PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

May 31, 2008

Unifying the Party

Filed under: Politics — CPav @ 11:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We’re fostering a litter of puppies this weekend, and the city of Ellisville had the grand opening of our long-overdue Public Works facility, so I was in and out all day, but watched as much of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee hearings today on the resolution Florida and Michigan primaries.

For those who haven’t been following, both Michigan and Florida moved their primaries earlier in the season, against the warnings of the RBC, which informed them both that their primaries wouldn’t count, and their delegates wouldn’t be seated if they didn’t proceed on the DNC schedule. They chose not to. At that time (last Fall), all of the candidates agreed to not campaign in either state. All of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd took their names off the Michigan ballot. At the time, Clinton was quoted as saying that obviously those primaries wouldn’t count.

Fast forward a few months, and the Clinton campaign, no longer the presumptive nominee, ignored their previous statements and elevated the denial of Michigan and Florida delegates to a First Ammendment issue. Clinton also hyperbolically equated the penalties to voter suppression during the Jim Crow era and more recently in Zimbabwe.

Neither state could work out a re-vote proposal, so it fell to the RBC to decide what was to do, so fast forward again to today, and the public meeting to decide what was to be done with Florigan. Barack Obama, now the party’s presumptive nominee, urged his supporters to not demonstrate outside the meeting. The Clinton campaign bused their supporters in. Those protesters proved to be a disruptive force in the meeting, constantly heckling the speakers and at one point engaging one of the women on the committee, who implored them to act like mature adults. They heckled that too.

Actually, the Flor part was pretty easy, as both candidates’ names appeared on the ballot, so there was some indication as to the voters’ preferences. It can be (and was) argued that at the time of the primary (early January), Hillary Clinton was much better known in Florida than Barack Obama, so his inability to campaign there might have thrown some votes Clinton’s way that she might not have gotten had the voters gotten to know him. It could also be argued (and was) that some voters, told that their votes weren’t going to count, simply stayed home, but this would have applied to both candidates, and all of the others who were still in the race at the time (which, since it was the beginning of the race, was pretty much all of them).

Perhaps the most compelling argument against penalizing Florida was that the primary date was not set by the Florida Democratic committee, but by the state’s legislature, which is Republican-controlled. There was really nothing the Florida Democrats could have done. In the end, a motion was made to seat all of the Florida delegation with no penalties. That motion did not carry, so a new motion was made to seat the entire delegation, but to give them only a half vote each. That motion carried.
That penalty, it should be noted, is exactly what the Republicans did to penalize the Florida delegates to their convention as well.

It should be noted that most of the debate between the members of the committee was held during an extremely long “lunch” break. Individual members were allowed to make statements as to their support or non-support of the motions, but it was pretty much stage-managed to a large degree, at least as to which motions would be made and how.

Then came the -igan portion of the day. Michigan was more problematic, in that they didn’t have the whole Republican legislature to blame, and there was only one name on the ballot that was still in the race. The Clinton camp, of course, felt that she should get full credit for all of the votes cast for her, and that Obama should get all of the votes cast for him, which meant none. This despite anecdotal evidence that many of the “Undecided” voters voted that way because they were not able to vote for Obama, and that many more Obama supporters stayed home, since they couldn’t vote for him.

In fact, once it became clear that a re-vote was not possible, the Michigan Democratic Committee started doing research and came up with a delegate split that they felt accurately represented the wishes of the voters of Michigan, and proposed a 69/59 split of the state’s 128 delegates. Again, an initial motion was made to seat the Michigan delegation in full (with the “uncommitted” delegates free to vote for whoever they want), it was voted down, and a motion was made to seat the delegation as indicated by the state party, with the same half vote per delegate that Florida got, and that motion carried.

The Clinton campaign, in the person of Harold Ickes, a senior Clinton adviser as well as a member of the RBC, strongly objected, spewed some vitriol, claiming the RBC was “hijacking” the democratic process and reserving Senator Clinton’s rights to appeal to the Credentials Committee. All this over 4 delegates, representing 2 votes at the convention, due to the 50% penalty imposed. And all this despite the fact that last Fall, Senator Clinton said that none of the votes would count, and Harold Ickes himself voted for seating no delegates back when it appeared it wouldn’t matter to his candidate.

Significantly, another Clinton aide, whose name I can’t find right now, stood apart from Ickes and supported the Michigan compromise for the good of the party. In fact, most pre-meeting wisdom had Hillary Clinton with 13 supporters on the RBC, to Obama’s 8 and 9 uncommitted.

But when push came to shove, the Michigan compromise passed 19-8 (3 delegates couldn’t vote according to committee rules), meaning at least 5 of Clinton’s supporters presumably put the party before the candidate. According to MSNBC’s First Watch political blog, there were actually enough votes to pass Obama’s preferred 50/50 split of Michigan delegates by a vote or two, but in the interest of party unity, they agreed to the 69/59 split to pass it by a larger majority.

In the end, the Clinton campaign ended up looking like pouting children and sore losers, due in part to the behavior of Harold Ickes and their bused in protesters. Barack Obama, due in part to his fairly commanding lead in the delegate count, was able to be magnanimous and concede some Michigan delegates to Clinton.
 
 
 
The 300 Project: 32/107

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2 Comments »

  1. Yesterday DNC said to Floridians: you are only a half people. And today we respond to DNC: go to hell, we then chose McCain!

    Comment by commentspage — June 1, 2008 @ 7:06 am | Reply

  2. That is, of course, your choice. It is, in my opinion, a valid emotional response, but a total misreading of the situation. The votes of Floridians counted. It’s the votes of their representatives at the convention that are cut in half, and that is a fair penalty for the movement of the primary.

    Keep in mind, the original penalty was that no delegates would be seated. The 50% penalty represents a compromise.

    And please take time and consider whether you want to punish the country with four more years of the same old same old in order to “punish” the DNC for enforcing the rules halfway?

    Comment by CPav — June 1, 2008 @ 8:20 am | Reply


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