Putting the onus on Obama?

In yesterdays Washington Post, David Broder had an interesting column. He asked a friend who works in Hillary Clintons national campaign, whether her camp sees any realistic way she can deny the Democratic nomination to Obama "without blowing up the party," that is, "If the superdelegates should decide to take the risk and cast their lot with Clinton, how would she be able to heal the wounds of a fight to the finish with Obama?"

The Clinton camp's answer comes in two parts. First, they say that the institutional party -- the unions, the environmental groups, the abortion rights groups and others that are desperate for victory after losing twice to George Bush and that recognize the potential appeal of John McCain -- would exert heavy pressure on the losing side not to sulk or erupt.And second, the Clinton camp hopes that, if he is counted out, Obama, just 46, would think about his long-term future and secure his own status as heir apparent by reconciling his followers to a bitter but temporary defeat and by throwing all his energies behind Clinton.In effect, my friend was saying that it may well be beyond Clinton's power to win the nomination without severely damaging the party. Only Obama can make her winning seem right.

At the Democratic National Convention in 1956, John F. Kennedy made a late run against Estes Kefauver to obtain the vice-presidential nomination alongside Adlai Stevenson. Kennedy lost, but it was widely believed that his effort had won him valuable publicity for a run for the presidential nomination four years later. Is this what the Clinton camp is offering Obama?

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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