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Obama Rebounds From the Wright Stuff

Bad news for Hillary. Media hype aside, the latest poll numbers and delegate counts suggest that Barack Obama’s path to the Democratic nomination is still fairly straightforward.

by
Bill Bradley

Bio

May 5, 2008 - 3:45 am

Well, I’d thought at the beginning of last week that Jeremiah Wright’s National Press Club appearance was the wildcard of the week. And how. Barack Obama is only now starting to recover from Jeremiah’s jeremiad. So his numbers in tomorrow’s primaries in North Carolina and Indiana are likely to be depressed. Look for an Obama loss in Indiana and a less than thunderous win in North Carolina.

Nevertheless, Obama’s path to the Democratic nomination is still pretty straightforward. Even with all the turbulence, he’s getting the lion’s share of superdelegates who have come down off the fence. Since Clinton’s 9-point win in Pennsylvania the week before last, Obama has nearly made up her edge in Keystone State delegates, keeping him comfortably ahead.

It’s virtually impossible for Clinton to catch Obama in the race for earned delegates.

Barack Obama barely won the Guam primary on Saturday – it’s called a caucus but functions as a primary run by the Democratic Party – in which people vote throughout the day with secret ballots. Obama ended up with 50.1% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 49.9%. He led from the start of the long count, in all areas of the island territory by six to eight percent until the votes were counted in Guam’s largest town, Dededo. There Clinton came on strong. Interestingly enough, many ballots were discarded there. Obama and Clinton will split the four pledged delegates available from the Pacific island, 5500 miles from Los Angeles.

A new territorial party chair and vice chair were also elected today, both superdelegates, replacing the pro-Clinton party chair, and they are for Obama.

Obama picked up three other superdelegates Saturday, to Clinton’s one, including the New Mexico state party chairman, whose state narrowly went for Clinton after a count that mysteriously lasted for about ten days.

So Obama picks up five superdelegates and two earned delegates Saturday; Clinton picks up one superdelegate and two earned delegates. Prior to that, in the post-Pennsylvania days, Obama had picked up 15 superdelegates to Clinton’s 10. So Obama has already nearly erased Clinton’s delegate gain from Pennsylvania.

The Rasmussen robopoll track shows Barack Obama in the same statistical dead heat with Hillary Clinton nationally that he was in the previous two nights. It’s Clinton 45%, Obama 45%. While Obama had an 8-point lead before Wright’s meltdown at the National Press Club on Monday, it appears that he has bottomed out in the Democratic race.

Yesterday’s CBS poll has even better news for Obama, showing him opening up a lead on Clinton again and also leading John McCain. This is a pattern we saw a while back when Wright’s sometimes incendiary sermonizing became a round-the-clock staple of cable TV, talk radio, and the blogosphere. As the shock wore off – in part due to its constant repetition – Obama rose up again. The same pattern happened again with Bittergate.

Perhaps more worryingly for Obama, a majority of voters in the poll say that his denunciation of Wright on Tuesday was likely driven by politics rather than outrage. And a majority feel that Obama may well share at least some of Wright’s view.

We did see, however, his numbers dip sharply after the first Wright media firestorm. His denunciation of his former pastor may settle in with voters as the shock of Wright’s statements Monday before Washington’s National Press Club wears off.

Or people may conclude that Obama was lying about knowing how out there Wright really could be.

Or they may conclude that every candidate has problems, and big issues trump such matters.

The polls are all over the place in Indiana, with Clinton anywhere from tied with Obama to 10 points ahead.
Obama’s extreme turbulence, of course, is all due to the Wright Stuff. The freshman Illinois senator’s purported friend put a couple of torpedoes into his candidacy in a way that probably no one else could. There’s a lot of delicious speculation about what Wright might do next. My guess, from a fair amount of experience around black Democratic politics? He does nothing much.

Isn’t it interesting how the biggest problems for Barack Obama are coming not from the right, but the left?Consider. Without Bittergate, prompted by an activist blogger/maxed-out financial supporter of Obama writing on the pro-Obama Huffington Post, Obama was moving up in Pennsylvania. Consider. Without his pastor, who supposedly has devoted his life to promoting black people, Obama is moving up in Indiana and North Carolina, enough to squeeze the remaining life out of the Hillary Clinton candidacy. For fans of irony, this campaign has it all.What Wright, who was clearly something of a crank – and it ain’t like I don’t know a lot of folks like that, on both ends of the spectrum – is trying to do is quite obvious. Extend his 15 minutes of fame and make himself the new Al Sharpton. And he has a new book to sell. Color me shocked.

Another great irony here is how Hillary Clinton is getting a free ride for her own very real, not at all tangential, ties to radical politics. Famed ’60s radical Tom Hayden, who knows his radical politics like the back of his hand, points out that Hillary actually worked for the chairman of the Black Panther Party when he was on trial for murder. This was when she was a Yale law student. She later went to work for a Berkeley law firm run by avowed Communists, which made a practice of defending the Black Panthers.

What’s particularly interesting to me about this is that Hillary did this at the same time that the Black Panthers murdered a friend of my family. In 1970, they kidnaped Judge Harold Haley, who I met many times as a kid, while he was presiding over the trial of George Jackson. Haley had been appointed to the bench five years earlier by Governor Pat Brown, who built much of modern California. Haley was a good man who was giving the Panthers a fair trial. They ended up blowing his head off with a shotgun.

So it was very clear to me that there was something very wrong with the Black Panthers. And any adult who romanticized them as much more than politically gussied-up thugs suffered from a very serious lapse in judgment. Yet there was Senator Clinton. Not 40 years later with some ex-Panther.

But there – in real time – while this stuff was taking place. And yet we hear nothing about this in the media, from the right, or from the Republican Party.

Bill Bradley is a PJ Media correspondent. His PajamasXpress blog is New West Notes.
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