We learn from this morning's Times that Senator Obama's trove of super-delegates has just risen to equal Senator Clinton's. Wait, hasn't Mrs. Clinton been fatally far behind in delegates and just been stubbornly hanging on out of sheer nastiness? Or has the press been lying to us?
The fact is that there is a known future and hints of it have slipped out a drib and a drab at a time. It is this - Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton will hotly contest each and every primary election until the last of them is over on June 3 when New Mexico, Montana, and the Dakotas have their say. There will then be a pre-convention of super-delegates.
According to Wikipedia there are 3253 popularly elected (pledged) delegates and 793 unpledged super-delegates, about 4/5 and 1/5 respectively. The custom at nominating conventions is that once the nomination has been decided upon, each delegation asks for, and gets, permission to change its votes. It then changes its votes to vote unanimously for the nominee. There is then a brief demonstration in which the delegates run around with signs and funny hats and make fools of themselves on national television. There is every reason to believe that an essentially identical process will take place during the pre-convention of the super-delegates. (Except the demonstrations with the signs and funny hats.)
The pre-convention may not even physically meet. It may be done through a rump of the most influential meeting in a posh hotel somewhere or it may be done electronically. But in all likelihood, after the deal-making and the threats and promises have all worked out to agreement on one or other of the candidates, the vote will then be unanimous. The final vote among the super-delegates will be 793 to 0.
Which will easily swamp whatever tiny lead in pledged elected delegates either candidate went into the pre-convention with. As intended by the designers of the system, the super-delegates will pick the nominee.
And Mrs. Clinton until today was ahead in super-delegates. Which means that until today she, and not Mr. Obama, was ahead in the nomination race. Which the press has forgotten to mention so much as once until they could report that Mr. Obama had pulled even.
It is no longer any secret that the contest for the nomination has long since become a class struggle. Blue and white collar white workers generally support Mrs. Clinton. A coalition of black people and prosperous college-educated whites support Mr. Obama. A moment's thought shows the truth of Mrs. Clinton's remark that Mr. Obama would not be where he is now were it not for his being black. If Mr. Obama were white, black voters would be voting their class rather than their race and Mrs. Clinton would already have the nomination. Of course, if he were white the prosperous white liberals wouldn't be supporting him either and he would be one among the six candidates already eliminated, and we wouldn't be having this discussion. The manipulativeness and hypocrisy of the Obama campaign in objecting to any mention of race, when his campaign is based on little but race and rhetoric, is so grating that I would readily oppose him if I did not despise the other two candidates so much.
But returning to the super-delegate question, why would the press have omitted from its voluminous-unto-obsessive coverage of the nomination race any mention of who was actually ahead in it? Mrs. Clinton is the candidate of the workers. Mr. Obama is the candidate of the middle class professionals. Which class does the press fall in?