Wright's Silver Lining

A campaign blog.
May 1 2008 11:55 AM

Wright's Silver Lining

Crackpot theories abound in this news cycle, but one of ours—that Rev. Wright’s resurgence may end up helping Obama —could actually have some truth to it.

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Just today, former DNC Chairman Joe Andrew switched his allegiance from Clinton to Obama. The main reason, he says, is that dragging the race out hurts the party. But he has other reasons, too:

"He has shown such mettle under fire," Andrew said. " The Jeremiah Wright controversy just reconfirmed for me , just as the gas tax controversy confirmed for me, that he is the right candidate for our party."

If superdelegates were looking for an opportunity to swing to Clinton, the return of Wright should have been just that. But the trickle still favors Obama. Since Pennsylvania, Obama has won 11 supers to Clinton’s six. Since Ohio and Texas, the numbers are 35 and 14, respectively. Clinton’s ever-shrinking superdelegate lead is now 20.

Wright has obviously hurt Obama overall. But he has also given Obama the opportunity to prove that he can weather disaster—twice, and in two different ways . Now it’s harder to argue, as Clinton has, that Obama hasn’t been "vetted." Not that the "vetting" has revealed anything whatsoever about what kind of president Obama would be. But that’s not the point. The point is he has survived controversy, which, for better or worse, is as important to becoming president these days as compelling policy ideas.

Granted, Andrew’s rationale for endorsing Obama is just one guy’s take. And it clearly wasn’t the deciding factor in his decision to switch. But it does suggest that Wrightgate has a silver lining in the eyes of superdelegates.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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