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Dan

So were you defending Jerry Brown and his supporters at this point in 1992? I'm not writing this to be a jerk, I'm actually wondering.

Lance

Dan,

In 1992, Jerry Brown had fewer than 600 delegates. I don't think anybody was paying much attention to him. But I don't remember thinking Hey, he should not take his case to the convention. I'm not sure how I'd have felt as a supporter of Bill Clinton if Brown had as many delegates as Clinton will have.

If Hillary only had 596 delegates in hand I doubt any Obama supporters would be calling for her to get out. They want her out because she has made such a strong showing and they are afraid that she can actually do some damage to their guy's chances.

But probably, since I grew up expecting coventions to decide the nominee, not "the math," I would have thought it was up to Brown to decide for himself how far to take the fight and up to his supporters to decide for themselves how far they wanted to stick with him.

Frenchdoc

Thank goodness for this. Someone had to make these (they should be obvious) points and you're right person to do it since you're a peer in the Big Blog Category... maybe Atrios will pay attention.

I'm still not on the bandwagon though... any ticket should be offered to me, and so far, no one has seemed interested in selling me one (I suck at metaphors!).

Dan

Fair enough. I guess I'm younger than you - the reason I mentioned 1992 is that was the first election in which I was eligible to vote - and so it's always been "the math" for me.

Point being, if it's being done the way every primary has been held since I've been paying attention, 596 or 1780 it still ain't enough.

Atrios is roughly the same age as I am and, tho' I am loath to speak for him, he probably has the same notion I do that the winner of the most delegates gets the nomination.

(Honestly, I'm not a big fan of either of 'em, except in the Senate. I was a Dodd supporter.)

Lance

Dan,

Yep, I'm old as dirt. But the rule hasn't changed. The nominee isn't the one who comes into the covention ahead in either the popular vote or the delegate count. The winner is the one who gets a very specific number of votes from the delegates on the floor at the convention. And Obama hasn't reached that number yet either.

It's funny that for all their obsession with "the rules" and "the math," Obama supporting bloggers never seem to acknowledge that rule or those numbers.

Bill Clinton had over 3000 delegates in hand in 1992, far, far more than he needed, but he still wasn't the nominee until the actual vote.

Up until then the delegates could have decided to give the nomination to someone else. Perhaps if they'd known that there was a certain blue dress in Clinton's future, they might have.

Since all the super-delegates haven't been heard from yet, Obama still appears to be about to come up short. Probably before long the supers will speak out and give him the votes, but even if they do, they are still allowed to change their minds at the convention, as are many of the other delegates. (By the way, I expect many Clinton delegates to jump ship on the first ballot if she's still fighting by then.)

I'm not saying it's going to happen or that it ought to happen this time out, but the rules allow it to happen, and Clinton and her supporters are entitled, by the rules, to try to make it happen, if they choose.

Doghouse Riley

Just to note that Obama Democrats--Democrats, fer chrissakes--came down with a mass attack of the vapors because their convention might be disorderly! right around the time their man failed to execute the anticipated knockout punch in New Hampshire (Bradley Effect!). That's almost five months now of periodically having to return my jaw to its proper location. At least I was spared having to decide whether to rejoin the party.

lina

". . .Clinton and her supporters are entitled, by the rules, to try to make it happen, if they choose. . ."

And who is doubting that?

Sen. Clinton can remain in the race, she can run TV ads against Obama, she can keep talking to small town editorial boards, raise money, spend her own money, she is free to do whatever she wants within the limits of U.S. law. Again, who is disputing that?

The point Atrios and others are trying to make is that a divided Democratic Party contiuing throughout the summer is not the best way to win back the White House.

I will be interested to hear the explanations after the Clinton camp rejects any and all MI and FL compromise at the rules meeting this week.

Soreloserhood is really not the way to forge one's political future.

Mike Schilling

Trotting Lanny Davis out to explain why Hillary deserves 70% of the Michigan delegates just embarrasses her. Is there no one in that campaign who can see that?

zuzu

Getting people to agree to a rule change, no matter how "drastic," is not cheating.

It's not even a rule change. The Michigan and Florida challenges are allowed under existing rules. The RBC can change its decision under existing rules. There's no rule that has to be changed. None.

The only thing that has to be changed is the RBC's decision, and since there's an appeal/challenge process provided for in the rules, that means that it's not set in stone, and never was.

The ignorance surrounding the process -- the willful ignorance, considering how many people I've challenged to look at the actual rules, though they refuse -- continues to astound me. And it's got nothing to do with a desired outcome -- if you are going to talk about the rules like some kind of expert, then take the trouble to read them and understand them. (Not you, Lance; this is just my endless frustration talking.)

Dawn

Thank you for this. It has been amazing to me how quickly some people go from scrupulously non-aligned to full throated memebers of the noise machine once they make their decision. Atrios was a voice of reason for so long, now the most elementary facts seem to escape him.

Vir Modestus
trying to short-circuit the primary process entirely by announcing their decisions early in the hopes of convincing Hillary to quit the race well before it was clear she would lose.

It has been clear since Super Tuesday that she would lose. That was when she started making excuses as to why she didn't just rake in all the delegates she was owed as being the presumptive heir. It has been since then that she has tossed off ever-changing reasons as to why caucuses don't count, or popular vote doesn't count (until it does), or that delegates are pledged (unless they change their minds), or Florida and Michigan really do count (except when she didn't want to piss off Iowa and New Hampshire to say that they didn't). Once Super Tuesday came and went and she hadn't already won outright, she had no other strategy.

I maintain (and my girlfriend argues with me as no doubt you do as well) that if Obama was in the position now that Clinton is in (fewer states won, fewer delegates won, fewer popular votes won, fewer funds raised, etc) there would not even be a presumption that he would be in. He would have been forced from the race before February had ended.

Bad campaigning will lose an election more often than bad ideas will (see Bush, G.W.). She has run a bad campaign.

Steve

maintain (and my girlfriend argues with me as no doubt you do as well) that if Obama was in the position now that Clinton is in (fewer states won, fewer delegates won, fewer popular votes won, fewer funds raised, etc) there would not even be a presumption that he would be in. He would have been forced from the race before February had ended.

I personally think this is laughable. If Obama were the one behind, the "anyone but Clinton" MSM would have framed the whole debate a lot differently.

Rana

The point Atrios and others are trying to make is that a divided Democratic Party contiuing throughout the summer is not the best way to win back the White House.

Why?

Why would stopping the process now and rushing ahead to the end undo the divide?

It seems to me that if the nomination is decided prematurely, before everyone's had a chance to vote, and in effect declaring that one set of voters is more valid than another before the final tally has been made, that is MORE divisive, not less.

If the race goes until the convention, yes, the candidates will continue to fight. But, on the voters' side, the message is that everyone counts, and that everyone will be taken seriously, and that it's the final tally that will be the determining factor.

If the race is declared over before the convention, on the other hand, the message to voters is (a) if you haven't voted yet, we're going to make your vote meaningless, because you won't have a choice, and (b) if you have voted, but not for the person we want to win, your vote doesn't count.

And THAT is supposed to make voters feel positive about the party and the candidate they run in November?

Rushing things and acting as if many of the people voting in the Democratic primary aren't worth paying attention to or is if their votes aren't important seems FAR more divisive to me than just letting things play out as scheduled.

Linkmeister

Speaking as someone who bitterly remembers 1980, when Carter conceded to Reagan even before our polls had closed out here in Hawai'i, I'm persuaded that the entire game should be played until the final out is recorded.

Tom Hilton
Why can't Obama supporters wait another couple of weeks?
Depends on what happens during those weeks. If Clinton (like Obama) spends them attacking McCain, that's fine. If she spends them attacking the candidate who is virtually certain to be her party's nominee, that's not so fine. (Yeah, it's her 'right' to do so; that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.)
If the race is declared over before the convention, on the other hand, the message to voters is (a) if you haven't voted yet, we're going to make your vote meaningless, because you won't have a choice, and (b) if you have voted, but not for the person we want to win, your vote doesn't count.
The Clinton strategy was to sew up the nomination by Super Tuesday--in other words, to render the votes of everyone in all the subsequent primaries 'meaningless'. The idea that there's something wrong with deciding the race before the last primary (much less before the convention) is ludicrous on its face.
lina

The voting is over on June 3. How does Clinton not conceding until August make "all the votes count?" I don't get it.

Linkmeister

"The Clinton strategy was to sew up the nomination by Super Tuesday--in other words, to render the votes of everyone in all the subsequent primaries 'meaningless'."

That was de facto, not de jure. She was hoping to expand the sense of inevitability by winning big that day. She fully intended to leave her name on the subsequent primary ballots.

Now she's being exhorted to essentially withdraw her name, since it's Obama who's got the inevitability momentum. I submit that Obama probably wouldn't have done that after Super Tuesday had she won big, so why should she now?

chris the cop

Lance - you're not that old.

I don't want to vote for either of these two (nor for McClain). That said, the rule was simply that if states moved up their primaries, those states' delegates would not be seated at the convention. It was a rule made by the DNC and both Clinton and Obama agreed to it. Hilary wants to change the rules. Barama does not. Other than to (solely) benefit her, there is no reason to go back on the rule change. I disagree with Zuzu - I think it was set in stone in that both candidates agreed to the rule.

I also think that if Obama had won Fl and Mich Hilary would
demanding those delegates not be counted.

But I still don't see how people can INSIST Hilary bail out after such recent convincing wins in WV and KY.

Tom Hilton
Now she's being exhorted to essentially withdraw her name, since it's Obama who's got the inevitability momentum.
No. That is, I haven't seen anyone call for that. What I have seen people urge her to do is suspend her campaign, which is very different from taking her name off of any ballots; I'm not aware of anyone who is saying she should take her name off of all subsequent ballots (which would be a ridiculous suggestion, and almost certainly impossible to carry out). Anybody in subsequent primary states would have been perfectly free to vote for her, and their votes would have counted in the sense of adding to her delegate total at the end.

To sum up: the thing the Clinton campaign is supposedly supporting as a matter of principle is precisely the thing that, back in January, the Clinton campaign wanted to make sure wouldn't happen.

zuzu

That said, the rule was simply that if states moved up their primaries, those states' delegates would not be seated at the convention. It was a rule made by the DNC and both Clinton and Obama agreed to it. Hilary wants to change the rules. Barama does not. Other than to (solely) benefit her, there is no reason to go back on the rule change. I disagree with Zuzu - I think it was set in stone in that both candidates agreed to the rule.

No, the rule is that states in violation of the timing rules lose half their delegates, though they can appeal that decision if there are extenuating circumstances (such as were present in Florida, though not Michigan). For unexplained reasons, the RBC instead opted to strip them of all their delegates. While it was within their power to do so, it was unjust and unwarranted under the circumstances, so the two states filed appeals of the respective decisions.

My understanding is that Florida is seeking not a full restoration of their delegates, but a reconsideration of the penalty imposed. I'm not aware of what Michigan's argument is.

The timing rules themselves are set in stone, but the punishment meted out isn't. And that's what the challenges are seeking to change, not the rule itself.

zuzu

Anybody in subsequent primary states would have been perfectly free to vote for her, and their votes would have counted in the sense of adding to her delegate total at the end.

What's the point? There are only, what, three primaries left? And Clinton stands a good chance to win in Puerto Rico.

Seriously, if Obama will be too irretrievably damaged by another week of campaigning, then he's too weak to run against McCain.

As for the Florida and Michigan challenges: the states filed them, not Clinton. They were going to be heard on May 31 regardless of whether or not she talked about them.

MaryL

For unexplained reasons, the RBC instead opted to strip them of all their delegates. While it was within their power to do so, it was unjust and unwarranted under the circumstances, so the two states filed appeals of the respective decisions.

I think that Michigan trying to move its primaries up in both 2000 and 2004 just might have something to do with the 100% penalty imposed this year. In 2000, Gore and Bradley took their names off the ballot when they moved the primary, so MI ran to reschedule another primary in March. In 2004 Terry McAuliffe himself had to threaten them with the standard 50% penalty to make them back down.

And this year, they did it again. It's not as if this was their first wee, tiny error.

Look, I think that 69/59 delegate split currently suggested by MI is tolerable and reasonably fair (certainly more fair than Lanny Davis's incoherent, innumerate and bizarre plan). But I'd like to see every single SD from MI NOT seated at the convention. This was their screw-up for the third election year in a row and they should pay some personal penalty.

As far as Florida goes: yeah, seat half. That should have been the penalty in the first place.

Linkmeister

As I understand it, Florida actually has a better moral case for having its delegation seated and its votes counted than Michigan does. The Democratic primary date was forced on it by a Republican-held legislature and a Republican governor, while the Dems there screamed and yelled loudly but ultimately impotently. The Republicans there knew full well that moving the date up was going to put the Florida Dems in a bind, and did it deliberately and with malice.

As I say, that's the way I understand what happened there.

Tom Hilton
What's the point?
Of ending it now? Not much; as you observe, there's only one primary day left. But that's not the point I was making. My point is that the 'let everyone vote' bullshit is, in fact, bullshit. There is no matter of principle involved, and if there were it would be a principle the Clinton campaign had planned to violate from the beginning.

Are we clear now?

zuzu

I think that Michigan trying to move its primaries up in both 2000 and 2004 just might have something to do with the 100% penalty imposed this year.

Well, that and the fact that the RBC couldn't very well do anything less after they went nuclear on Florida several months earlier -- and Florida's got a much better case for why they shouldn't have faced any penalty at all.

The larger problem, of course, is why Iowa and New Hampshire have such a privileged status in the calendar. I realize that the calendar is a little hard to control, because state legislatures want to have both parties' primaries at once to minimize costs, but if we had some rational system of rotating or regional primaries, states would be less eager to buck the calendar.

There is no matter of principle involved, and if there were it would be a principle the Clinton campaign had planned to violate from the beginning.

Just keep repeating that to yourself when the Republicans rig the voting machines. And if the Democrats complain, they'll just throw Michigan and Florida back in the Dems' faces. The DNC seems determined to give the GOP a license to steal votes in November.

Are we clear now?

Crystal. You don't think that counting votes matters because it might advantage Clinton in some small way. Essential liberty, temporary security, yadda yadda.


MaryL

Zuzu, from what I've read, the DNC didn't go "nuclear" on FL out of the blue. The following summary is from the timeline in Mr. Super's blog.

2006: DNC solicits proposals from states who want to join IA and NH as one of the first four states to hold primaries or caucuses. FL did not apply at this time; MI did. The DNC decides in favor of a caucus in NV and a primary in SC. All states vote on this calendar: all but NH support the choices.

2007: The FL state legislature initiates legislation to hold D and R primaries on January 29, 2008. FL Democrats are admittedly between a rock and a hard place, as they are outnumbered by Republicans in the state legislature, but they still vote to move the primary. Later on, they will claim that they had to vote for it because of other initiatives that were bundled in it, but their mocking attitudes, as captured by Steve Geller's performance here on YouTube, suggests that they may not have been fighting the Republicans all that hard.

Many meetings are held between the FL Democrats and the DNC as they try to work this out. They start to work together on developing a vote by mail alternative. They also discuss the DNC funding a state wide caucus, with the DNC providing $880,000 in funding. Instead, the FL Democrats tell the DNC they'll choose their delegates on January 29 in the state run primary. The RBC contacts the state Democrats, warning them of the automatic 50% cut penalty and asking them to do what they can to prevent the primary being moved.

(Now, I can understand FL preferring to run a primary as usual instead of trying something new like a caucus or mail-in. But they also knew about the automatic penalty of 50%. Perhaps they were willing to take that hit, as the state Republicans were facing similar penalties.)

In a face to face meeting, the DNC warned FL that they were not just facing a possible 50% cut, but they could see their delegates reduced to zero. They were given 30 days to work with the state Republicans (also facing opposition from the RNC) to move the primary to an acceptable date. After that time expired, the DNC issued another notice, telling them they were in non-compliance and they had 30 days to fix things.

The FL Dems told the DNC to go screw itself.

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla., Sept. 23 — The Florida Democratic Party announced Sunday that it would move ahead with its plan to hold its presidential primary on Jan. 29 despite the national party’s decision to block the state delegation from the 2008 Democratic convention.

State party leaders said that even if none of the state’s delegates were seated at next summer’s Democratic presidential convention, the earlier primary would still help determine the nominee. ...

Whether to seat Florida’s delegates at the convention would ultimately be up to the presumptive nominee, said Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Broward County. Rather than risk the wrath of Florida voters, Ms. Wasserman Schultz said, the party nominee will undoubtedly seat the delegates.

“We’re going to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear on that convention floor,” she said, adding that the state’s entire Democratic Congressional delegation supported the decision to stick with Jan. 29. ...

State Senator Steven A. Geller, the minority leader, used the news conference to rail against Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which he called “rogue states” for putting pressure on the presidential candidates to skip campaigning here for a January primary.

“If they choose not to campaign here and they lose? Not our problem,” Mr. Geller said.

Well, there's a bighearted team player for you. I'm not quite sure whether Mr. Geller meant that he didn't care if any of the candidates lost the nomination if they honored the pledge not to campaign, or if he didn't care if the final Democratic candidate lost the election because they failed to campaign there.

zuzu

but their mocking attitudes, as captured by Steve Geller's performance here on YouTube, suggests that they may not have been fighting the Republicans all that hard.

I keep seeing this one guy's attitude as reason why Florida has no case. One guy's being an asshole should damn the whole state?

MaryL

I'm not judging all of the state by one guy's attitude. As I said, that video suggests that the FL Democratic legislators may not have been fighting all that hard. But some of those quotes from the NY Times article were doozies, too, and they weren't all from him. I still remain to be convinced that the FL Democrats were negotiating in good faith with the DNC.

Anyway, I cited a lot more than Geller's attitude. Please don't reduce my argument to a straw man. The whole state is not being damned, either. Right now, FL Republicans are going to send half the delegates to their convention. It looks likely that the RBC will decide to impose the same penalty on FL because they may not be able to seat them at full strength, according to their own rules. Floridians still got to vote in both primaries, and they will be represented at both conventions, but not at full strength because whatever other virtues their state legislators may have, they also seem to be vainglorious and greedy assholes.

zuzu

Actually, most of the quotes you bolded amount to no more than disbelief that the DNC would actually completely disenfranchise Florida, of all places. I don't think anyone thought seriously in September (after the decision, well before the first primaries) that they would let that stand, mostly because the usual course of primaries is that one candidate becomes the prohibitive favorite early on. I'm sure everyone thought that they would get spanked a little, made an example of, and then the nominee would seat them anyhow at the convention and everyone would go home happy.

It's only because this race is so close now that it's a real issue, because the decision can affect the outcome. It didnt' matter when nobody thought that the late primaries would make a difference in the outcome, but now that the Puerto Rico primary is going to have a big effect (in terms of the popular vote count, if not in the pledged-delegate count), it seems peculiarly unfair to allow the nuclear-option decision to stand.

In any event, the fact that Geller was an asshole and the Florida Dems were confident that they'd be represented somehow does not justify deviating upwards from the standard penalty. I've yet to see a good argument for that.

Tom Hilton
Crystal. You don't think that counting votes matters because it might advantage Clinton in some small way. Essential liberty, temporary security, yadda yadda.
Oh, for chrissakes, cut the dishonest bullshit. Maybe you've convinced yourself that your convoluted rationalizations really amount to a matter of principle, but don't insult my intelligence by expecting me to believe it.
zuzu

Why the hostility, Tom?

I mean, if Obama's won, it doesn't matter if those votes are counted, right? So why the negativity? Why not just sit back and laugh, secure in the knowledge that it won't make a difference?

Demosthenes

zuzu: because it'll mean that there is no reason for states not to jack their primaries up. Hell, it raises the question of whether the DNC is anything but a paper tiger, period.

"COUNT ALL THE VOTES, EVEN IF THEY WERE HOPELESSLY COMPROMISED" might help in 2008, but if it means that every primary season from then on starts the January after the previous general, what's truly gained?

Lance: There's no such beast as a co-president, either. Even if millions upon millions of people voted for Bob Dole, he doesn't get power. Even if millions upon millions of people voted for Hillary Clinton, she doesn't get to play Calvinball with the rules.

And as for Avedon and the whole "winning in November" thing?

Please.

She squandered a massive advantage against a relatively vulnerable opponent who was still new to the national stage. She's demonstrated that she's a terrible campaigner, or at least hires terrible campaigners. Any transitory advantage she has in the general would almost certainly evaporate. And that's even if black voters didn't stay away from the polls in droves after Clinton being nominated by superdelegates. Which they would, out of a totally understandable sense of betrayal. They would take statements like Avedon's about "rescuing the party" as more insulting than anything ever said about Mrs. Clinton, and I can't say I'd disagree with them.

(Besides, if you look at fivethirtyeight.com, you'll see that Obama's already likely to win. And that's with McCain getting a free ride and Obama being under assault for the past few months.)

Anyway, it comes down to this: She had her shot. She blew it. Badly. That's not Dean's fault, or Obama's fault, or Limbaugh's fault, or McCain's fault, or Olbermann's fault.

Obama ran a far better campaign, and I still fail to see how he wouldn't make a better president.

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