Friday, May 02, 2008

Another DNC chair backs Obama

Former Democratic National Committe Chairman (and superdelegate) Paul Kirk is endorsing Barack Obama for president today. This news comes on the heels of former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew shifting his allegence from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama just yesterday, in the interest of bringing the Democrats' internecene fracas to a close sooner than later.

It's significant that these former DNC chairs have endorsed Obama. They represent the Democrats' old guard. They would naturally back Senator Clinton, who's pretty old-guardy herself, being the wife of the president who gave a lot of these people their jobs. It would be understandable, then, that the superdelegates who hail from the corridors of Democratic power would be reluctant to turn their backs on their old boss by supporting anyone but the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The scorecard of DNC chiefs' endorsements still slightly favors Clinton, but you'd think she could have closed the deal among party elites by now. Many of the DNC chiefs endorsed Clinton a long time ago, when they apparently figured Clinton had this thing wrapped up. Observe:

DNC chairs endorsing Clinton
Debra DeLee (2/13/2008)
Donald Fowler (12/19/2007)
Steve Grossman (6/11/2007)
Terry McAuliffe (1/20/2007)
Charles Manatt (12/7/2007)
Ed Rendell (1/24/2008)

DNC chairs endorsing Obama
David Wilhelm (2/13/2008)
Christopher Dodd (2/26/2008)
Joe Andrew (5/1/2008)
Paul Kirk (5/2/2008)

DNC chairs still uncommitted
Roy Romer
Howard Dean

Of course it makes sense that Howard Dean hasn't endorsed anyone yet, since he's the current chairman of the DNC. He has an obligation to try to stay above the fray, and likely won't endorse anyone until Clinton drops out or the Denver convention is held—whichever happens first.

Paul Kirk's endorsement does send a signal to superdelegates that it's okay to endorse Obama without upsetting the party establishment, and Joe Andrew's quitting the Clinton camp to endorse Obama sends a still stronger such signal. The enduring concern is that since Hillary Clinton can't possibly win the nomination this year (barring any unforeseen tragedy,) her persistent campaign is only serves to turn people off the Democratic ticket, thus setting Barack Obama up for a loss in November—and perhaps setting Clinton up for another presidential run in 2012. It's encouraging that the Democratic establishment is finally starting to recognize that one of its own is doing major damage to the party right now. Hopefully they'll be able to take enough action before it's too late.

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