Democrats have built a coalition based upon a number of different interest groups (rather than Americans committed to particular transcendent ideals) and also to the intensity of support within those interest groups. The conflict between Mrs. Bill Clinton and Senator Obama highlights the dangers of this long term strategy. Both constituencies are hyper-sensitive and both are an indispensable part of the Democrat coalition.
Hillary recently played the "hurt girl" card, winning New Hampshire when she appeared to be losing there. Now Hillary is facing, whether through Obama or not, the "offended black" card. Women are the predominant part of the Democrat coalition (although women are much less likely to be reflexively Democrat than any other part of that coalition.) Blacks represent about one fifth of the Democrats in the general election, much more in the primaries, and are the most consistently Democrat voters in the land.
It is ironic that the Republican Party was the author of the enfranchisement of women, the emancipation of blacks, the principal civil rights act still used in litigation by minorities, and that the Democrat Party stubbornly resisted equal civil and political rights for blacks for almost a century and that it also was so adamant against giving women the vote that suffragettes threatened a wholesale support of Republicans less than a century ago.
It is also tragic that thirty-six years after the "Women's Movement" began and forty-three years after the last major civil rights bills were passed, there are large numbers of blacks and significant numbers of women who actually believe that they remain "victims." This is a direct consequence of Leftists in the Democrat Party insuring that women and blacks remained perpetually manacled to the slave chains of victimhood.
The actual indifference of Leftists to women is manifest in their silence when the whole, awful catalog of Clinton's violence against women was revealed. Democrats supported unconstitutional, gender-specific laws like the "Violence Against Women Act," but when individual women were victims of violence and intimidation by the chief law enforcement officer in the republic, that was unimportant. Women, as a class, were votes; women as people were nothing.
Republicans are often accused of not reaching out to blacks, yet in 2006 black Republicans carried the party banner for governor or senator in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. President Bush has brought blacks into the pinnacle of power in his administration. Noble and wise blacks, like Clarence Thomas, have been elevated to the apex of judicial power. These good and intelligent leaders have been ignored by the Left, because they are not owned by the Left.
One of the fundamental problems with being a huge coalition of permanently aggrieved people, instead of a political party of certain principles, is that political power is a zero sum game. Because all Democrats want power and because the majority of Democrats are white, this means that whites are going to get the lion's share of political power in the Democrat Party. Likewise, because most politically active people are men, it is also true that men are going to have the lion's share of power in the Democrat Party.
This means that members of aggrieved groups, particularly those who can be taken for granted as automatically Democrat (black voters and feminist voters), can be treated with disdain within the Democrat Party. So Hillary does not need to worry about denigrating Dr. King, except insofar as it costs her votes in the Democrat primary, and Obama does not need to worry about miffing feminist voters, except insofar as it costs him votes in the Democrat primary.
The only danger to either candidate beyond the Democrat nomination process is this: if the quiet battle for first place between feminists and black voters simmers and then boils, the group within the Democrat Party that loses the battle may choose, in significant numbers, to simply stay home in November. If that happens, it presents a grand opening for the Republican Party (not just the Republican presidential nominee.)
Black voters and feminist voters constitute each an important part of the broad coalition that Democrats need, not only to win the presidency, but also to win House and Senate races, gubernatorial races and state legislative races. If significant numbers of black voters stay home because they feel Obama was ill used or if significant numbers of feminist voters stay home because they fell Hillary was mistreated, then by default Republicans could make serious gains across the board. That is the political risk of being a party of groups instead of principles.