The Note: Cruelest Cuts


If you're looking for signals that the Clintons may have overstayed their welcome and overplayed their hand (and that some superdelegates like to dream just as much as their constituents) pay attention to a man who knows the power of symbolic gestures.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is no ordinary superdelegate (oxymoron alert). He brings with him the scars of the civil rights movement, the aspirations of his voters, and a desire for comity within his party in making it known that he (even maybe) plans to cast his vote at the convention for Sen. Barack Obama, not Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the candidate he had endorsed.

"Something is happening in America, and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap," Lewis tells The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Patrick Healy, (maybe/probably) joining Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., as a superdelegate who's making a late switch.


Per Zeleny and Healy, Lewis is offering himself up as peacemaker -- and this is not the kind of piece Camp Clinton wants. "He also said he and other lawmakers would meet in the coming days to decide how they intended to weigh in on the nominating fight," they write.

"The comments by Mr. Lewis underscored a growing sentiment among some of the party's black leaders that they should not stand in the way of Mr. Obama's historic quest for the nomination and should not go against the will of their constituents."

He may not have switched yet -- a Lewis spokesman tells The Washington Post that he's only contemplating a defection, and hasn't made up his mind yet -- but the import has already been felt.

As the lobbying picks up among superdelegates who are members of Congress, this is what the Clintons reap for what they sowed in South Carolina, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., tells ABC's Jake Tapper.

"Those of us who live in the South especially, we know the code words when we hear them, and we understand the tone. People felt some of that was going on and they reacted to it in a very bitter way," Clyburn says.

Clyburn took particular offense to former President Bill Clinton's Election-Day comparison of Obama to Jesse Jackson: "It was an attempt to isolate the ethnicity of the candidate," he tells Tapper.

The Lewis defection "is a huge blow to the Clinton campaign," ABC's George Stephanopoulos reported on "Good Morning America" Friday. "If the superdelegates start to crumble, start to defect on Hillary Clinton, she's going to have a very, very uphill fight -- almost an impossible fight -- to get this nomination."

There's a direction to the campaign, with trajectories that savvy politicians recognize. Try to discern a pattern in scattershot (only mostly unrelated) events:

- The SEIU on Friday will endorse Obama, joining the United Food and Commercial Workers in handing Obama key union support, now that John Edwards is out of the race.

- A Clinton will spend at least part of every day this month shaking the money tree.

- The campaign is being outmaneuvered on the ad front.

- Happy Hillaryland has a "sense of melancholy" about it -- not to mention overt tension amid " 'increasing frustration' with Mark Penn, Clinton's campaign strategist and pollster, and the closest thing to a Karl Rove-type figure within the campaign," per ABC's Kate Snow and Jennifer Parker.

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