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Richelieu: Damage Assessment

1:05 PM, May 1, 2008 • By RICHELIEU
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A few thoughts on the good Rev. Wright. First, what fun this is. Nothing like a candidate's crank associate going off on an egocentric rant in front of the media to spice up a political campaign. Though I'm not sure it will be as ultimately bad for Obama as it now appears since he got the excuse he needed to finally throw the toxic Rev. Wright under the bus. Obama was sloppy about it and late, but he now has the right political answer to Wright: I'm finished with him. And while GOP hearts were undoubtedly warmed by the whole fiasco, the odds are that Rev. Wright is now an issue in decline; some damage done but little chance he'll be the big factor in October among swing voters who will decide the election.

Still, Obama's once formidable halo is now badly tarnished. Will it be a game-changer in the primary? In my view, probably not. But should Obama lose NC and Indiana, Mrs. Clinton will have a chance to claim a big reversal and make a long-shot but still credible attempt at a coup inside the party. That would force the Super Delegate class of the Democratic party into an extremely painful decision: either deny Obama the nomination and suffer a fratricidal disaster inside the party or ride along into the Guns of September and October with the increasingly hobbled Barack Obama. Either way, McCain is set up to launch a remarkably competitive Republican candidacy in this most unusual political year. Will the lobbyist-heavy McCain campaign then have the political courage to let McCain be McCain and brave the intra-party pain of a big defining Sister Souljah moment with GOP orthodoxy? Only that will recapture the anti-GOP voters McCain needs, and win the election.