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Obama And Superdelegate Accountability: What Are Reps. Maxine Waters and Diane Watson Waiting On? - Between the Lines

After the last “firewall” states fell last week in North Carolina and Indiana, many Democratic Party “Superdelegates” have now seen the writing on the wall. In case some of ‘em didn’t get the memo, Barack Obama WILL BE the Democratic Party nominee.

On May 6th, Obama, who was leading in every other imaginable category (states won, pledged delegates, popular vote), was behind in the superdelegate count by twelve. May 7th, it began raining superdelegates for Obama. By May 10th, Obama had overtaken Clinton in the superdelegate count. Party leaders have changed their tone. More are having “private conversations” with Hillary Clinton about “giving it up.” Clinton, instead, has chosen to continue her divisive ways, loaning herself money until she can get to California this week - where all candidates find economic relief from star-struck and power-struck donors. She continues to race-bait, using codified language about what “hard-working white voters” will or will not do, casting the subliminal “black shadow” over Barack’s prospects of being elected in the fall by xenophobic voters.

Superdelegates are “shocked” at the level Clinton have fallen to try to save her candidacy, as she seems intent on pulling down Barack Obama on her way down. Even her biggest cheerleader, New York House Representative, Charlie Rangel, is dismayed at Clinton’s failure to realize “the inevitable” and her behavior on the way out the door. Expect the superdelegate defections to continue as those that are elected officials seek to be more accountable, either to the interest of the party or two their constituencies, as scrutiny on superdelegates increase with passing of the last remaining primaries.

Some superdelegates continue to stand with Clinton, largely out of loyalty - though a few try to profess that she can still win - despite the fact that their congressional districts overwhelmingly supported Obama. Two of them, California House Members, Reps. Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, made their reputations as being legislators for the “people.” They represent the last two “black” congressional seats in the state (Black Congress Members Barbara Lee and Laura Richardson represent non-black majority districts). They also represent the only two congressional districts Barack Obama won outright in the California primary. These are probably two of the “blackest-talking” politicians in Congress, yet “the people” they represent, talked for Obama and voted for him too. Unlike Atlanta Congressman, John Lewis, and most recently, Newark Congressman, Donald Payne, who switched from Clinton to Obama - as previously committed superdelegates - out of being accountable to their constituents, Waters and Watson have yet to make a move. What the hell are they waiting on? Clinton to give up? Well that’s not going to happen.

Like the movie, Groundhog Day, we keep waking up to that bad dream called Hillary Clinton, on the morning after she just got thrashed and hearing the media double-talk us when Clinton doesn’t win in the way she needed to before the election, suddenly try to rationalize her irrational projections to victory. Hillary Clinton’s “path to victory” is to trip Barack Obama before he crosses the finish line. She’s shown she’s prepared to do that as long as the superdelegates hold out and Obama doesn’t get to 2025. Those superdelegates that see what Clinton is trying to do are refusing to play that game and are either deciding or defecting. Those superdelegates who stay with Clinton are playing a complicit role in the undermining of their own party. Those who are going against the will of their constituents are doubly complicit. As grassroots and race-conscious as both Waters and Watson claim to be, why would they continue to front off their constituencies like this? Part of the criticism of black elected officials is that they think they’re “Gods” and can do anything they want to do, and the community rarely holds them accountable. Well, at this critical juncture in history, it’s “accountability time.” It’s time to ask Reps. Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, what are they going to do? And why are they waiting when their constituencies have already “made it plain,” as Malcolm used to say, as to where they stand in their candidate choice?

Okay, we understand why they both went “Clinton.” Watson was a Clinton appointed ambassador, and Waters brokered her husband an ambassadorship (this is now a “car salesman” case study at Claremont Graduate University in the art of political deal-making). But that was Bill, not Hillary, and most of their political debts to Clinton should have been paid when they (the Congressional Black Caucus members) stood by his lying a** on the Lewinsky impeachment. Hillary a more vindictive player and I’m sure the pitch was that “we’re going to win, get on the bandwagon early or else.” Some people gotta' do what they gotta' do. But once it is obvious that the public interest is not being served, they should do what the people put them there to do, which is “represent constituent interest.” Both of these Congresswomen’s districts voted for Barack Obama in the 80 percentile - overwhelmingly affirming the change candidacy. Obviously, both Maxine Waters and Diane Watson think they are bigger than the constituents they represent. One of them said (I’ll let you guess which one) said she’s not going to be made to support anybody she doesn’t want to support. This is the same woman who invokes fear in anyone who has the audacity to go against candidates she wants you to support (after she makes you pay for her endorsement). She lost total credibility on the Clinton pick. It will certainly make people think twice about her future endorsements (a conversation still to be had). The point here is, if your constituents can’t change you, who can? It’s time to take that nonsense to task. Let’s start here and now. No politician is bigger than the voters that put them in office. And no “political deal” should go against constituent interest. What are they waiting for, the white woman to break (Feinstein and Boxer, and Speaker Pelosi) and to give them permission to the same? We always gotta' be more loyal than others do. There is really no excuse for Waters and Watson not defecting.

It is now clear that, like any other black man in America, they (the “hard-working” white voters Clinton is pandering to) are not going to hand Barack Obama anything. We all are going to have to help Barack get across the finish line. We are going to have to pick off superdelegates, one by one, to get to 2025 and what better place to start than with the superdelegates that should be in his camp anyway - because their constituents are. Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, what are waiting for? An invitation?

Well, here it is…time to switch to Barack Obama, so say YOUR constituents. Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the new book, Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is Click here to contact Dr. Samad.


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May 15, 2008
Issue 277

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