Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hillary's Wolfson And The Course Ahead

Howard Wolfson on MSNBC's Hardball stated that the Clinton campaign would do whatever is allowed in the rules to win the nomination and go as far as that takes. MI, FL, and Puerto Rico should all count in the popular vote metric, despite PR not being able to vote in the General, MI not having Obama's name on the ballot and their agreement from the outset that neither state counted in the Primary. Wolfson is willing to split the delegates by proportion, good for them since Obama has no MI delegates, and even better since nobody campaigned in either state.

Perhaps more interesting was his statement that she's all in for the campaign finances, noting there is a legal limit. That would be one half their joint assets. I'm not unhappy to see the Clintons throw money at this. It is not only their right, it pleases me to watch them do it. It does get a little difficult to play the shots and beer blue collar gal paying millions for a campaign. I'm sure they both picked up lots of blisters and calluses getting those millions. She's in $11.5M now, what's some more?

Here is the thing that bothers me with the Clinton campaign as it has since February, her willingness to say nearly anything to get elected. Since the only real difference between the candidates is foreign policy stance and attitude toward the electorate in campaign, her only moves can be to tear down Obama in the voter's eyes in search of the elusive nomination. Will she take this far enough to give the Republicans campaign material and will she so harden her supporters that they will not support Obama? Her reach is limited in neither regard except by considerations of the November election, which she seems to assume she will be campaigning in. If that mindset holds, there is no limit, damage to Obama is immaterial.

I do not advocate Hillary dropping out before the Primaries are over. She has earned her shot at this and her voters have earned the right to their votes considered. What does not seem to be in Hillary's consideration is that this is a Democratic Primary, it is not a General Election. It is not opposed Parties. It is one Party with a large reach in demographics. Attempting to play the Party off against itself is destructive. The idea that a campaign that closes out as the Clinton campaign has run since March can turn around and credibly support Obama is nearly nonsensical.

As the Clinton fortunes have decreased the rhetoric has gotten more harsh and the Clinton supporters have hardened. The harshness not only plays to Republicans but also creates bad feelings in her supporters. Those voters are not reflected clearly on the Internet and pro-Hillary websites, but there is an aspect of carried over reality. Both sides have looney tunes supporters who would rather throw a monkey wrench into the Democratic works than vote for the opposing candidate in the General, but the Hillary numbers in exit polls are distressing and the vehemence of dislike on the web is atrocious. The Clinton electability argument is picked up and carried to the extent that anyone associated with Obama is a traitor to Democrats. There is a consistent thread of Obama dishonesty and lies regarding Clinton. This is in the face of all the unused negatives Clinton has, all that left laying by Obama - unused. This is a real problem, it is not media fantasy.

There is no similarity between either Democrat and John McCain, absolutely none. To interpret the nomination of either candidate as a validation of McCain is beyond ridiculous, it is self-immolation. Anything Clinton does to encourage or to tolerate this is irresponsible in the extreme. Comments like the one today responding to the AP article with USA Today that emphasize racial and economic splits as a justification for a campaign are the sort of thing that nails supporters down. Regardless of how votes are splitting in race and education and economic status this is not an argument to make. It creates the cement that sets support in a fixed position and validates racism as reasoning, by inference. There are white blue collar Democrats who are uneasy with the idea of a black candidate for President, you do not give that any more impetus than it has on its own anymore than it would be smart for the Obama campaign to encourage misogyny. You do not set up conditions to make groups useless to your opponent in a Party primary, you do that in a General.

Hillary Clinton could choose to go out of this campaign stressing her positives, she could do that and gain more good will than all the votes gotten from the other course. I'll bet she doesn't.


Rick Taylor said...

I discovered your blog via Balloon Juice. It's fascinating and enlightening reading. The last couple months have been a series of gradually increasing horrified shocks as I've understood more and more what the Clinton campaign is up to, so I have some perspective to understand what you're talking about.

At this point, Clinton has declared that 2209 delegates are required to be the nominee, and she's refusing to recognize any settlement of Michigan and Florida that doesn't give her all the delegates she won in the unsanctioned primaries (and none for Obama in Michigan). Therefore, it seems likely, that this race will not be resolved until the matter of how to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida is fully resolved.

From what you said at Balloon Juice, this will be taken up by the rules committee on May 31. My question is, will that resolve the matter? And assuming that sufficient super delegates endorse Obama to put him over whatever the decided threshold may be, will the nomination effectively be over? Or does the fight over how to seat the delegates go into the convention?

Chuck Butcher said...

The nomination is official with a vote from the floor of the Convention. If enough delegates and super delegates commit prior to the floor vote it is pointless to try any parlimentary moves from the floor, the votes are foregone. Automatic (super) delegates aren't really committed until they vote from the floor. The pledged delegates are elected as loyalists and unlikely to change in the first or second ballot unless released by their candidate (say Edwards).

McCain isn't the (R) nomineee, yet, he is the presumptive nominee - he has the votes. If 2209 is Obama's number prior to the convention, nobody is going to take Hillary seriously unless Obama explodes or dies. Obama would be well served to have 2209 prior to 5/31, if he has 2025 prior to 5/31 the Rules Committee will be in a bind to move to a number that denies him, leaving them to decide in a manner that awards 2209 or denies FL/MI seating prior to the floor vote. If FL/MI are awarded at full strength 2209 is the number, otherwise 2025 or around 2116 at 50% or... Hillary keeps hoping, but it is damn unlikely. The Rules Committee and super delegates know all these numbers, they understand the process and the consequences and they are not foolish people. In other posts I've done breakdowns on who the automatic delegates are, you will see that these are well informed people.

Whatever Hillary wants, the Democratic Party is not looking to set itself up for a floor brawl and it doesn't have to, by the rules.

While the media loves a good brawl to cover, even they know that the DNC isn't going there and they're not even bothering to try to foment a fight. (well, FauxNews might) The reason the media "called it" for Obama after NC & ID is that the math says he will and she can't.

The reason the Rules Committee can't screw a candidate with FL/MI is that the reason they didn't campaign or even pulled their names off is that DNC guaranteed they wouldn't be hurt by following the rules. This is Clinton's ultimate dishonesty in the issue, not that her BS about seating them after their faux elections wasn't dishonest enough. SHE stalled the process until it was too late to resolve.

Rick Taylor said...

"The reason the Rules Committee can't screw a candidate with FL/MI is that the reason they didn't campaign or even pulled their names off is that DNC guaranteed they wouldn't be hurt by following the rules."

That was something it took me a long while to understand. The main punishment to Michigan and Florida was not the loss of their delegates; it was the agreement of the candidates not to campaign there, depriving them of the very benefit they'd been seeking in moving to the head of the queue. Given that, penalizing them their delegates was necessary, otherwise it would have been electoral suicide for the candidates not to campaign (especially for less well known ones).

It amazes me sites like Talk Left don't get this. Obama acted and continues to act in good faith with the DNC. He didn't campaign, he even removed himself from the ballot in one state, and now the Clinton campaign wants to use that to beat him. Talk Left posters sneer, and say it was his choice to remove himself in Michigan, and accuse him of vote stealing for suggesting a compromise plan that doesn't give Clinton all the delegates she claims; it's frustrating to watch. In the unlikely event the DNC did reward Hillary's machinations, no candidate could ever trust the DNC again.

Chuck Butcher said...

If you think this mess is frustrating from the outside, try to imagine what DNC feels about it. Something people tend to forget is that DNC is an extension of the State Parties, the leadersip is elected by the States. 48 states and some other units played by the rules, some believing that their votes would be meaningless, even while the Fed is hugely important in their state, OR on May 20 has an incredible percentage of land area controlled by the Fed. Remember, the State Parties control the Primaries, the state can use the blackmail of "we'll finance if..." but under law the Parties control the elections. The ultimate fault is that of the State Parties of FL/MI. There are a bunch of us who want to tear our hair out for being blamed.

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