- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Howard Dean may need to find a new calling. The two-term Democratic National Committee chairman has made more enemies than friends as of late, and they seem to just keep piling up. Now former adviser to President Clinton and Democratic strategist, Lanny Davis is calling for Mr. Dean’s resignation since he claims the chairman put pressure on the North Carolina Democratic Party to cancel the April 27 debate in North Carolina with the Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Scheduled to be hosted and televised on CBS, the party cited “timing” and “logistical” reasons for calling off the debate that Mrs. Clinton had already committed to. They also fear that party “unity” is being eroded.

In a radio interview Tuesday night, Mr. Davis, a Hillary Clinton supporter, suggested that Mr. Dean’s actions were to favor Mr. Obama, who had refused to sign on to the event. Some attribute the bruising Mr. Obama received during last week’s ABC News debate in Pennsylvania for his apparent apprehension. While Mr. Obama has the charisma, delegate votes and financial advantage (having outspent Mrs. Clinton 3-to-1 in Pennsylvania), opponents suggest that he really isn’t ready for prime time and caves when faced with tough questions. But after 21 debates to date, others aren’t so sure what more voters can learn that they already haven’t. We say plenty.

Regardless of whether they do debate, did Mr. Dean cross the line? Has he compromised his neutrality as the national chairman? Mrs. Clinton certainly has had her dust-ups with Mr. Dean over primary re-do’s in Michigan and Florida and the role of the superdelegates.

According to Mr. Davis, Mr. Obama “tanked” the North Carolina debate, Mr. Dean backed him up, and as a result: “[Dean] compromised himself completely… and he should resign.”

That would certainly unify the party. But there has been no unity in determining next steps or how the party will use its superdelegates in the nominating process — and that also reflects on its leadership. The likely scenario now is that the two candidates will continue on through June at the earliest, then duke it out behind closed-doors with party leaders to decide a nominee before the August convention.

But voters have been clear about the role they feel the superdelegates should play in the process of “deciding” the nominee. A Rasmussen poll prior to Tuesday’s primary revealed that only 21 percent of Pennsylvanians actually think superdelegates are a good idea and 57 percent believe the Democratic superdelegates should honor primary election results — which by all accounts means Mr. Obama should be the nominee.

Despite Tuesday’s loss in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama remains the national frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination; he, like Mrs. Clinton, vows to push ahead through the nine remaining contests.

Riding a wave of momentum in a post-election television interview, Mrs. Clinton appealed to the party (and Mr. Obama) to reconsider the debate. That’s about as likely as Mr. Dean holding on to his chairmanship past November.

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