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.

Slate political correspondent John Dickerson was online on Washingtonpost.com to chat about the uncertain end of the Democratic race in light of Tuesday's primaries. An unedited transcript of the chat follows.

John Dickerson: Hi everyone. Sorry I'm a bit late. I look forward to the chat.

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Nashville, Tenn.: At what point does Hillary's staff start to rebel?

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John Dickerson: I don't hear anything from the staff that suggests they're going to rebel. They're all pretty much on board. I've seen staffers rebel in other campaigns. Not getting that here.

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Chicago: Can't we assume that Hillary knows she is not going to win at this point? If so, what other motivation can she have for staying in it other then damaging Obama for the general?

John Dickerson: I'm not totally certain she thinks she isn't going to win. I think she sees a way she can pursue her interests and not cause herself or the party irreparable harm.

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Jackson, Miss.: Ickes says that Florida and Michigan have learned an "important lesson," but according to Clinton, that lesson is just that they have been unjustly wronged. My head hurts.

John Dickerson: You're right. They've learned no lesson. This is one of their weaker arguments. The lesson is that there are ways around the rules.

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Seaford, Del.: Be honest: As long as this primary campaign has been, are you really ready for it to end? Will you miss it? Will the presidential campaign still be interesting enough to capture this level of public interest after the primary battle is officially over, or will the country just yawn and turn off the cable news channels?

John Dickerson: I'm not ready for anything to end. But I never am. It's not about audience or readership. It's a great and interesting story and even though the candidates aren't talking about the issues much any more we are getting to learn a lot about the way the country and our voters see themselves and their leaders.

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Will this ever end?: Seeing as how Clinton is now completely tearing the initial Michigan/Florida agreement to shreds, how can anyone trust that she will agree to abide by whatever negotiated agreement is arrived at?

John Dickerson: If superdelegates stopped looking longingly out the window for inspiration to come riding over the horizon we'd probably get an end to this, but I also think it's reasonable and consistent for the superdelegates to wait till June 3rd when this stage of the process ends.

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Re: And not cause herself or the party irreparable harm.: She's in a swing state loudly comparing her party's actions to those of Robert Mugabe! How does that not harm the party?

John Dickerson: Good point. I think that she can clean this up a bit if she doesn't make it in the end. And we'll see what she does in reaction to the decision by the Rules and Bylaws Committee on the 31st.

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Bethesda, Md.: I take great issue with this whole consolation prize motif for Hillary Clinton should she not get the Democratic nomination. Why is she entitled to a consolation prize? What has she done to earn it, other than continually cry foul that she's being victimized because she's a woman, or to make up fictitious stories about her foreign trips (e.g., Bosnian sniper fire)?

Last time I checked, Hillary Clinton is a U.S. senator just like any other senator; her being a former First Lady doesn't, in my view, elevate her to the status of surrogate queen. She breathes the same air as we do, she drinks the same water that we do, so she's a normal human being just like the rest of us. So why is she so much more important politically that everyone feels she needs a consolation prize?

John Dickerson: it's not so much a consolation prize. Obama must consider the political damage that comes with treating her in a way that her very durable supporters find objectionable. What Clinton has done, to answer your question, is convince a large and vocal group that she should be president. That's considerable value, whatever you may say about her resume. Another way to put it: Obama's resume isn't terribly full either but he has been able to build something nevertheless and that thing he has built is what gives him political power.

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Silver Spring, Md.: What's the situation in the Clinton camp: Is it her determination to stay in that propels her staff to work, or is her staff convincing her to stay in, and that something good can come of it? Or is everyone over there just delusional?

John Dickerson: It's funny in the Clinton camp. They can't attack really and they can't mint new policy proposals (too late for that) so they're all lawyers now arguing about rules and fairness and standing.