is trumped by issues of security and experience,” Jarding said.
One of his biggest complaints is over the “gushing of the media” toward Obama.
“In my 30 years of doing this,” Jarding said, “I have never seen anything like the swooning the … primarily television media has done over Obama.”
Eventually, that will change. Jarding hopes it happens in time for Democrats to know everything they need to about the man who aspires to be their great hope in 2008.
Charles Krauthammer gets to the heart of the matter:
Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He’s going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can’t possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war — with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.
Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After which will come the awakening. It will be rude.
And finally, the word of the day: Obamasms.
PM Update – 4:15 PM: The AJC reports that Rep. Lewis’ camp is denying this morning’s NYT story about him switching his super delegate vote to Obama, and says he is ‘leaving his options open.’
I say he switches his vote to BO. He knows which way the momentum is swinging.