Tuesday, February 12, 2008

End Run

The campaign continues to roll on with the chance of the contest continuing to the convention growing every day. Obama has been on a roll of late and Hillary has had some internal issues to deal with, but the delegate count remains a virtual dead heat. Both candidates continue to try and paint themselves as the underdog as they make their stump speeches. While the online money is still coming in at an incredible rate for the Obama camp, the Clinton camp has said that they have been collecting money at a rate of over $1 million a day since Super Tuesday.

There is a dark specter hanging over the race however. The Clinton's camp call for the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated at the convention could throw the entire process into absolute chaos. If the possibility of a brokered convention wasn't enough to provide the members of the DNC with endless sleepless nights, the chance that there may be a serious push to get the delegates of both states seated might be forcing them toward thoughts of suicide. Both Florida and Michigan primaries were penalized for moving up their dates to take place before Super Tuesday. All the candidates agreed not to run advertising or to campaign in those states before the primaries were held. In fact all the candidates, except Hillary Clinton, got their names removed from the Michigan ballot. No one could have foreseen the current situation in which both candidates may actually come up short of the required number for nomination before the convention.

The issue at hand is that both the Michigan and Florida committee's were informed that their decision would result in severe penalties and ALL the candidates agreed to abide by those rules. The Clinton campaign has now begun to make noise about allowing both delegations to be seated. Hillary Clinton happened to win both contests and her campaign is talking daily about the fact that it would a mistake to disenfranchise the voters of the state by not allowing their voices to heard at the convention. I wonder if the calls would be as loud if they had lost both of those states. Would we hear Hillary or Bill bemoaning the fate of those delegates if the count would favor Barack Obama? Call me a cynic, but I think not.

The DNC has said that both states can file to have another primary or caucus in their states to decide the correct apportioning of their delegates. So far neither state committee has taken any steps in that direction. The Clinton campaign wants no part of a caucus in either state because of the strength that Obama has shown in those contests. The Clinton camp likes things the way they are now. They would like the votes in Michigan to stand when the voters weren't given a choice of who to vote for (45% of them still decided to vote "uncommitted" instead of pulling the lever for her). And they would like the votes in Florida to stand, where Hillary made several fundraising visits before the vote took place (while not a violation of the letter of the agreement not to campaign before the primary, it certainly looked like a violation of the spirit of the agreement).

There have been some suggestions made, such as having the delegates be apportioned based on the national delegate total (which would basically split them 50/50), but the Clinton campaign seems hell bent on having these delegates split based on the primary results. If for some reason this gambit were to pay off and the delegations were seated and allowed to vote based on the unsanctioned primary count, it may very well set off a catastrophic upheaval in the democratic party. The Obama camp would undoubtedly cry foul and his supporters would be up in arms. The prospect of the super delegates casting their votes for the candidate who is trailing in the pledged delegate count and thereby usurping the will of the voters is unappealing enough, but having the election rules changed at the last second to benefit one candidate over another could result in the worst split in the democratic party in modern times. Obama supporters would leave the convention at best disillusioned and at worst angry. They would probably take their votes and go home and stay home for the general election as well.

The democrats have always protested that the Supreme Court overturned the will of the voters in the Bush-Gore contest and have always presented themselves as the party of the people. It would be contrary to everything they stand for as a party to have the nomination decided, not by the people, but by a small group of DNC members on the rules committee (who will have the ultimate say about who will be seated at the convention). This is a crisis that would for all intents and purposes, rip the party in two. Any candidate coming out of that kind of convention would be mortally wounded. The general election in November would be a forgone conclusion. I would ask this question of the Clinton campaign, "Is it worth destroying the party to secure the nomination"? I don't have the answer to that question, but my gut tells me that at Clinton headquarters, nothing is off the table.

1 comment:

Sandy Jimenez said...

The really sad thing is, they've both destroyed any chance of one selecting the other for a running mate. The fallout from their campaign strategies have spawned a heads or tails scenario. Clinton (feels weird referring to Hillary and not Bill) has repeatedly maintained that Obama is just not experienced enough (read: qualified to lead) to be president. So how could she now turn around and ask him to be her second in command? Obama has repeatedly painted Hillary as a part of the 90s Washington establishment (read: corrupt). Conversely, how then, could he pick her as a running mate? With both of them inspiring "unheard of" numbers at the polls, in historically apathetic counties and states, it would be a shame to see any of that now active, energized Democratic voting block staying home should their candidate not get to the nomination. Why is this important? Because a Democrat, any Democrat, has to win. The Supreme Court has several judges over the age of 70. It's entirely possible that the next president will have the opportunity to replace them... scared of a McCain/Huckabee ticket yet?
McCain himself is 71, approaching the age Reagan was at the end of his second term. Should he die in office... ladies and gentlemen of the United States, I present to you, President Huckabee.
Yeah, the apocalypse just keeps rolling along.