Here's a look at this week's print column.
Pennsylvania is off to the races. In more ways than one.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is once again threatening to flip the “on-again, off-again” importance of the Pennsylvania Primary into the “off” position with his incredible streak of 10 straight primary wins.
Let’s review. Initially, voices across Pennsylvania were raised in anger as we sat idly by and watched a parade of voters in other states stroll into the voting booths and have their voices noted in presidential primaries.
About all Keystone State voters could do was stew about the late Pennsylvania Primary on April 22. It was widely believed that would be too late to have much influence on the two parties’ nominees.
Then a funny thing happened. Obama started winning. And he hasn’t stopped. The pundits looked at the calendar and started circling the April 22 fireworks in Pennsylvania. Suddenly, at least for Democrats, people were calling the Keystone State as the “Key” to the nomination.
But Obama didn’t get the message. He kept right on winning. The guy is hotter than the Phillies preseason expectations.
Now, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who most early polls showed with a commanding national lead over Obama, is trying desperately to avoid becoming roadkill under the Barack Express.
Most experts believe she needs to win big on March 4 in Ohio and Texas to keep her campaign viable. If she does, then all eyes will turn to Pennsylvania.
All tongues, as well.
As you might expect, the demarcation lines are being drawn across the state.
In case you haven’t noticed, regardless of who emerges victorious in the Democratic donnybrook, the party will make some history, nominating either the first woman or first African-American to lead a major party ticket in U.S. history.
That has not escaped our fearless governor, Ed Rendell. “Fast Eddie” is firmly in Hillary’s camp. During a recent sit-down with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he pointed out his belief that some white Pennsylvanians simply will not vote for Obama because he is black.
This is where you insert the memorable line uttered by James Carville in describing Pennsylvania as being Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.
Very funny. I think Rendell was foolish for uttering such a remark, knowing full well the brouhaha that would inevitably follow.
I’d like to think we’re better than that. I’d like to think this contest will not be decided by gender or the color of a candidate’s skin.
But there’s a part of me that believes that whatever the numbers, there are indeed people who think exactly as Rendell opined.
Last week, I talked to several of them.
On Tuesday, we led the paper with a story on several Delaware County Democratic leaders announcing their support for Obama. It dominated our front page, with a picture of the candidate, as well as one from a local rally held in the county to push his candidacy. The lead headline screamed, “Obama-Mania.”
Several readers called to complain about our coverage. They didn’t like the front page, or the story inside for that matter. They believed it was inaccurate and biased in favor of Obama.
I had an idea where this was going. I wasn’t wrong.
“Are you the person responsible for the front page?” one gentleman asked. I assured him I was. “I’m surprised,” he replied. “You should find a new line of work. Your headline is wrong.”
I took another look at it and then asked him what he meant.
“You say, ‘Delco Democratic leaders line up behind the man from Illinois.’ That’s not correct. These people are all from Chester.”
Now I understood. Unfortunately.
Our lead story indicated county Democratic Chairman Cliff Wilson was backing Obama. He was joined by state Rep. Bryan Lentz, from Swarthmore, and party First Vice Chairman Tony Campisi, or Marple.
It was not a formal endorsement. It wasn’t even unanimous. Party Vice Chairman Mary Ellen Balchunis is backing Clinton. So is U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.
We had a second story on a rally held by Wilson and others that night. It was held in Chester. The reader did not try to hide the connection he was making.
Several other callers made a similar argument. It wasn’t the party leaders backing Obama, it was just people in Chester. This despite the fact that the story clearly points out the diversity of the crowd in attendance, that they arrived in Chester from Springfield, Upper Darby, Norwood and Marple to voice their support for the senator from Illinois.
Having said this, I will tell you I have reservations of my own concerning Obama. And Clinton as well, for that matter. But they have nothing to do with the color of his skin or her gender.
The campaign trail is likely to get even bumpier over the next two months. My hope is that we can rise above such matters. My fear is that we’ll do just the opposite.
Race to the finish? Sounds about right.Philip E. Heron is editor of the Daily Times. Call him at (610) 622-8818. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To visit his daily blog, the Heron’s Nest, go to www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/philh/blog.html.