Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Beat Goes On

The ever increasingly murky road to the Democratic Party's nomination for president took a detour over a big speed bump Saturday. The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee spent the day trying to work out a reasonable compromise over the problems created by Michigan and Florida.

When those states moved up their primaries, they violated party rules and were stripped of their delegates to the national convention. Those primaries meant nothing. All the candidates were listed in Florida, but none campaigned there. All the candidates had their names taken off the ballot in Michigan except Hillary Clinton. Clinton won 54% of the vote in Michigan. 40% went to uncommitted delegates. In Florida, Clinton won with 50% to Obama's 33%. As Clinton's campaign has run out of options for her to win the nomination, she's become more determined to make the results of those two states mean something. Seating full delegations from the two states based on the results of their primaries would really cut into Obama's delegate lead. And the Democratic Party really can't afford to piss off voters in Michigan and Florida, two important swing states in the upcoming general election. A compromise is needed that is fair to both candidates.

Steven Colbert examines the problem in a segment called "Democralypse Now"...

On Saturday, the Rules and Bylaws Committee held a contentious meeting with much of the action going on behind closed doors.

The public portion of the program was bad enough with a lot of carping and complaining after the committee came up with a "cut the baby in half" decision -- a decision to seat the delegations from both states at half strength. The committee voted unanimously to apportion Florida's delegates according to the results of the January 29 primary, then voted 19-8 to give Clinton 34.5 Michigan delegates to Obama's 29.5 based on that 54% Clinton, 40% uncommitted result in that state's primary. That decision was, by far, the more controversial one.

The decisions cut into Obama's delegate lead, but not nearly as much as the Clinton camp had hoped. The added delegates increase the number needed for the nomination to 2118. Obama is now 66 shy of that mark; Clinton still needs 240. Most of the carping over the decisions was done by the Clinton camp. Chants of "Denver, Denver, Denver" signal that this battle over Michigan and Florida will probably go all the way to the convention and a fight before the credentials committee. In fact, Harold Ickes, a top Clinton supporter on the committee was complaining about "hijacked" delegates and added, "Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee."

It's past the time for Clinton to bow out gracefully. This needs to come to a close soon, preferable immediately after the final primaries next week. She needs to stop trying to undermine Obama, stop trying to persuade superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters, stop this fight over the Michigan and Florida delegations, and start working to unify the party. Not only is this infighting seriously beginning to hurt Obama's prospects in the general election, it's also sucking up all the campaign dollars, hampering the prospects of Democrats running for lesser offices. If she won't end this gracefully, the remaining uncommitted superdelegates need to get off the fence and do it for her before the Democrats lose yet another sure victory.

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posted at 5:52:00 AM by Duane Tate

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