Monday, June 02, 2008

Spitting on Half the Baby

The DNC's Solomon-like decision on Saturday seems to have hit about as decent a way of resolving a fiasco as could be expected.

The delegates were reinstated but with half the vote. This was the Republican party's approach and probably should have been the punishment originally (didn't the DNC consider from the start that disenfranchising voters completely was a form of collective punishment that would eventually need to be rectified)? Better late than never.

Now that the votes DO count for something, how does the DNC interpret the vote? Obviously telling voters in those states (as well as candidates) that any vote would count for nothing...then later reversing the directive...creates a distortion of the actual vote, and the DNC was right to correct it as best it could.

The Florida vote no doubt underrepresents Obama, since he didn't campaign there, but there's no practical (or fair) way to determine that, so awarding those votes as cast was pretty straightforward.

The Michigan vote was going to need to be a compromise of some sort. Hillary only got 55% of the vote and she wasn't even running against anyone: so those delegates shouldn't just go to her automatically. Any compromise ultimately reflected a formula that would be controversial, but in attempting to create a formula of some sort the DNC basically admitted it had *cked up the vote in the first place and this was its most reasonable interpretation of what the voters intended.

It seems that Harold Ickes and Hillary's supporters would be satisfied with nothing less than Hillary getting a clean sweep of Michigan. But this willfully misrepresents that this is a vote for delegates, not for candidates: if 45% of Michigan voters SPECIFICALLY VOTED TO DENY delegates to Clinton, then they should be denied to Clinton. And there's little doubt now that there's no one else for them to support save Obama. The DNC could have seated those as specifically "uncommitted" delegates but doing so would have dragged out the indecision till the convention: yes, probably that would have been the most objectively "fair" thing but also, at the same time, the most politically suicidal for winning in the fall.

So in doing what they did, the DNC was both fair and protective of the interests of the Democratic party as a whole. In achieving this delicate balance to correct this misjudgments from last year, they acted like the responsible leaders they needed to be.

Ironic, then, that Hillary's supporters have decided to react like the most spoiled of brats. It strikes me that playing the post-decision game like she has - sending out Mr. Ickes to claim "theft" and righteous indignation - was not the most strategic thing for Hillary to do. Yes, counting uncommitted in Michigan undermines her argument about not counting them toward the popular vote (as if this tactic had any basis in reality either)...but surely she must recognize that the DNC has no stomach now to revisit this issue again. It just seems to me, at this point, Hillary would have more chance of swaying delegates if she were to support the DNC and stay focused on winning voters in Montana and South Dakota.

Instead, she's encouraging the sour grapes meme that, if left unchecked, threatens her entire political career. Because us voters in New York who love her will also never forgive her for scuttling our chances in '08. And in dragging it out, she makes it harder to envision any way that Obama could include her in an administration, let alone on the ticket. On Wednesday, she still has a chance to reign this all in and unite behind the Democratic candidate. If she doesn't do it then, then Hillary, alone, will have given an election that by all rights would be ours away to the Republicans. That's not just sour grapes: that's a poison pill.

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