…And what it is ain’t exactly clear.
African American superdelegates are complaining that they are being “targetted, harassed and threatened” to switch from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, according to a story at Politico.com.
The story quotes several black Congressional superdelegates who say they are being targetted.
Clinton is running very polished, but fear-based ads, featuring children, ominous music and a heavy-handed narrator.
At the same time, Obama’s Ohio climb has stalled.
In Texas, he is leading, but not enough to guarantee a win.
In short, the nastiness is coming to the fore and the Democratic Party’s veneer of cohesion and “togetherness” is starting to fade.
It is no doubt in part because the primary race is reaching a crescendo.
But the more indirect reason these calls and threats are happening is something called 527s.
I’ve mentioned these groups before. They are named after the section in the tax code that allows these groups to exist.
Basically, they are unaffiliated advocacy groups that operate predominantly during elections.
They do not report who funds them. They do not have to abide by any of the rules that politicians abide by.
And yet they are explicitly political tools.
There has been a lot of talk that Clinton has used these groups, and she has. But that’s not a surprise.
What is happening now is that groups like Colorofchange.org are doing dirty work for Obama.
They are sending threatening e-mails and phone calls to superdelegates backing Clinton, trying to get them to switch to Obama for racial reasons.
Nobody I’ve heard or seen in the media believes these groups are operating with the support of Obama’s campaign.
But in politics, perception is infinitely more important than reality.
In other words, the 527s that politicians put in the tax code to act as attack dogs have gotten off the leash.
They are now being set up by less reputable groups and are doing what politicians always feared but hoped would never actually happen — they taking the political process out of the hands of those directly involved and putting it in the hands of those who have money and lurk in the shadows of American politics.
It is nasty stuff, and because of his message of hope and change, Obama is particularly susceptible to any shift in perception that he may be “just like all the rest.”
That is, he has farther to fall, if he gets painted with the taint of these 527s.
Perhaps that this is happening now will only further enhance Obama’s message about a need for change.
Perhaps it will give Clinton a bit of a push and allow to extend this race beyond March 4th.
Perhaps it will lead to changes in the tax code.
But those are all “perhaps” scenarios.
The only real, factual scenario is that the Democrats will have some serious making up to do, after this is all done.
And if Clinton does well enough to carry on past March 4th, then the making up may not be possible in time for a general election victory in November.
Michael Hale is a former journalist and political hack who is not in the least bit surprised that the US Tax Code has engendered actual evil. Read his blog at www.north60hale.blogspot.com/