In The Satanic Verses, Rushdie asks a question of the leaders of Iran's Islamic revolution - what kind of idea are you when you win? It was a way to ask how a winning faction establishes and maintains legitimacy in an environment where they are not numerically dominant and may not even be a majority. The same question needs to be asked of the Obama campaign.
What kind of an idea, at this point, is Barack Obama?
All around Left Blogistan, Obamacans are reveling in the seeming victory of the RBC ruling and are disdainfully telling Hillary and her supporters that they need to fall in line, get with the program, and otherwise show that we're worthy of being part of Whole Foods Nation. Ezra Klein pompously warns Hillary: "[There is an] authentic, deep anger among Clinton supporters. And that's not a problem the Rules Committee can resolve. This one is up to Clinton herself."
The way in which a candidate or faction handles a victory tells us important things about how they will govern. At present, the parallels between Obama's claim of a nomination victory and George W. Bush's claim of victory in Florida are shocking. The onus for unifying the country was placed on Gore and specifically for Gore to capitulate before a full and final vote count was performed. Gore's behavior was held up to ridicule and criticism for having the audacity to defend his win against a background of corruption and intimidation. No one so much as hinted that the legitimacy of Bush's win was contingent upon his behavior in victory. He acted as though he had won by a landslide with an enourmous popular mandate, instead of by suppressing votes in Florida.
Obama's popular vote count is less than Hillary's (no, Michigan doesn't count for him - he didn't ask for their votes and he rejected attempts to rectify the situation) and his delegate count is contingent on illegal allocations from Michigan, discounted votes in Florida and overrepresentation of anti-democratic caucuses. He does not command some 2-1 support margin, but a few equivocal percentage points that are still not certain given that the super delegate allocation can change between now and August.
We do not live in a rotton borough where the votes are his to harvest. He is not entitled to the support of those who did not vote for him. He has to ask for those votes and he has to earn them. His job is to make himself an appealing candidate to the people he has spent months dismissing and insulting.
The deep problem of Obama's campaign is that he and his supporters do not want to face the political reality of their own conflicting desires. They both want to sweep to victory in November and they want to purge the party of anything connected to the Clintons, which includes all of the voting contituencies represented by that amazing and talented duo. The failure of the Unity Pony stems directly from that fantasy of majority status without majority support and the political work and compromises that go with cultivating that support. Thus, their model for unity is unanimity through elimination, purging the ranks of the unclean and unbelievers.
They will not acknowledge that Hilalry is a legitimate political actor and reduce her to an inhuman monster and enemy. They will not acknowledge that her supporters have sound, rational reasons for our support, and reduce us to mindless fools and spoils of war. They shift blame for their own choices and actions onto us and expect that we will cater to their whims.
With every arrogant demand that we capitulate to Obama's desires, the idea of an Obama presidency becomes just that much less legitimate.
Previous posts on Obama's political legitimacy: