In a sign that the spin war over the significance of super-delegates is underway in earnest, Harold Ickes told assorted Hillary supporters on a private conference call yesterday that the campaign wants them to start referring to super-delegates as "automatic delegates," according to someone on the call.

The person I spoke to paraphrases Ickes, who is spearheading Hillary's super-delegate hunt, this way: "We're no longer using the phrase super delegates. It creates a wrong impression. They're called automatic delegates. Because that's what they are."

The worry appears to be that the phrase "super-delegates" implies that "they have super-powers or super influence when they don't," the source says, describing Ickes' thinking. In other words, the phrase suggests that they have greater than average clout and that they have the power to overrule the democratic process, giving it the taint of back-room power politics.

The new term "automatic delegates" appears to be ostensibly a reference to the fact that these folks are super-delegates automatically, by virtue of their office or position.

What an amazing load of rubbish. They're called "super-delegates" because that's what they've always been called. (And they do, after all, have "the power to overrule the democratic process.") Moreover, if I heard the phrase "automatic delegates" I would assume it meant the very opposite of what it does--that is, delegates who get assigned to one candidate or the other on the basis of state votes, rather than nondemocratic free-floaters--and I sincerely doubt that this confusing impact of Ickes's chosen nomenclature is anything but intentional.

On the other hand, I suppose I should be glad that Ickes didn't tell supporters that from here on out he expected them to refer to super-delegates as "decent, ordinary folk," "real Americans," or "the will of the voters."

--Christopher Orr