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Joe

"The fairest option would have been to hold re-votes in both states. That didn't happen for several reasons, but not the least of them was that Barack Obama made sure it didn't."

Lance, it would be excellent if you could post some evidence/links to show that Obama caused the re-votes not to occur. I think this is probably a fair statement with regard to Florida (although a quicky mail-in election in a state that has never had a mail-in election would have had its share of problems), although I understood Michigan's plan to have fallen under legal issues (see this link: http://www.mlive.com/elections/index.ssf/2008/03/federal_judge_in_detroit_strik.html)

Lance

Glad to oblige, Joe.

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/03/michigan-re-vot.html

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/03/19/clinton.michigan/index.html

http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/03/clinton_says_ob_1.html

But you're right; as I wrote, there were other reasons the revotes didn't come off. But he sure didn't help. My point here wasn't to blame Obama. I really blame the DNC and the state party leaderships. I'm saying that he hasn't been acting out of pure principled goodness here. If he and Hillary had wanted to they probably could have come up with a fair plan. There just was no reason for him to have wanted to. I don't think he should have been expected to help bring about his own defeat, anymore than I think Hillary should be expected to agree to hers.

Mithras

Lance, you're just wrong on the facts. The Florida and Michigan Democratic Parties didn't want re-does. They wanted to play chicken with the DNC and get their own way, counting on the DNC to buckle to avoid the prospect of a confrontation, like the shameful display put on by Hillary's supporters today (chanting "McCain, McCain" and trying to disrupt the final vote on the Michigan compromise).

The rest of your post is just overwrought.

Jim

Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist wouldn't call the Fla. Legislature into session to authorize another Democratic primary because the GOP didn't want the controversy to be resolved. Republicans also blocked the primary revote bill in Michigan for the same reason.

Mich. Gov. Jennifer Granholm should have known better than signing the original bill setting the early outlaw primary.

Obama played by the rules. Clinton tried to pull a fast one by putting her name on the Fla and Mich ballots even as she acknowledged that those straw polls would not count for delegate selection. Then when she cleaned up in those polls, she wanted them to be counted for delegate selection. Obama was under no obligation to go along with that BS.

Sabutai

Mithras, some links to start you off on Obama's efforts to kill the idea of re-votes. For starters.

Obama also benefitted from the fact that some states got away with changing the rules. List of states that ignored DNC regs, in order of their primaries:

IA - Rushed the calendar
NH - Rushed the calendar, leapfrogged NV
MI - Rushed the calendar, leapfrogged NV & SC
NV - Rushed the calendar
SC - Rushed the calendar
FL - Rushed the calendar

Yet only two states get punished...big swing states that Clinton won.


Mithras

Clearly, you didn't read the timeline that I linked to. For example:

August 19, 2006: Based on a recommendation of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, the DNC approves a calendar which allows Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina to host early nominating contests in January of 2008. The measure is passed with near-unanimity (only New Hampshire votes no). Florida and Michigan delegations support the measure.
Mithras

Obama foresaw how the election would go as far back as August, 2006, and used his evil mind-control powers to make the RBC hand him the election. Muhahahahaha!

lina

Lance Lance Lance. . .

Clinton lost in 2008 because her campaign gurus couldn't figure out how to win caucus states. Period. They should never have let Obama win 11 states in a row back in Feb. With the proportional allocation of delegates, she was never going to be able to come back from that defecit. It's almost like they didn't even understand how it worked. Sen. Clinton was ill-served by her campaign professionals, and it's her fault for not firing the lot of them back in Feb.

It's not the evil media, it's not the evil sexists, it's not the evil Obama supporters. It's just politics.

Sabutai

Mithras, the 2006 timeline set certain dates, and penalties for holding contests before those dates. Those dates were ignored by all six states, only two were penalized.

Judy

I think your analysis is correct, Lance. But I don't reach the same conclusion. I do hold the Clinton advisers responsible for a poorly thought out campaign strategy based on their overconfidence. And yet BO's performance in appearances early on inspired and strengthened that overconfidence. IMO, he was lucky enough to catch a wave with people desperate for a change from the doublespeak of the Bush administration coupled with the legacy issue. The generational divide is being replicated in many areas of our nation, with the 30-somethings chafing to push out the older, more traditional people so they can try out their own vision. They seem enamored of applying social networking to politics and I look forward to seeing how successful it will be. But in the process, many older people are becoming resentful of being marginalized and many will express that resentment in November in ways that won't help the Democrats. So BO may be winning the battles but will possibly lose the war, all because he is not applying his self-described strength at bringing people together to party relationships. However, I agree with your statement that he is merely acting in his own interest and that's logical and predictable and places him among the traditional category of politician. I think he cannot claim to be especially different from other politicians. Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it.

Mike Schilling

People who actually studied the press coverage concluded that if anything it favored Clinton. Every time I see a Clinton supporter state as a fact that she's the victim of a media conspiracy of Clinton-haters, I lose a little sympathy for her. When Lanny Davis said on Fox News "Now I know what it feels like to be a Republican", i.e. a victim of the Liberal Media, I lost a lot. When Geraldine Ferraro said "They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white." I lost even more.

There's no moral equivalence here, Lance. Maybe they're both politicians trying to game the system (with Obama simply being much better at it), but only Hillary has turned into Richard Nixon. Running against the media, claiming that her supporters are the real America, appealing to resentment, racial resentment in particular. It's way too familiar, and it stinks of the Southern Strategy.

Kevin Hayden

Those of you who wish to think that he won through the pure force of his goodness and the righteousness of his cause and that his beating Hillary was a case of goodness and light triumphing over evil are perfectly free to do so. The rest of us know better. Obama's just another politician with a sharp eye on the main chance, same as Clinton, and that's what we're counting on come November.

I certainly never thought of Obama as a messiah. He's a politician with some ideas to get things done via the power of 'we-ism', utilizing the Net for funding, communicating and organizing more effectively than others have done before. I suspect he'll continue to utilize similarly efficient and innovative ways to garner support for policies to be pushed through legislative chambers.

Beyond that, he's basically run a somewhat standard populist campaign and done so effectively.

The DNC rationale for the earliest primaries is to have relatively small populations at the outset, so the greatest number of candidates can compete without an excessive cost to gain traction so the best of the bunch can advance in name recognition and fundraising, to afford the more expensive rounds that follow.

Florida and Michigan were too big to be well-afforded so early in the season. However, I'd quarrel with part of your first premise. Had all agreed to campaign, I think Obama could have won Michigan, originally or in any re-vote.

While both are opportunists, let's remember that Clinton started claiming those delegations should count in full after it was clearly advantageous to do so, not after Super Tuesday. So now all the voters who thought their votes wouldn't matter and just stayed home have become disenfranchised by this latest compromise. And nobody really knows what the apportionment would look like had there been a normal campaign.

Maybe Clinton's reversal on the delegate count broke no official rule but it violated the spirit and intent of an unwritten agreement between most of the candidates, which is more than standard opportunism.

Otherwise, most of your other points are well made. Obama is not a candidate for sainthood and Clinton's not demonic. But neither are they ethically equal, given the last point I made.

You also attribute much to the national press corps hating the Clintons without any regard to many voters not preferring them for specific policy disagreements. As for Obama creating the perception of being the nominee earlier than he actually was, that wasn't magic but was mathematically based, too: after Wisconsin, the size of the wins necessary in the remaining states had very low odds of coming to fruition so many of Obama's supporters began making that point several weeks before the MSM began reporting the improbability Clinton faced, which ratcheted higher with every fresh primary past.

Several media counters have made the point that Obama was enduring the brunt of the attacks throughout this interim. That anti-Clinton MSM pile-on largely took place in the final five weeks, though certain pundits and networks certainly displayed that bias earlier.

Jay

You say all this like it's a bad thing. If Barack Obama wasn't an ambitious man, he wouldn't be running for the big job. It's just silly to accuse a presidential candidate of "ambition", as if any humble man would ever run for president. And if his principles weren't tempered by political savvy, I wouldn't support him for the job. It's no job for a saint.

Michael Bartley

I respect your work tremendously. Luckily, we merry band of brothers and sisters do not believe in ditto as a political philosophy. So, I will dissent. Listen politics is tough and both side have engaged in tough, at times, unfair campaigning. The "true believers" of both sides might want try smelling salts and deep breathing. I am, as I believe many people are, a combination of pragmatic and dreamer. The tough fight of politics appeals as does the soaring rhetoric. And it is in this latter category that I believe Clinton has crossed the line. As a wordsmith surely you are drawn by the importance of rhetoric in politics and its centrality to our political life and democracy. Words matter. For a leader, the careful balancing of words in a campaign are crucial to their and ultimately our succcess. In these past few months the Clinton campaign, in understandable but unaccpetable desperation, increasingly adopted the rhetoric of those who have failed us so often in the past. It is this language that is producing cries of "Denver Denver" and most stunningly "McCain McCain" amongst her supporters. Now, perhaps, those fevered minds are few in number and Hillary herself will fight the good fight and help kick the bums out. Lord I hope so...but, if these fevered few spread like a contagion across the land and we lose. I believe we will look back at Clinton's overwrought language with grim understanding about the power of words and their ability to unite or divide.

Lance

Mike Schilling: People who actually studied the press coverage concluded that if anything it favored Clinton.

Mike, I've heard Maureen Dowd, Chris Matthews, Brian Williams, David Broder, and Charles Gibson all agree with this study. As do all the folks at Fox News, the Washington Post editorial page, the Politico, and Matt Drudge.

I think my local newspaper did a very fair and even positive job of covering Hillary and I'm sure that had a great influence on voters all across the country.

Lance

lina,

No, Obama gained the lead in the delegate count by winning all those caucuses. He "won" by convincing a lot of people that "winning" was just a matter of gaining and maintaining the lead in the delegate count. Both things show him to be a brilliant politician. I'm complimenting the man here and I'm not trying to take anything away from his victory---and I don't mean his present "victory," but the real one when the required number of delegates actually vote for him at the convention.

JMG

Dear Lance: On balance, I agree with you. I don't think either campaign drew anything more than the occasional two-minute minor penalty from start to almost finish. I forget who said that the superheated frenzy from many on both sides is a transference of the rage that GW Bush and Co. will die rich, in bed, and unpunished.
BOTH candidates made the Florida/Michigan mess by agreeing to the extortionist demands of New Hampshire and Iowa. Those two states should be sent to the end of the line for the next two elections.

Chester

I guess I don't understand your point here: "He "won" by convincing a lot of people that "winning" was just a matter of gaining and maintaining the lead in the delegate count." Wasn't getting the most delegates the objective of the primary?

Also, the Clinton 1992 campaign used "the math" argument to badger Jerry Brown out of the race so I guess what goes around...

NatTurner

Lance--

I don't understand your point about the committee's decision on the Michigan delegates. In one sentence, you (correctly) note that no delegate is required to vote for the candidate to which they're pledged (you make this point to support your argument that the committee should've just left the uncommitted delegates uncommitted, and let Hillary and Barack fight over them); and in the next sentence, you call the committee's decision to give Barack these uncommitted delegates "bad and illegitimate." But if it _really_ doesn't matter to whom a delegate is pledged, then what difference does it make if they're pledged to Hillary, Barack, or Uncommitted? According to your logic, Hillary and Barack can presumably fight over _all_ of the delegates, not just the ones pledged to Uncommitted--so what makes the committee's decision "bad and illegitimate"?? To me, your use of "illegitimate" is uncalled for in this case.

Nat

Victoria

Oh, siiiiigh. I have been so good at staying out of the arguments, even as I devour every shred of news on the campaigns. But here goes:

I believe we can all agree that Obama is an extremely savvy politician, in the non-Karl Rove sense. Better yet, he put together a whale of a team. Yay for our side.

About the six states jockeying position, the big difference is this: The four agreed-upon early states did some leap-frogging but they didn't violate the pre-Feb 5 window they were assigned. That no big states were allowed in the special upfront window is a good thing for us because it allows some fragile possibility that candidates with limited money can at least have a prayer of competing long enough to build financial traction. Florida and Michigan were punished because they pushed their way out of their agreed-upon window which threatened to destroy the whole concept of "the first four."

Lance, I'm confused by your saying, "At no point, though, did anybody 'rule' that Florida and Michigan would not matter at all. They were not going to be "disappeared." --- If no one ruled that, why were they "appealing the ruling" this weekend?

My understanding is that (a) the DNC rules require a sanction of losing no less than half the state delegates, and (b) the DNC originally sanctioned them by saying "zero delegates" because they were worried they were about to have a chaotic free-for-all and they wanted to send a strong message. I recall a number of people saying, "These votes in Florida and Michigan won't count for anything." That's certainly what friends in those states were telling me. Hillary said that.

Now, of course, there would probably be some peace-making later, but that's for insiders to understand; a lot of primary voters in those states just knew the first part.

I take it, from other entries, that you like the idea of having suspenseful conventions. Lance baby, let go of the PAST! I remember those late hot summer nights in front of the TV, too - but the times they have a changed. In the new media environment, it would be suicide for a convention at the very end of the summer.

About the press corps hating the Clinton's... (1) I remember also hearing from reasonable sources that in the beginning they were "afraid" of the Clinton's and holding their tongues. (2) I have seen early academic studies that say Hillary's press was nowhere near as negative as her team believes. (3) I also remember the story about the miserable chill between the traveling press and HRC, when she showed up with a tray of goodies for them on caucus day in Iowa. My question has always been WHY. Am hoping someone writes about this. - I'm actually looking forward to the post-election glut of analysis on multiple fronts because there's just so much we do not and cannot know at this point.

Lance

Victoria: Lance, I'm confused by your saying, "At no point, though, did anybody 'rule' that Florida and Michigan would not matter at all. They were not going to be "disappeared." --- If no one ruled that, why were they "appealing the ruling" this weekend?

Good question. Here's the answer. Because everybody knew there was an appeals process and that there would be an appeal. Also, because everybody involved knew that the whole mess was the result of stupid decisions and stupid mistakes and they wanted it undone. The process to undo it began immediately and Clinton was always up front about what she wanted to happen. She didn't change her mind after she discovered she needed Michigan and Florida she changed her tone. She became more urgent.

I've said before that I blame the state party leaders in FL and MI more than anyone. They thought the DNC was bluffing. Stupid. But the DNC were always acting like the cop who writes the ticket. But two judges were always going to hear the case, the RBC and the Credentials Committee. Both judges have a lot of discretion in interpreting and enforcing the "rules." The RBC could have given Clinton everything she asked for. Instead they gave Obama pretty much everything he wanted. Whether their decision would have been fair in the first case or was fair in the second is open to debate, but their power to make either decision isn't.

And, yes, once upon a time, I was in favor of open conventions, but that was before it became clear that if Clinton persisted it would be backfire on her and also before I read the chapter in Rick Perlstein's Nixonland about the 72 Democratic convention. I think I wrote a post about how I changed my mind.

Mike Schilling

The RBC could have given Clinton everything she asked for. Instead they gave Obama pretty much everything he wanted.

This is true only if you define "what Hillary asked for" as Lanny Davis's "Hillary gets all of her own votes and most of everybody else's."

DCMike

Jesus, what nonsense. Once again, a writer I've enjoyed immensely is seemingly driven round the bend by their desire to vindicate the Clinton campaign. I certainly understand, and share, the desire to make clear once and for all time that the press has been unbelievably unfair to the Clintons. I worked for a Democratic House Member during impeachment and it was an overwhelmingly depressing time. I wanted to throttle Maureen Dowd on a daily basis. But primary campaigns are ill suited to exorcising our demons of past slights.

Enough with the straw man arguments about how we all worship at the feet of Obama. Of course he's a politician. Of course he wanted to win and he did what he could to benefit himself. He and Clinton had exactly the same motivations, not pissing off NH and IA, in supporting the DNC decision on FL and MI. One thing they didn't share is power in actually making that decision. It's hard to remember since they've both been at the top for several months, but back in the fall, when the decision was made, Obama had no influence at all and the Democratic party was still essentially Clinton's party. Harold Ickes was there and voted to strip the delegations, Obama was an upstart among a group of hopefuls with no real power to influence the process. Obama didn't "see an opportunity" to do anything, he had no influence at that point.

Where on earth do you get, "but neither one ever agreed that Florida and Michigan's voters should never get their say in some way?" That was the explicit message. That is exactly why the DNC telegraphed the sanctions back in August and then backed it up with a vote stripping the delegates. The explicit message was, "if you break the rules the primary won't count." It was crystal clear right up through the day of voting, which is why so many people stayed home (and where's your concern for those poor disenfrancised souls) and everyone wrote them off as "beauty contests."

Was Obama unhelpful in getting revotes? Beats me. Beats you, too. There is no evidence at all one way or another. All anyone ever said from the Obama side was that they'd abide by whatever the DNC and the states worked out. Since the states wanted the DNC to pay for them to revote after defying the DNC's rules, it's not terribly shocking that a deal was not struck. MI and FL decided to play chicken with the DNC and their voters suffered but it's simply bullshit to attribute it to some nefarious "political hardball" strategy on the part of the Obama campaign.

This whole "we wuz robbed" attitude among Clinton supporters is baffling and the situational ethics being applied to try and justify retroactively changing the rules is just disgusting. It is laughable to somehow assert that the deck was somehow stacked against Clinton from the beginning when she, among all of the candidates, exerted the most influence over developing the ground rules of the game.

She tried hard, she got beat. It always feels unfair to lose but that feeling is not the same as having a case that injustice was done.

MBunge

"The process to undo it began immediately and Clinton was always up front about what she wanted to happen. She didn't change her mind after she discovered she needed Michigan and Florida she changed her tone. She became more urgent."


Please provide a link to the first time Hillary Clinton ever publicly stated that the sanctions against Florida and Michigan shouldn't be upheld.

Mike

Scout

I have little to add since some of the above posters made all of the salient points already, but I will say this: BE GLAD WE HAVE A POLITICIAN THIS SKILLED on our side. We need to end the death grip of Republican mis-rule and we cannot wait another four years to do it.

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