John Dickerson takes questions from readers wondering when the Democratic race will end.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
May 23 2008 11:48 AM

Our Primary Concerns

John Dickerson takes questions from readers wondering when the Democratic race will end.

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New Orleans: It doesn't appear that Clinton staying in will harm the party irreparably, but let's say she is able to figure out a way to finagle the nomination—wouldn't such an occurrence tear the party apart, and most likely lead to a McCain presidency?

John Dickerson: If Clinton finds a way to get the nomination a big chunk of the party would think that she stole it. That chunk includes African Americans and young voters and liberals. Democrats need that group in the fall. It's a big problem and they don't have an answer about how Clinton is going to avoid it.

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New York: Are there any leaders who have had the courage to tell Clinton bluntly that it is time to get behind the party's nominee? She's just a bully at this point.

John Dickerson: There's no one who could, I don't think that isn't in her camp fighting alongside her.

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Pittsburgh: I don't get it—if she is winning the popular vote, Clinton should get the nomination. If the superdelegates know so much about who could better run the country, then is the country in such a mess. Let the popular vote be deciding factor. Also, why isn't anyone in the media asking for another debate? They are so in favor of Obama that they are letting him get away with not debating her. This would not be the case if the situation were reversed!

John Dickerson: Clinton is only winning the popular vote in Bizarro world. She claims that she is but the math formula required to get this outcome requires acts of prayer more than science.

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St. Charles, Ill.: I think it's obvious to most of us that Clinton is just trashing her own reputation, and "Hillary" will enter the political jargon as a synonym for "sore loser." No rationale is left, she is not winning the superdelegates over, and her tortured logic on the popular vote is making her a laughingstock. The "sexist" argument is even weaker—as Doris Godwin pointed out, her gender has been perhaps her biggest asset, next to the name recognition coming from her husband. Many "feminists" also are convinced that she is the worst possible representative of their movement and is setting the cause back by decades. What keeps her in the race? It's the complex psychology of the sore loser.

John Dickerson: I'm not so sure. She's got every right to stay in the race and make her case. She may not be right. Her spin may be stretched, but what moral or legal case is there for her to get out. Clinton certainly has benefited form her gender—and seeks to do so again by drawing attention to it, so that point to me seems right. What keeps her in the race is that she's a fighter and fighters fight. We usually respect that and admire it in our culture. As people have talked about Teddy Kennedy they have talked about him being a fighter. Well, if you're a fighter, you fight.

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Toluca Lake, Calif.: Why aren't the superdelegates bringing this to a close? Fear of the Clintons?

John Dickerson: Perhaps but I think they might also be leaving their options open and making the calculation that the price they pay for jumping ahead of the process is higher than the one they pay for not acting.

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Rockville, Md.: I don't think Obama has to do anything, per se. However, I do think that the remaining superdelegates need to meet and then congruently back the people's choice. This approach would bring some sort of completeness to Obama's nomination ... i.e. if we want it to end before June 3.

John Dickerson: This is very smart. If the superdelegates want to fix things they'll get together and all jump at once after June 3rd. There's some evidence that they'll do this. They're the ones that can give a clean break to this and show that the party and the process is behind the nominee in a big solid way.

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She's just a bully?: So strong women can't just be strong women? They have to be a bully? Don't laugh if I call that a little sexist!

John Dickerson: Did I use the word bully? Whether I did or not it seems to me that a person can be a bully whether they're a man or a woman.

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Burlington, Vt.: Why is it Clinton's fault that Obama chose to take his name off the ballot? It's not her fault he took a dive! I want a president who's stronger than that!

John Dickerson: Whether one keeps their name on or off of a an unsanctioned contest seems an odd test of presidential strength.

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St. Charles, Ill.: I think what we are seeing is the psychology of the "sore loser" at work. Something pathological must be going on—denial of reality, wishful thinking, and rejection of the premise coupled with anger and acting out. What is your take on Hillary's mental state? I've seen her described in the "XX Factor" as the "high-maintenance, difficult woman" that everyone has to tiptoe around.

John Dickerson: I think Hillary is doing exactly what any other tough politician in her fix would do. I think making claims about her mental state is something people do a lot and most are just guessing. If being high-maintenance and difficult were a barrier to anything we'd have no politicians, CEOs, editors or authors.

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