Week in Review: Superdelegates, Clemens Testimony
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
Senators Barack Obama and John McCain had a good week. They picked up primary victories in Washington, D.C. and Maryland and Virginia. And the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires tonight. The Senate approved a revision but this week the bill was stalled in the House.
Dan Schorr is off this week, so we're joined by Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist, joins us from New York.
Dorothy, thanks for being with us.
Ms. DOROTHY RABINOWITZ (Journalist, Wall Street Journal): I'm very glad to be here.
SIMON: What's your assessment? This week's primaries have this sharpened the situation in both parties?
Ms. RABINOWITZ: Every week, every minute seems to sharpen the situation in both parties. But now the fight on the Democrats' side is especially bitter because it's about superdelegates and about the regular pledged delegates and the pullout of Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who was pledged for Hillary Clinton, now says he's not pulling out and is up in the air.
The rancor is quite remarkable as both candidates have no way of getting to the full amount that's necessary, which is the 2,025 for delegates even if, you know, Mr. Obama wins every contest next. So it's about superdelegates. And Hillary Clinton is slightly ahead.
Then there's the whole question of the unseating of the Florida and Michigan delegates because they chose to put their primaries further ahead and they lost the seating of these delegates, which were crucial, some 300 and something of those. So now there's a question of whether they should re-hold those primaries and seat the delegates.
And underneath it all is the bitterness of the different media attitudes that are perceived between Senator Clinton and Mr. Obama. With the Clinton camp charging with some, I think, justice that the media has come down with a remarkable heaviness on Mrs. Clinton and has left with Mr. Obama without much scrutiny.
SIMON: Knowing the media as you do, is that going to last, though, as he has, for the past couple of weeks, perceived to be the frontrunner?
Ms. RABINOWITZ: We don't know. I have to say that the usual answer, I think, the right answer normally would be no. I don't think it would be less. After all it's a contest, but there's something very special about the adoration in which so many in the media seem to hold Mr. Obama.
Let me give you an example that may seem exceptional, but it's representative. And that is the wonderful one of Chris Matthews who, as you know, runs "Hardball" and is all over MSNBC, who said the night of the Potomac Primaries, said, you know, how much people feel about listening to an Obama speech. Like me, I felt a thrill running up my leg - a thrill running up my leg. I tried to imagine...
SIMON: I thought thrills ran up his spine but I can be corrected.
Ms. RABINOWITZ: Well, that's it. As the head of MSNBC News said, well, he wears his heart on his sleeve. And I'd say on his leg.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. RABINOWITZ: Now, it sounds really like an exceptional attitude. But when you listen to the full range of regular commentary on the all-news networks and elsewhere, it has that feeling of adoration. So I'm not so sure that hard media scrutiny is going to come out as in normal times.
SIMON: Let me get you to the other side of the aisle. What's presented in the media as a dust-up between John McCain and conservative Republicans. Do you see that as a real issue?
Ms. RABINOWITZ: Well, I don't see it as a real issue and I don't think I ever did. But, you know, the media are — and I say this as a member of it — but quite, you know, like dogs chewing a bone and fighting over a bone. And that single bone is a paradox. Every pundit has to say what they find is in the air. The thing is they're all saying the same thing.
"John McCain has got to win the conservatives or he is lost." Well, John McCain, despite all the dire warnings that attended every single one of his victories, which were considerable, they were greeted with gloom and doom, which seemed very strange when he rolled through California and took every conservative district. Twenty-three out of 25, including hard Republican Orange County. You would have thought that he'd lost to hear the punditry.
All one heard was Senator McCain has a lot to do, he's not out of the woods yet. The not out of the woods yet, the not out of the woods and that he has a hard row to hoe is not exactly the language you would normally expect...
Ms. RABINOWITZ: ...to be directed at the winner.
SIMON: Let me wind up asking. I know you're a baseball fan. Did you watch Roger Clemens give his testimony and Brian McNamee, his trainer?
Ms. RABINOWITZ: I did.
Ms. RABINOWITZ: I did watch it. And I had two responses to that. One was I looked at these eyes holding you in this deer caught in the light look and I felt nothing but sympathy knowing that in all probability he was absolutely lying. It did not help that the trainer, who was, I think, aptly described as a weasel, had actually saved needles and used bandages, whatever else paraphernalia he used over the years.
SIMON: Dorothy, we've got to save the second reaction. We've run out of time.
Ms. RABINOWITZ: All right.
SIMON: Thanks. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal.
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