Clinton Will Break the Democratic Party to Save It
You See, Obama has to be Cleared Away by the Hand of Hillary! like the McGovernites of Old. Now She will have to Burn this Party.
By Mark I Posted in 2008 | 2008 Presidential Campaign | Barack Obama | Democratic Party | Hillary Clinton | Howard Dean — Comments (35) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
The Huffington Post has an update to their story of this past weekend saying that the Clinton campaign has confirmed that it plans to use a May 31st meeting of the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee to try and seat the entire Michigan and Florida delegations at the Democratic National Convention. The Clinton campaign estimates that seating of the entire delegations from the two disputed states will give her a pledged delegate lead of around 55 delegates over Sen. Barack Obama.
In a statement released in response to the story, the campaign did not deny that it intended to exercise what the Huffington Post characterized as the "nuclear option." It only objected to the notion that the plan was a secret one.
There is no secret plan....The Clinton campaign has been vocal in stating that the votes of 2.5 million people must be respected. Hardly a day goes by when a Clinton official doesn't publicly declare that the votes of Michigan and Florida count and that the delegations from those states should be seated.
If the campaign follows through on this, it may be left to the ultimate superdelegate, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, to decide the Democratic nomination. Denver is going to be fun.
Sen. Hillary!™ Clinton controls the Rules and Bylaws Committee with at least 50% of its members supporting her. So it seems that she would have the inside track to getting the ruling she desires. But her performance in today’s Indiana and North Carolina primaries, as well as some upcoming contests, is crucial. Clinton needs to win big in Indiana and lose close or upset Obama in North Carolina. Less heralded but no less important to her strategy are contests in West Virginia next week and Kentucky in two weeks. Clinton stands to win lopsided victories in both of those states, perhaps by as much as 30 points in each.
Assuming that comes to pass, Clinton supporters will have plenty of evidence that the controversy surrounding Obama’s relationship with his church’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and comments he made about “bitter” small town voters have damaged his appeal with a key Democratic voting bloc: rural, working-class whites. She will have won Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky, rust-belt states with similar demographics, all after the revelation of Wright’s anti-American sermons. Throw in her victory in the general election bellwether state of Ohio, and it makes for a fairly convincing argument that Clinton stands a better chance in November than Obama against Sen. John McCain.
Obama supporters won’t take this lying down, of course. They could protest the decision to the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention, which will meet after the primaries and before the convention opens in late August. The full make up of the committee is dependent on the outcome of the primaries. And true to everything about the democratic primary to date, it is complicated.
One hundred sixty-one of the committee’s 186(!) members are allotted to each campaign in a ratio equal to the performance in each state contest. Those results would necessarily mirror pledged delegate counts. Under the current scenario, Obama would have a majority of the 161 seats on the committee. But the process also means that the final makeup of the committee can not be determined until the primaries are over. In any case the split between Obama and Clinton supporting members will be razor thin. Moreover, should the Rules and Bylaws committee vote to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations, there could be a battle over the make up of the Credentials Committee itself. Michigan and Florida would in theory be entitled to seats on the committee, boosting Sen. Clinton’s representation and enhancing the chance that the disputed delegation would win final approval.
As if that wasn’t chaotic enough, the remaining 25 members of the Credentials Committee are appointed directly by DNC Chairman Howard Dean. One presumes that he would be able to swing his bloc of votes on the committee to whichever candidate he believed would make the better general election opponent for McCain. In his time as DNC Chair, Dean has espoused the philosophy that the Democratic Party should be a 50-state party and compete across all demographics. But he will have to choose which traditionally Democratic demographic is most important to the future of the party: working-class whites who are increasingly siding with Clinton and vulnerable to being picked off by McCain; or African-Americans who side with Obama in overwhelming numbers and have voted for the Democratic presidential nominee nearly 9-1 in recent elections.
Efforts to resolve the dispute over Michigan and Florida have not been fruitful. Clinton has not made life any easier for Dean by reneging on her pledges not to appear on Michigan’s ballot and not to campaign in Florida. Her insistence on seating the two delegations in their entirety is the better principle for the Democratic Party to follow, however. It avoids alienating voters in two critical states for the general election. That is especially true for Michigan, where Democratic governance has led to a one-state recession and an embarrassing spectacle in Detroit. In the end, Dean will have to decide if the Democratic Party is a party built to win now or to carry a governing coalition into the future. By the end of this month, we may know if the party’s presidential nominating process will leave it hopelessly broken, or just greatly weakened.