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 Monday, June 02, 2008

June 5 2008 is V-O-DAY

  From Sidney Morning Herald

V-O Day - Victory for Obama Day - will be on Thursday, June 5, 2008.

With the settlement of Florida and Michigan, the baker's dozen of delegates he netted from Puerto Rico on Sunday and the 20 or so he will gain from South Dakota and Montana on Tuesday, Senator Barack Obama will be within 30 votes of winning the nomination outright when the primaries come to an end.

On Wednesday, more than that number of superdelegates will declare their hand and, by Thursday, Obama will be able to claim outright victory for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States.

Once it is claimed, it will be impossible, because the numbers are the numbers, for Senator Hillary Clinton to dispute the result, no matter how hard and long she argues about the popular vote, her victories in big states, the key voting blocs she has been winning and her undoubted belief that she is the stronger candidate against Republican Senator John McCain.

So Clinton will face a huge choice on V-O Day:

  • to resign herself to it,
  • to align herself with his campaign, or
  • to deny the reality that has been thrust on her.

Yes, she can decide not to concede, to keep her legions intact, to keep making her case and to pledge to go to the convention for her name to be placed in nomination against Obama's.

She can certainly do this but the only difference it will make is in weakening the candidate who has won and adding newly embittered Obama supporters to her angry loyalists.

It is what Ted Kennedy did to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and it had serious consequences for that November's election.

It is more likely that Clinton, comforted by the knowledge that valour is often found in defeat, will accept the verdict and keep faith with the will of the party and the clear majority of superdelegates who have declared for Obama.

If she does this, what was an unremarkable conclusion to this campaign season - with Obama strolling but not breezing across the finish line - can be refreshed with the party able to turn to uniting and facing McCain for the general election race.

Simultaneously, another dynamic will come into play: the realisation, with the contest over, of what a remarkable victory Obama has won, how much has been achieved, by the party and the nation. In December, Obama trailed Clinton by 20 points generally, and by more than 10 points with African-Americans.

Today, he is the clear preference of his party and of course has won overwhelming support, buoyed by a sense of history and pride, of African-Americans.

It is this breakthrough that will begin to be celebrated. America will get a new chance to be reintroduced to a new favourite son.

Why Clinton lost will be one of US political history's most absorbing studies.

Clearly, her vote as senator to authorise the war in Iraq provided the opening with a political party that was demanding purity on the issue - and Obama would exploit that wedge to its fullest.

  • Her loss in Iowa;
  • the failure to capitalise on her victory on Super Tuesday;
  • her being outmanoeuvred in most of the caucus states;
  • the deep flaws in her organisation's structure, tactics and fund-raising that left her politically paralysed at key moments and in very serious debt at the end of the race;
  • and the degree of effectiveness of former president Bill Clinton, and his tactics, style and role:

All will be forensically examined.

That Obama could ultimately prevail despite not being able to put her away at key moments when a victory would have ended her run (especially in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio); and when she was winning bedrock constituencies including seniors, unions and white working Democrats; and when he was hit with the unholy grail from those occupying the pulpit of his former church in Chicago: it is remarkable indeed that Obama could survive all that upheaval.

But ultimately Obama's victory is due to

  • his positives:
  • the transcendent mosaic of his life;
  • the strategic brilliance of his campaign;
  • the unprecedented success in raising more than $US230 million, most of it from small donors; and of course
  • the hyper expansion in turnout in state after state (in Virginia, Obama's vote eclipsed that of all the Republicans in the primary combined).

Only a once-in-a-generation phenom could have beaten Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And he did. And he beat former president Bill Clinton as well.

Politics can be merciless.

V-O Day also marks a defining, generational tragedy on which Obama's success has been built: on June 5, it will be 40 years to the day since Robert F. Kennedy was murdered.

V-O Day is quite a redemption of that legacy and all the promise, the glory and the dreams that never die.

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