About Time

So, I initially expected Bill Richardson to come out and endorse Obama a very, very long time ago.  Or, at least, it felt like a very long time ago given that, with how this primary has proceeded, a week feels like an eternity.  But, I suppose better late than never, and all things considered, Richardson could have picked a worse time to decide to endorse Obama.

For a while, it was vogue for partisans behind both candidates to suggest that an endorsement by either Edwards or Richardson had a limited shelf life of significance.  If either waited too long, they risked losing any semblance of relevance.  This frame of mind itself, though, is only valid if the dynamics of the race themselves remained static which they don’t.

As it turns out, with the Wright fiasco still lingering, some entities desperate to keep it alive at all costs, endorsements by Richardson and Edwards continue to remain incredibly important as their impact is twofold.

On one level, high profile endorsements such as these have the basic effect of shifting the news cycle.  I still think it will be a week or two before things stop getting reported through a Wright lens, but at least Richardson’s endorsement will provide some positive news in what has been a harrowing time for the campaign.  On another level, this gives us some insight into how the Super Delegates are watching this race and the events that have recently unfolded.

We’re going to have to wait until Richardson makes the actual endorsement later today before we fully understand the messaging he brings to the election, but I believe it will outline at least in part the decision that Super Delegates have before them now.

That decision is also largely viewed through the Wright lens at this time: do they see only a candidate that has been badly wounded, or do they see how that candidate has handled controversy with unmatched courage and grace?  If they see only the former, then Obama’s chances are going to grow more grim as we carry on.  If, on the other hand, they see the latter, than I think that despite the feeling that Obama is in trouble now, he will come out the other end of this much stronger than he ever was before.

After all, no candidate is perfect, and in the very best of us, adversity is not that which destroys us, but that by which our greatness is measured.

In truth, regardless of the desperation of the moment, I think there are some favorable indications that Obama will ultimately recover from this moment.  He’s taken a bit of a hit in the polls, but not a fatal one, and unlike Hillary Clinton who has had to struggle to maintain her Super Delegate lead, Obama has managed to hold on to his SD count without suffering any losses.

Richardson could help shore up Obama’s support.

Further, Richardson’s going to help in wooing other Super Delegates, as well as hopefully attracting members of the Latino community who may be more open to Obama’s address of racial unity than those in the white community.

All in all, I’ve gotten used to coming to grips with the idea that endorsements haven’t really mattered much.  Beyond resulting in a positive news cycle for a couple of days, they haven’t swung any states or provided any measure of insurmountable momentum.  But given the context of right now, Richardson’s faith in Obama during a time of tribulation perhaps lends more weight to this endorsement than any endorsement we’ve seen thus far.

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