I've been amazed and disgusted watching the Democrats crawl toward the finish line. Yesterday's decision about Michigan and Florida may have made it possible to end the Obama/Clinton mudfest, but Clinton is still reserving the right to appeal the decision. There are so many disgusting parts of the whole mess:

  • Clinton proposing that the votes be taken at their face, even though Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan because he did what they both agreed to do: not run in those states,
  • Clinton supporting that proposal by comparing this mess to Zimbabwe,
  • The crazy primary scheduling process that caused the problem in the first place,
  • Michigan and Florida residents blaming the DNC when the action was taken by their own state parties, and consequences were made very clear from the beginning.

And the funniest part of all? Clinton supporters claiming they'll vote for McCain if the delegates aren't reinstated. One voter was quoted as saying she'd vote for McCain because she couldn't stick with a party that would do this to Michigan and Florida. Guess what? The Republican party made the exact same decision, for the exact same reasons, they just didn't get the news coverage because it didn't affect the outcome. BTW: I'd give a link to a press release about the RNC decision, but their website seems to be all Obama all the time, so there's no mention of it there. The party rules seem pretty clear, though:

16.a.1: If a state or state party violates the Rules of the Republican Party relating to the timing of the selection process resulting in the election of delegates or alternate delegates to the national convention before the call to the national convention is issued, then the number of delegates to the national convention from that state shall be reduced by fifty percent (50%), and the corresponding alternate delegates shall also be reduced.

and the Democrat's rules are just as unambiguous. In fact, after reading these two clauses, I don't understand why the original threat was to seat no delegates, or why there had to be any "agreement" about what to do at all. After all the turmoil, the parties did just what they had said they would do over a year ago.

Clinton voters switching to McCain is either stupidity or spite, neither of which is a good reason to vote for president. Actually, come to think of it, maybe Clinton supporters will feel at home in the GOP. What with saying anything to win, whining about the slant of the media, and exploiting electoral confusion to get ahead, they might feel right at home in Bush's party.

I just hope that Clinton will read the writing on the wall and do the right thing soon. She has a chance here to save her reputation by doing what is good for the party, though if she clings to the rock face by her fingernails much longer, it's going to be very difficult for her to come out of this looking good.

tagged: » 14 reactions

Comments

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Jonathan LaCour 7:58 AM on 2 Jun 2008

I couldn't agree with you any more Ned. Very insightful post.

What made me the most sick is the circus that the DNC Rules Committee meeting turned into, all at the hands of Clinton supporters. The crowd was packed by the Clinton campaign with people who chose to shout obscenities, boo and hiss at the mention of Barack Obama, and act like a bunch of toddlers kicking and screaming because they didn't get what they want. Hillary's campaign of inevitability is going to come to an end soon, and the further she takes this, the more crippled she'll be upon returning to the Senate.

By continuing her campaign, she is proving to the country that she's a self-serving, self-entitled, and prideful woman, with a total lack of honesty and integrity.

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johnmc 8:49 AM on 2 Jun 2008

Ned, you miss a very important issue about the rules. The Democrats for years have been screaming 'count every vote'. So when the rubber meets the road to support that they end up with 50% representation for one State and a gerrymandered vote count in another State. Another words the Democrats have a Big Tent but some occupiers of the tent are more equal than others. I might also point out that had this been the general election the actions of the Democrats would have been patently illegal.

As to the Clintons. It amazes me that in all these years rank and file Democrats still hold to the belief that the Clintons are party animals. They are not. They use the party to their own ends. But if those ends do not fit the Clinton narrative then Hell with the party in Clinton's view. How else does one explain her continued fight for nomination? She will most likely extend her political scorched earth policy all the way to Denver. She will relent only when Obama/Party pay off her debts and agree to a political payoff of her choosing.

Jonathon, Clinton on returning to the Senate will have gained power. Of the 100 holding sway in the Senate Only she, Obama and McCain can hold up a card saying X millions voted for me. The other 97 Senators will not have that stamp of approval from the voters. Power therefore will gravitate to her.

The more damaging for Obama is if he loses big his power base will be swept away and when his term in the Senate ends he disappears politically. Clinton on the other hand will be able to say -- 'See you should have picked me.'

The woman will be a force to contended with in the Senate. She is the new Ted Kennedy.

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Bernard Farrell 9:51 AM on 2 Jun 2008

"Kids if you're not home by 10 PM you'll be grounded."

"Kids you didn't make it home until 11 PM. You're grounded for a week."

"Aw, but dad...."

"You're right, you can forget about the grounding."

Have any of these people been parents? If they have rules about which states can run when, then they need to stick by the rules.

From what I can tell, they did just this. As you said, the democratic voters need to take it up with their state party officials.

It'll be amazing if the whole democrat race founders as a result of this. From what I'm seeing, reading and hearing, this race is the dems to lose. They're doing a good job of setting themselves up to do just that.

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Nate 10:43 AM on 2 Jun 2008

it just makes me sick. There should be a punishment for the people who were directly responsible for changing their voting day, but maybe a second chance for all the voters who had nothing to do with it. People like me, who just go to vote when we're told, shouldn't be getting shafted out of the vote when they had no control over it.

As for Clinton, she needs to accept defeat gracefully. She's just making herself look more and more desperate and bringing down the whole democratic party with her. Democratic leaders need to step in and put heavy pressure on her to leave the race before she damages the party any more than she has.

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Tim Tripcony 1:01 PM on 2 Jun 2008

There's been a fair amount of double standardization on both sides, but lately the sheer volume of that from the Clinton camp astounds me:

Hillary in October: "It's clear, this election they're having is not going to count for anything"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/11/AR2007101100859_pf.html

Hillary now: "if any votes aren't count, [sic] the will of the people isn't realized and our democracy is diminished"
http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0508/Clinton_compares_the_Florida_and_Michigan_fight_to_civil_rights_movement.html

Electoral-vote.com had a great succinct explanation a couple days ago for the scheduling rules: not restricting early contests to a couple small states before the rest pile on means nobody who doesn't already have $50 million before the first contest doesn't stand a chance. The current restriction, in effect, forces each candidate to spend actual face-to-face time in front of early voters in order to do well. Hillary (admittedly) dropped the ball on that, and that's why the "inevitable" candidate lost Iowa and won New Hampshire by a miniscule margin.

But arguably her biggest mistake was cherry-picking which contests to seriously compete in - not only opting to plan only through Feb. 5th, but also focusing only on what her campaign has often referred to as the "crucial states". Up until 2/5, the race was deadlocked. Because Hillary assumed she'd clinch the nomination that night, she suddenly had to play catchup everywhere else, and Obama ran up a series of 11 straight victories, netting essentially the pledged delegate lead he's maintained since. In other words, if she hadn't decided certain states mattered and others didn't, either it would still be neck-and-neck or she'd be the front-runner.

Hence, one would assume she's learned her lesson and wouldn't make the same mistake in the general, were she the nominee. Enter Harold Ickes (the most vocal of her supporters at the RBC Saturday) on Meet the Press yesterday: in almost the same breath as a half-hearted admission that the cherry-picking was in fact what left them so far behind in delegates, he conveyed that the argument they're still making to the remaining uncommitted supers for why Hillary is more electable than Barack is that she outpolls him in the states that matter, whereas he outpolls her in the states that supposedly don't.

She hasn't learned her lesson. She would campaign in the general with the same strategy that failed her in the primary: pandering to the big states and ignoring everyone else. Who knows, maybe it would work this time (Rove pulled it off twice in a row). But is it worth the risk? If 86% of the remaining supers think so, she'll be the nominee. But if even 15% would rather see a nominee who wants to lead the entire country, not just both coasts and the Great Lakes (odd... I just realized that landlocked states are more likely to be "red" than those near water... probably just a coincidence), Barack will receive the nomination. And then maybe we can finally start preparing for November.

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susan senator 1:52 PM on 2 Jun 2008

I think Hilary could benefit from a psychiatrist. She seems to be having delusions of grandeur.

Nevertheless, if she is The One, I will vote for her, and work for her, because I am sick to death of the Right Wing Republican Rule here. Give the Dems a chance to fuck up a little, come on!! It's our turn!

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Ned Batchelder 4:26 PM on 2 Jun 2008

@johnmc: I think Democrats screaming "count every vote" is specifically the Florida count in 2000. Before you accuse the Democrats of excluding people, please re-read the post: the Republicans made the same decision regarding Michigan and Florida for the same reasons. And if it had been the general election, they wouldn't have done any of this, because the election wouldn't be governed by party rules.

One thing that gets overlooked in all the hype around these primaries is that a primary is essentially a private organization asking its members to vote on private business: which members of the club get to go to the clubs national convention. The parties set up rules ahead of time, everyone understood what the rules were. To scream now about disenfranchisement, and to compare it to 2000, or Zimbabwe, or poll taxes, is simply disingenuous. These people all understand these points: they're saying whatever it takes to accomplish their goal.

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johnmc 5:21 PM on 2 Jun 2008

Ned, I could agree with most of your counterpoint except for the primaries being a private affair. It is the States that control the time and nature of elections either primary or general. That's why every State has to have a vote for change of voting and has a Secretary of State charged with executing the voting process. If anyone is gilding the lily it is the Republicans and Democrats with their party rules. Its an attempt to meddle in a process charged to the respective States alone.

Oh, and Fla is a winner take all State. There would be no opportunity for splits or apportionment based on State Republican Party rules.

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Lorenzo Gatti 3:39 AM on 3 Jun 2008

In Italy, the news coverage about your presidential race consists mainly of accounts of sen. Clinton's unwillingness to quit and of the risk she is for the party and for the outcome of the elections, leaving me puzzled about at least two important points:

1) Why did the Democrats of several states hold early primaries, contrary to party decisions? I cannot imagine reasonable reasons.
Moreover, the certainty of angering both furious militants, deprived of their votes, and the national Democratic Party, eager to show who is in charge, should have been a deterrent against such a blatant rebellion; why not?

2) Sen. Clinton obviously behaves very badly: aren't her supporters ashamed enough of her to switch sides? Why does the Democratic Party have such an extraordinary tolerance for her repeated threats and offenses? What gives a mere senator influence over a whole party? Being the well-connected wife of a former president doesn't seem enough to me.

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Ned Batchelder 6:14 AM on 3 Jun 2008

Michigan and Florida moved up their primaries because in most election years, candidates are chosen much earlier in the process, so only the early primaries really matter. By March or so, the candidate is clear, as was the case with McCain on the Republican side. Michigan and Florida wanted to matter, and they gambled that the party wouldn't dare apply the rules.

As to why Clinton is doing what she is doing: only she knows for sure. To give her the full benefit of the doubt, she's doing it because she believes she's the best candidate, and also believes that there's some way she could become the candidate.

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David Boudreau 12:05 PM on 3 Jun 2008

I'm not a Democrat, but I'm interested in how they're sorting out the meanings of these phrases Clinton invokes to describe her situation, such as what counts as a violation of civil rights, exactly, and being "disenfranchised".

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oo 2:51 PM on 3 Jun 2008

lucky me, i don't pay much attn to this. imo, the worst thing is that hc & ob are wasting demo resources while mccain/gop are not yet spending much of theirs. however i read that this election's investors - er, donators - are betting more on demo than gop (in comparison to previous elections, presumably presidential/vp elections).

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Bob Congdon 6:36 PM on 3 Jun 2008

The mixture of party and state government involvement in the primaries was really strange here in Washington State. We had both caucuses and a primary. The primary was mandated by the state legislature. But Democrats only use the caucus results to apportion delegates, making the primary effectively meaningless. Republicans used the caucuses to apportion 19 of their 40 delegates and the primary to apportion the rest. What a mess.

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Sylvain Galineau 1:29 PM on 4 Jun 2008

Watching her non-concession speech yesterday was pretty surreal. It was as if Lance Armstrong lost a majority of the Tour de France stages, arrived in Paris behind his rival and stepped up to the podium to tell us he hadn't yet decided whether he'd lost; and implied he may agree if he was given a nice-enough consolation prize. Would everyone rush to congratulate him on his great race and beg the winner to 'reach out' ? Yes, the analogy is too simple, but after all the self-righteous anger following Florida 2000, the irony is cruel.

Not so surprising, after everything that has transpired over the months and years. But frankly distressing that such nonsense can persist this long.

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