COMMENTS: Split Decision Expected

Normally a Tuesday during primary season would have been dominated by Campaign 2008. It was not only Edward Kennedy's diagnosis that pushed the votes in Oregon and Kentucky down the news agenda; the contest itself has diminishing drama. NBC's Tim Russert (no link) explained why: he not only assumed a split decision--Barack Obama to win in Oregon, Hillary Rodham Clinton in Kentucky--he also stated with confidence that she would add 55 delegates and he 48. Her net gain, he argued, was not nearly as important as he abiding lead. He would need 61 delegates to secure the nomination with 86 available in three remaining contests; she would need 246, "meaning the only way she could win the nomination is if practically every undeclared superdelegate" chose her.

On ABC, George Stephanopoulos played along with Rodham Clinton's scenario for winning all those superdelegates. First she persuades the Democratic National Committee to reverse itself and count the votes from the disqualified primaries in Florida and Michigan; next she adds those states to the running total of popular votes cast; and "that will give her an argument for the superdelegates." Stephanopoulos pointed out the flaw in that logic: "The superdelegates are all going the way of Obama right now."

All three networks offered their current estimate of the delegates standings going into Tuesday's voting: Obama 1917 (NBC), 1916 (ABC), 1911 (CBS); Rodham Clinton 1725 (NBC), 1715 (CBS), 1711 (ABC).

CBS had Jim Axelrod (no link) with the Rodham Clinton campaign in Kentucky where she is 'expected to win big" and Dean Reynolds following Obama who was planning "no crowing" about his expected haul of delegates. On NBC, Ron Allen picked up on the latest spin from husband Bill to explain his candidate wife's second place. The former President "strongly suggested her bid for the White House was hurt by the reluctance of some Americans to accept a woman as President." Allen repeated--but did not evaluate--Clinton's casual comment. Surely Rodham Clinton's gender has been a major factor in her appeal to women voters. Can it really be true that such a huge female boost was a net liability, canceled out by the sexism of some men? Can the former President back up his low opinion of his own gender? Allen should either have asked for evidence or not treated such musings as newsworthy.


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