Super delegates will have final say in Obama/Clinton tussle

Voters in North Carolina and Indiana will weigh-in on the Democratic Primary Tuesday, as Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton enter the back stretch of their race for the White House.
Though Obama holds an almost insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and states won, Clinton aims to convince the super delegates that she, the second place finisher, should oppose Sen. John McCain in the fall election. Only Obama’s camp is saying that Hillary is in wonderland on that possibility.

History tells us that presidential elections haven’t always been won by the best candidate. That’s because many voters are swayed more by a candidate’s personality than by their wisdom or competence. The emergence of Obama as the first black candidate with a strong national following has made race a key issue, far more than gender has been a factor for Clinton. Indeed, in recent weeks those who shape and bring us the news have made race the centerpiece of this election year. Which means, of course, that even at this stage of the primary, Obama might be in trouble if the uncommitted super delegates rely too heavily on the media’s opinion shapers. Here’s why:

(1) Perspective — Conservative radio and talk show hosts rarely try to hide their bias, racial or otherwise. They preach to a fervent gathering of followers, and they are the pathfinders for that block of voters searching for any excuse to oppose anyone who looks like Obama. Their goal is to distort the truth, to undermine the goodness and strength in nonwhites and to wallow in divisiveness. Unfortunately, on the issue of race, even mainstream media-types have demonstrated difficulty in presenting race-related questions in an objective way. On Meet the Press Sunday, Tim Russert asked Obama why he couldn’t “connect” with the blue collar voters. Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, et al, pose the same question almost daily. The question clearly implies that the blame should fall on Obama, not those “blue collar” voters who won’t support him under any circumstances. The question implies that there is something he can do to win them over, while the question should be why, at this time in our history, does a large segment of our society still refuse to acknowledge and deal authentically with the impact that institutional racism has had on the soul of these United States? The media used to focus on providing its audiences with insight and perspective – that ability to see all the relative data in a meaningful relationship. That’s no longer a priority. The absence of a daily black perspective in the news media continues to limit their knowledge and cloud their judgment on important racial issues.

(2) Media stars – Not long ago, the nation’s top journalists didn’t hesitate to shed light on wrongdoers or question the judgment of unprincipled leaders, who strayed from roads lined with integrity and fairness and traveled instead on roads that led to greed and corruption. In today’s media, there’s too much emphasis on ratings and stirring controversy in the most obnoxious way. Entertainment value, it seems, has surpassed virtue in the media war for listeners/viewers at the highest level of journalism. Talk show guests on cable news are encouraged to go theatrical, mix it up, interrupt, point fingers. Never mind the missed comments, vacuous lines or stupidity that ensues. After all, electing a president isn’t rocket science, producers might say. Only the fate of the free world is at stake, so what’s the big deal? Right now, the media might prefer Obama over Clinton only because they’d have Rev. Jeremiah Wright in the news cycle for another five months. That’s show business, but that’s not what journalism should be about.

(3) Clintons’ scorched earth politics – The Clintons’ anything-goes-approach to running for president proves two things: They have no shame or integrity. She’ll pursue Obama’s pledged delegates, duck sniper fire, impose tax on oil companies and pursue the racist vote to get elected. Afterwards, she’d no doubt stress integrity, denounce racism with a straight face and expect people to applaud her stance. Whether she gains the nomination or not, she has lost credibility as a politician, but more importantly, as a Christian woman. The folks with the real clout – the remaining super delegates – will have the final word on the Obama/Clinton battle. Perhaps we’ll know more about their value system on Wednesday.

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