It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Delegate!!
I like the fact that the Dem primary race is still competitive. I even like the fact that no clear front-runner has emerged. All good in my estimation.
But then I heard tonight a factor that could make things very, well, icky, and could end up in a scenario that would leave a lot of Dems very much unhappy and crying foul.
First of all, bear in mind that it's not the number of caucusessessssesss or primaries that a candidate wins, it's all about the delegates. Going into South Carolina, Obama held a slim one delegate lead over Hillary Clinton.
But here's what's got me a bit concerned.
Looking at the numbers, it's utterly impossible for any of the Dem candidates to emerge with enough "non-super" delegates from the primaries and caucuseesessses to sew up the nomination, even if any one of them won every single delegate from here through super-duper tsunami Tuesday, February 5th.
What the hell you may be saying, I know I did.
It all started with rule changes instituted by the Democratic party in the early 70's to try to wrest inordinate power away from power brokers such as the Daley's and other party bosses and correct the balance of power to allow grass roots activists, minority, women, and other factions a voice in the process.
Then after the Dems nominated George McGovern who went down in flames, the muckety-mucks of the party decided that they needed to take some of that power back in order to try to restore some sort of control by the establishment and provide a check against the Dems nominating someone they supported even if they weren't likely to win.
To accomplish this without reverting to the old boss system, they devised the plan to add so-called "super delegates" to the process.
Super delegates aren't Dems in tights and a cape, (that's more like what you'd expect to catch a bible-thumping Republican wearing in a motel room.) but rather they're party big wigs, usually elected officials such as governors, senators, state chairs, ex-presidents (yep, Bill Clinton gets a vote) vice presidents, and the like.
The idea was to involve people who have a personal stake in the nominee in hopes of avoiding nominating someone deemed too extreme or out of step with the rest of the party.
There's 842 of these super delegates, making up a full FORTY PERCENT of the total delegate count. That's a damn big chunk and represents a lot of sway.
Now here's the deal; even if Clinton, Obama, or Edwards single-handedly won every single one of the primaries on Super-Duper-Tsunami Tuesday February 5th, none of them would have enough "un-super" delegates to cinch the nomination.
What this means is that the contest will go on beyond that date, the date from which nearly everyone had assumed a clear nominee would emerge.
With no clear winner, it raises the likelihood that the Dem nomination will boil down to who can secure the votes of enough of these super-delegates to put them over the top.
This of course opens up the thing to the modern equivalent of back room deals at conventions, with deals being struck left and right in exchange for support.
Perhaps worst of all, it essentially invalidates the votes of millions of Dems, Dems who've showed up at the polls in record numbers, numbers that has included many newly energized voters including masses of young people.
How disillusioning it would be to realize that after all their enthusiasm and excitement, that the choice was taken out of their hands and decided by a relative handful of professional politicians. It would be a terribly demoralizing situation, and doubly tragic in light of the fact that this election cycle seemed to be ushering in a newly involved and activated electorate in contrast to the increasing apathy and non-participation which has grown steadily for years.
Now at last there's a sea change of sorts, partially due to people's fervent desire to be rid of the gang of incompetent crooks in the White House, but also inspired in large part by Barack Obama's vision of a better tomorrow, particularly among new young voters.
If it turns out that the decision is thrown to "the past" represented by entrenched politicians and political types, it can't be good for party morale.
Will any candidate benefit from this?
Many of these super-delegates have already endorsed a candidate, and based on that criteria, Clinton is ahead.
You can track which super delegates are pledged or endorsing what candidate here.
Note that various news organizations all have different numbers for how many super delegate are pledged to each candidate, with Clinton ranging from 182 to 207 and Obama ranging from 86 to 112.
What are your thoughts on this likely scenario?