At the Politico, Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen say that, unless superdelegates pledged to Hillary Clinton essentially veto the will of the Democratic electorate in August, Hillary Clinton’s bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination is over. As best I can tell, the reasoning in this is air-tight, though I disagree with their conclusion. Every best-case scenario for Clinton still leaves her behind Obama in delegates. (Unless she can get do-overs in Michigan and Florida, which Vandehei and Allen rightly say “would take a political miracle.”) Barring that (or something literally disqualifying Obama), Hillary’s chances rest on the hopes of a superdelegate coup.
Where Vandehei and Allen are mistaken is in their conviction that such a coup won’t occur. They think that some sense of decorum or party unity will prevent superdelegates from jumping Obama’s ship and boarding Hillary’s.
If this Democratic race has shown us anything, it’s that no such sense of decorum or unity exists. And if superdelegates merely served the purpose of seconding the will of the electorate, their position in the Democratic party would never have been created. The whole purpose of superdelegates is to strengthen the influence of party leadership, precisely so that votes cast throughout the primaries don’t hold too much sway. They are, in other words, designed to do exactly what the Politico piece claims they never would.
This isn’t an argument for the rightness of their function, only a reminder of the reasoning behind it. I’ll leave it to Hillary to make speeches about the valuable guidance and critical balance provided by this loose body of bigshots whose silly name I can’t bear to type any more.