Next month’s Pennsylvania primary has taken on a disproportionate importance. In fact, as recently demonstrated by Jim Vandehei and Mike AllenClinton has almost no shot at winning the Democratic nomination. Obama has already won a majority of the states and has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates. His lead in the popular vote total is 700,000 and even if you count Michigan where his name was not on the ballot and Florida where he did not compete, he leads by 198,000. (This last number includes estimates for the four states that have not announced their popular vote totals: Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington. Obama won 3 of those four states.) In Ohio, where Clinton posted an impressive 55-45% win, her margin in the popular vote in that state was 229,873, so even if she wins Pennsylvania by a similarly large margin, she might eke out a small lead in the popular vote (including MI and FL) but Obama is likely to erase that margin with an anticipated strong showing in North Carolina. In a nutshell, the only way Clinton can win is if she can persuade enough super-delegates that Obama has no chance in November, and the only way she can do that is to win big in Pennsylvania and specifically to win big among white, ethnic Catholic voters who are traditionally swing voters. If Obama strikes out completely with these voters, super-delegates, many of whom will also be on the ballot next November, might see the logic in over-riding the pledged delegate count and handing Clinton the nomination. Of course, there is also the banana peel possibility. The imbroglio over Obama’s former pastor is exactly the kind of story that can turn large swaths of voters against Obama, especially ethnic Catholics. As mentioned last week, the difficulty in Pastor Wright’s sermons was not his discussion of the race issue but his diatribes against America. Ethnic Catholics, who strove mightily to enter the mainstream culture, do not take kindly to anyone saying, "God damn America." Clinton has benefitted from Obama’s pastor troubles. She needs to up the ante with a more robust dose of patriotism in her speeches. She should avail herself of the countless sites with historical resonance – Independence Hall, Gettysburg, Fort Duquesne – that dot the Pennsylvania landscape as backdrops for her speeches. Her indictment of George W. Bush should be voiced not in the traditional left-right dialectic, but instead give voice to the ways that Bush has ignored or diminished those things that make America special. Her criticism of the war should focus not on the bumbling performance of Rumsfeld, but on the lack of shared sacrifice that has gone into this war effort. In World War II, citizens rationed important goods and women worked in factories, taking the places vacated by their husbands who had enlisted. What has been asked of any of us except those in the military and their families to support the Iraq war? Hillary needs to wrap herself in the flag, denounce flag burning, make calls for shared sacrifice, do whatever it takes to say that she, and not the former congregant of Rev. Wright, is someone who will never be ambivalent about American greatness. She may alienate black voters even further. Her charges may lack merit: Does anyone really think Obama does not love this country? But, wrapping herself in patriotic glory will be no less effective just because the issue is a false one. Michael Sean Winters

Comments

Anonymous | 3/31/2008 - 9:32pm
I saw enough of the Clintons for eight years.Hypocrasy,opurtunism and mean spirtedness were the order of the day. I read a great deal about patriotism. Where are they? The Clintons? The Bush cabal,(who by the way I voted for in 2000).The only proven patriot of the entire bunch is McCain, whose day unfortunately has passed thanks to the Neo Cons and an agenda that the Republican Party base demands. I feel Obama is the first time I've had a choice since Ross Perot got it right. Who by the way was a patriot
Anonymous | 3/27/2008 - 11:06am
I am a McCain supporter. I admire him for his courage of his convictions and his Vietnam heroism. Lest we forget: "There is no greater love than those who would lay down his life for his friends." I am a life-time Catholic, but I fail to understand how the Catholic Church condemns Communism but support the growth of Socialism which is the path eventually to Communism. I know there are certain elements of "personal socialism" that are good. Government socialism is very dangerous--a.k.a Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama. Be watchful and pray for guidance that you are doing the right thing for our great and blessed nation. Mrs. Barrs
Anonymous | 3/27/2008 - 7:43am
Mr. Winters asks the rhetorical question,"does anyone think Obama does not love this country"? I hope he does. His wife's slip of the tongue indicated great disdain for the U.S. His pastor is a racist, in my view. What about Obama himself? We still don't know the man! I hope that after he gets the nomination, the Republicans don't uncover damaging info. about him, causing the electorate to vote for a warmongering hypocrite like John McCain. Its too bad the media don't do their job! We know Hillary, warts and all. She would be a good president. I am very sad that the U.S. is so backward that it can't imagine a woman at the helm. Perhaps this fiasco will be a wake up call to American women. We have a long way to go before we are equal.
Anonymous | 3/26/2008 - 12:28am
The Limbaugh story is mostly myth. He came out with that story after it was exposed that some republicans had been doing just the opposite of what Limbaugh now claims. Republicans have been voting in large numbers for Barack Obama in the DEMOCRATIC open primaries, and gaming the DEMOCRATIC caucuses from day one. Limbaugh is using reverse psychology on you to cover up. The REPUBLICANS have been trying to choose the weakest DEMOCRATIC candidate to run against in November. And also to prevent the possibility of a Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama DREAM TEAM match up. I am really surprised the media has not picked this fact up with all their experts, and analyst. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. This is why Obama has mostly only been able to win red state caucuses, and primaries. And no big blue states primaries. If Obama is the democratic nominee for the national election in November he will be slaughtered. Because the Republican vote cheating help will suddenly evaporate. Hillary Clinton has actually already won the democratic nomination if you remove the republican vote fraud. Does this really surprise anyone after the 2000 and 2004 elections. :-( They have no respect for the constitution, or the democratic process. They have no SHAME!!! jacksmith...
Anonymous | 4/1/2008 - 2:44am
Frankly, none of the candidates are good ones in terms of Catholic social teaching, and I don't know why anyone is saying the facts. The candidates that were were not supported by the all-important media--who are the instigators of who we are voting for. I vote for whom I please and I WILL vote for whom I please--so I will write him in--and will be a good Catholic to the end, no matter WHAT the media tells me to do. Will this be effective? For my soul--YES! (And I did my part for campaigning, too!) For my country--well, I pray for the poor miserable people that are run-over by the media who orchestrates who THEY vote for.
Anonymous | 3/26/2008 - 8:34pm
I am an Obama guy and a fanatic Catholic to boot. I also would vote for Clinton, any day. The Republican machine is as bad as Jock says it is but Obama is an overwhelmingly attractive candidate. All the Catholic Democrats I know like both candidates. I wish the press would start exposing McCain for the shallow mind he has. I think Americans are starting to get over their nationalism (patriotism?) and catching up with the rest of the world. After a long, sad moronic blindness, first by Reagan and the by this guy Bush.
Anonymous | 3/27/2008 - 2:45pm
I just don't get where the "fanatic Catholic" joleary, jack smith's misguided rhetoric, and lastly Ms. lunn's tired, old, way overused feminism approach is coming from. You all are certainly entitled to your opinions, however, what you are expressing does not sound Catholic or Christian. I think you would be best served by getting out your Bibles for some re-education. God bless you all and may you be given the give of wisdom. Barbara Barrs
Anonymous | 3/27/2008 - 2:20pm
Mr. Winter should work for the Clinton campaign with such great advice if he doesn't do so already. Mr. Winter also insults ethnic Catholics declaring they can be led to the polls to vote for Senator Clinton like sheep through a false impression of patriotism. Catholics in states that have already had their primaries and caucuses have already overwhelmingly voted for Senator Clinton in most cases long before the Rev. Wright controversy. "America" should examine why so many Catholics have made the choice of Clinton over Obama. As a member of a central city Catholic parish in Milwaukee comprised overwhelmingly by Black Catholics I fear we are not going to like the answers. However we need to be open and reflective in our dialogue as to our shortcomings as Church. Of the three major candidates remaining Senator Obama, shortcomings and all, comes closest to encompassing many of the principles we are called to live in our own understanding of Catholic social teaching.
Anonymous | 3/27/2008 - 12:14pm
How can you favor Obama and/or Clintion when they are pro choice and even voted against the partial birth abortion ban. That is inconsistant with the consistant life ethic