Thursday, May 22, 2008

The One and Only

The Clinton campaign and their supporters are now doing something that they accuse the Obama supporters of doing. They have "drank the kool-Aid" and are now willing to argue points that are completely without merit. From Hillary and Bill to the campaign staff to the Clinton supporters on the web, they are now willing to argue that not only do the rules simply do not apply to them, but that anything that does not favor their argument is some illegitimate.

In any contest, a set of rules are agreed to before the contest begins. If this were not the case, chaos would ensue. Before this campaign for the nomination began, each candidate (including Hillary Clinton) agreed that the Michigan and Florida primaries would not count because they had defied the DNC and moved their election dates. Harold Ickes, one of Clintons closest advisers was on the committee that approved the rules. Senator Clinton herself made statements in which she agreed that the votes in those states didn't count for anything. Therefore the number of delegates required to win the nomination was 2,024 (that number has since been increased because of the Democratic gains in the special Congressional elections). However, now that Senator Obama has that number well within his grasp, the Clinton campaign is arguing that the number to secure the nomination must include the delegates from Florida and Michigan. Is it just me, or is that an absolutely ridiculous point?

The fact that Hillary Clinton is now claiming that her fight to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates is somehow akin to the fight for women's suffrage or the battle for civil rights is absolutely preposterous. I can guarantee, without reservation, that if the positions were reversed, that Senator Clinton would not be "fighting" to have those delegates recognized. This is purely a politics play. The problem with this, outside of the obvious, is that it is attempting to de-legitimize the Obama victory. The Clinton supporters have somehow decided that this not only the DNC's fault, but also Obama's (as if he were part of the DNC rules committee). If this were about fairness then you would think that even Clinton's supporters could not argue that the Michigan result should stand as it is. Senator Clinton was the only candidate on the ballot and unless we have somehow been transferred to the old Soviet Union, that is not how a Democracy is run.

The next argument that the Clinton camp has put forward is that they are winning the popular vote and therefore have some claim to the nomination. Let's forget the fact that their total includes the illegitimate votes in Florida and Michigan (where Obama's name wasn't even on the the ballot) and revisit the words of the Clinton Campaign's chief advisor, Terry McAuliffe. After Hillary Clinton's loss in Iowa, he was quick to remind everyone that the race was about delegates and since Hillary had a solid lead in that category (at that point provided by the super delegates), the race was not about the popular vote. Now, the campaign is espousing the exact opposite viewpoint. First of all the popular vote is an inexact measure, because of the lack of votes counted in the caucus states. Secondly, if at the beginning of a baseball game, everyone agrees that it is the winner is the team with the most runs and then in the ninth inning tries to argue that it's the team with the most hits that actually wins, I think everyone would have to agree that their argument doesn't hold any water.

The Clinton camp makes another ridiculous argument by pointing out that her recent landslide victories in West Virginia and Kentucky are somehow indicative of Obama losing support as the race continues. This argument, of course, treats his victory in Oregon (with has less than a 5% African-American vote) as somehow less important because they say so. The elections have broken pretty much to form since Super Tuesday. I would bet that there is not one pundit worth his or her salt, who could not have predicted the outcome of every race since Super Tuesday. Hell, I did it and I'm pretty sure that I have spent a lot less time on the campaign than those on the Clinton staff. To base an argument on the variances in the primary schedule is just silly. Obama won Virgina and Maryland (200 total delegates) by overwhelming margins and he even won the White vote in Wisconsin. Did that mean that Hillary Clinton had a "problem" with Whites or did it just mean that those states were predisposed to vote for Obama? I would argue, and I think successfully, that the answer is the latter.

The Clinton camp has now become what it always accused the Obama campaign of being. They have been reduced to making emotional arguments as opposed to rational ones. I have always said that Senator Clinton has the right to continue her campaign for as long as she'd like. I don't believe that the length of the campaign itself has done any damage to the Democratic party. However, when the argument for your campaign no longer deals with the rational but with the emotional, it does start to do some damage to the party. Some of Clinton's supporters have now bought the argument that the Obama victory is not legitimate and regardless of what Hillary Clinton says at the end of the campaign, their emotional commitment is now too deep to allow them to see reason. For them, this campaign is no longer about beating the Republicans in November, the campaign and their involvement has become a personal battle about one thing and one thing only, making sure Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee of the Democratic party regardless of the cost.

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