Saturday, May 31, 2008

Snookered?

Talk about gavel to gavel coverage. At least three networks: CNN, MSNBC and CSPAN carried full coverage of the DNC Rules Committee meeting today. So, as the nation watched us make some pretty fine sausage, the committee voted to seat the full delegations from both Florida and Michigan; however, delegates from both states, including "superdelegates" will have half a vote. Michigan's pledged delegates, where most candidates, including Obama, withdrew their names from the ballot out of respect for the rules, were allocated 69/59, or 29.5 delegate votes for Obama and 34.5 for Clinton. There is also some indication that there was a separate understanding that the two delegates appointed by the Michigan chair would be Obama delegates. The Obama campaign made major concessions to allow this compromise to occur. With the support of the Obama campaign and the Rules Committee, the State Parties from Florida and Michigan got essentially what they wanted. But, were they all snookered by the Clinton campaign?

Just when I thought that Democrats might be headed to a campfire, some s'mores and a few verses of Kum Ba Yah, Harold Ickes turned on his mic and made two things clear: while Hillary Clinton accepts the ruling on Florida, she does not accept the decision on Michigan. Ickes delivered a passionate speech that I suspect contains some of her talking points for the next days, and unfortunately, perhaps weeks. How could the committee of 30 substitute their judgement for the will of 600,000 Michigan voters? How could the committee essentially steal four delegates from Clinton and hand Obama delegates that he did not earn? Ickes ended with a message from Clinton herself: he held open the possibility that she would take the fight over Michigan to the Credentials Committee.

Short of seating the entire delegations with full votes, and giving Obama nothing out of Michigan-a fairytale that was never going to happen-I think that Clinton may have gotten exactly what she wanted out of today. She got some additional delegates, and she gets to continue this fight, if she chooses, arguing that the committee's action was not fair to her-or the the voters of Michigan. Now, I think that argument is poppycock. As Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told The Associated Press, "I don't think is a position that people find terribly reasonable."

Here's the math according the MSNBC:

The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama 66 delegates short but still within striking distance after the three final primaries are held in the next three days. Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including superdelegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including superdelegates, and 56.5 in Florida. Obama's total increased to 2,052, and Clinton had 1,877.5, according to The Associated Press calculations.


Clinton's disagreement with the decision about Michigan leaves little chance that Obama will be able to claim victory next week with her blessing. The only questions that remains are(1) will he do it anyway (I think so), (2) how far will Clinton take her fight, and what will the consequence be for her own political future? and (3) will there be blood on the floor at the end of this, and if so, whose will it be?

1 comment:

Tina said...

Harole Ickes was really full of sound and fury at a time when a more reasoned approach would have better aided his cause.