Vantage point

Sunday, February 17, 2008

An Absorbing Finish

The 2008 Presidential campaign has been the most entertaining reality tv show of all time, and it is barely halfway through.

McCain's surprise win, after being written off 5 months ago, has been source of a lot of that entertainment as I wrote before. A few years back, when India-Pakistan cricket matches involved a cut-throat emotionally heavy rivalry, an Indian win would give me an unusual avenue of entertainment. Every time India won a match, I would switch to PTV for the post-match analysis. The way hosts and expert on that channel would be frothing at their mouths was hilarious. The best of course was the panel discussion after Sachin KO-ed Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. One expert blamed Saeed Anwar for the defeat. You might remember that Anwar scored a century, taking Pakistan to a respectable 270-odd. So why did he deserve the blame? In the words of that expert, "Anwar scored his 100 off 120 balls, whereas Sachin scored his 98 off 75 balls. On such an easy batting track, that wastage of 45 balls made Pakistan lose."

The point of this India-Pak digression - listening to Talk Radio (the admittedly conservative radio station) since McCain's triumphs has been similarly amusing. Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Ingraham.... all of them have been in an angry delirium.

On the Democrat side, Obama's surge has been fun too. Hillary has now lost 8 states in a row and is counting on wins in Texas, Ohio and my own Pennsylvania to help her win the nomination. Sadly for her, the best wins she can hope for are 60-40 wins, which will still give enough delegates to Obama to keep him ahead. And it looks more and more likely that they will both head to the convention a bit short of the 2050 delegates required to seal the contest. Then it could all come down to the 700 or so "superdelegates".

Superdelegates are elected officials, like senators, congressmen, governors etc, who get a vote at the convention. As of now, most of them seem to be siding with Hillary. But just think. If Obama goes to the convention with a higher popular vote and higher normal delegate count, he will have the higher moral ground. At that point, if Hillary wins thanks to superdelegates, it won't seem that different from Clarence Thomas awarding George W. Bush the presidency over Al Gore in the 2000 race after the Florida deadlock. And considering how most left-liberals still obsess over the sneaky Bush win, it could open up a can of worms.

In that situation, McCain will be delighted. He is already the only Republican who has appeal among independent voters. He is seen as a principled man, a sometime maverick, and is untarnished by the Bush legacy. Independents have been overwhelmingly voting for Obama in Democrat primaries. If they are screwed over by superdelegates, I don't see them voting for Hillary. McCain could use Hillary's screwing over of Obama as a great talking point, and maybe even win the white house.

So funnily enough, the best chance for Democrats to win the Presidency seems Obama who, at least now the "establishment" i.e. the superelegates don't seem to want. And the best chance for Republicans to win is McCain, who is as anti-establishment as it gets, barring Ron Paul.