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Dems' deadlock: more questions than answers

Each time Hillary Clinton's campaign for the presidency has been declared dead, voters have come to her rescue. Polls declared her a sure loser in New Hampshire the day before the vote, but she won. Many commentators, including this one, predicted that the Obama wave would drown Clinton's candidacy in the March 4, primaries in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont. We were wrong. Clinton won in all of those states except Vermont.

Did Clinton's assertions that Obama's campaign is based on a single speech while hers is based on a lifetime of achievement have telling effect in the days before the vote? Is an advertisement about answering the phone in the White House at 3:00 a.m. while the children are sleeping enough to change your mind? Did a strange leak by Canadian diplomats of a confidential conversation with an Obama advisor suggesting that his position on the North American Free Trade Agreement is hypocritical do him in? Did Republican voters, who could vote in the Texas and Ohio primaries, come out in large numbers to vote for Clinton as their choice of candidate to beat in November? Was Obama just a little too complacent, alienating voters?

No election psychiatrist will come up with definitive answers. The analysts try to slice and dice the electorate into blocs of supporters for one candidate or the other, but what might be happening is that large numbers of voters in the Democratic primaries are struggling with their personal prejudices and with the anxiety of having to vote down one attractive candidate who would make history as they vote for the other. What determines your choice between the first potential woman president and the first black; between Obama's inspirational "we can" and Clinton's "we will?" Are you going to vote for the candidate you are most comfortable with, thinking yes or no about sex and color on the way to the polls?

The mathematics of the Democrats' delegate selection process makes it almost certain that the Clinton-Obama struggle can only be resolved by the superdelegates who are free to vote their personal political interests at the National Convention. Since neither candidate can win enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination, those party leaders will have to play Solomon. In the biblical tale, two prostitutes came before the king as mothers of newborns, each claiming she was the true mother of the surviving baby after the second baby died in the night. When Solomon suggested taking a sword to the baby and giving half to each claimant, the real mother said give her child to the lying woman rather than see the baby killed. Solomon declared in favor of the compassionate woman and awarded the child to her.

Now substitute Clinton and Obama for the prostitutes, and let the surviving baby be Democratic Party unity and the nomination for President. Perhaps this is where the true difference between the candidates lies.

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