NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Senator Obama earlier this week, pissing off a host of Clinton and Obama supporters who thought NARAL was betraying Senator Clinton.
A common complaint is - when both candidates in the Democratic primary race are pro-choice (though some people would argue otherwise) - why not wait till the end of the Democratic primaries? Less-charitable explanations have NARAL trying to gain leverage with a future Obama administration - hence, the endorsement was out of pure self-interest. A similar argument was made by Ciccina on Kate Michelman's earlier endorsement of Senator Obama. See my reply on the Kate Michelman episode here.
The pattern of this week's endorsements was quite clear. First, though, let's backtrack. The race has gone on for so long even though it has been obvious for months that Senator Clinton would not be able to overtake Senator Obama in the delegate race (which is all that matters). For that, she needed two-thirds and, with each subsequent primary, ever-increasing fractions of the remaining delegates, right after the March contests. Yet, the race continued, and it became increasingly negative as Senator Clinton sought to destroy Senator Obama's electability and credibility (and yes, there were some attacks in response from the Obama camp). I am certain that if the positions were reversed, the campaign would have been over after March, with Senator Obama forced out of the race and - perhaps - offered a VP slot as consolation.
So to those who say why not wait till the contests are over - the battles may continue, but the war has been over for a while. Yet, Senator Clinton has been given every conceivable opportunity to beat Senator Obama - but she has not been able to make the sale even with the help of Jeremiah Wright and bittergate. Indiana and North Carolina were the last major primaries where she could have made a major dent in Senator Obama's pledged delegate lead. But Senator Obama effectively put paid to those hopes with a decisive victory in NC, and ran very, very close in Indiana. The remaining contests are largely symbolic, with either candidate heavily favored, and no chance of an upset. PR - which has the biggest remaining delegate haul - can't even vote in the November election.
All this while, Senator McCain has got a free ride, with almost no press scrutiny or Democratic exposure of his very conservative record, and consequently his poll performances are much better than that of a generic Republican. The Republicans have also been able to freely attack Senator Obama, with Senator Obama having to fight both Senators McCain and Clinton.
Given these circumstances, it is high time the Democrats came together and focused on winning in November. Part of the problem is making sure Senator Obama can win the votes of lower-income white Americans and women - after everything Senator Clinton's campaign has done to make sure these groups remain suspicious of Senator Obama, or feel - unjustly - that he has "stolen" the election from her. Hence the pattern in this week's endorsements. Earlier this week, Senator Edwards, who has some support among lower-income Whites, endorsed Senator Obama. And later, NARAL did the same, to make sure Women knew Senator Obama was OK on women's rights. Both Edwards and NARAL effectively told their followers that Senator Obama is the winner, fair-and-square. Sure, NARAL could have waited till June 3 - but then they would look a sore loser grudgingly coming around, rather than the call to Party unity that they now represent.
It must have been pretty hard for NARAL to make this choice, even more so than it must have been for John Edwards. But I am glad they had the guts to make the call, and admit openly what most sensible people realize - that Senator Obama is going to be the Democratic nominee. I just hope they don't weasel back out of their endorsement.