Tuesday, March 18, 2008

These Are Embarrassing Days to Be a Democrat

I feel like I'm in fourth grade, and our teacher agreed to leave us alone for 10 minutes while she spoke to the principal. And the second she left the room, while most of us were behaving, two of the destined-for-life-behind-a-fast-food-counter kids lit the teacher's coat on fire. Of course, the teacher would never trust us alone again.

I feel that way because I am a Democrat. More specifically, I am a New York Democrat.

I have watched in horror since Super Tuesday as Hillary Clinton has done everything short of Photoshopping photos of Barack Obama having sex with Elliot Spitzer and Ashley Alexandra Dupre to destroy any chance Obama had of beating John McCain in November (even though, more and more, it has become apparent that she cannot secure the nomination without breaking the party in the process, which I discussed in my March 5 article). And, obviously, it keeps getting worse.

It's not bad enough that Spitzer, who, in 2006, picked up nearly 70 percent of the vote and liberated the governor's house from 12 years of Republican occupation, put together an arrogant and careless first year in office. No, he had to inflate his federal-deficit-sized hubris to comic proportions and make multiple visits to prostitutes through an escort service. On that had a Web site. Using his real address.

Then, for a few days, we Democrats started to think to ourselves that it might be all right. The new governor, David Paterson, arrived with a movie-of-the week worthy back story. He was the first African American governor in New York, and the first legally blind governor anywhere. Paterson was so well-liked when he was the minority leader in the state senate that he maintained a good relationship with senate majority leader Joseph Bruno, even though Paterson's main goal was taking back the chamber for the Democrats. We Democrats allowed ourselves to think that, maybe, just maybe, this wall all for the best.

And then, a day after Paterson was sworn in and gave a widely lauded speech to the gathered dignitaries, he admitted that from 1999 to 2001, he and his wife had affairs. I'm not judging the man, but it certainly doesn't help the image of Democrats in New York.

You might think that the Spitzer/Paterson follies would be my low point for the week, but, oddly enough, for me, it got only worse today.

It was reported today that a poll showed Clinton had widened her lead over Obama in Pennsylvania. Her lead jumped from six points on February 27 (49% to 43%) to 12 points yesterday (53% to 41%). As I discussed on March 5, it is virtually impossible for Clinton to catch Obama in pledged delegates, and it is extremely likely that the delegate difference when the process is over will roughly approximate where it is now. So, only one of two things can happen. Obama can get the nomination. Or Clinton can get the nomination, but only by persuading superdelegates to vote for her, which would mean her prevailing despite winning fewer delegates, votes and states. Such an eventuality would be ruinous for the party.

As a result, each piece of positive news for Clinton, and each day that her candidacy remains active, is terrible news for Democrats who want to win the general election in November.

Meanwhile, Obama has had to contend with the omnipresent images on television of the man who baptized his children and performed his wedding ceremony bashing white people and supporting Palestinians. And no, it's not just Fox News, but the allegedly (what a laugh) liberal news outlets like CNN that have given Jeremiah Wright more air time than an "American Idol" contestant.

Not surprisingly, in an economic and political climate that should have the Democrats in a commanding position in to win in November, the latest polls have Clinton and Obama virtually tied with McCain. Can you imagine what the polls would say if the economy was going strong and things were peachy keen in Iraq? It's scary to consider.

If Clinton and Spitzer were the fourth graders in the teacher-free classroom, they wouldn't have set the teacher's coat on fire. No, more likely, they would have ignited a nuclear weapon in the middle of the class. Because that's the level of destruction they are inflicting on their party.

It's an embarrassing time to be a Democrat. In fact, the only thing that could be more embarrassing would be to be a Republican.