Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel(Dennis)

Hillary Clinton needs to stop the disingenuous games. Michigan and Florida should not count unless there are new contests.

"Democracy!" comes the protest from Hillary. "We want the voters to decide!" War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Hillary Clinton wants a fair, democratic contest for the nomination. Let's go back to the beginning to put this current fight in its proper context.....

Do you know who spent more money than anyone else on their 2006 Senate race? There are many people who would be very good guesses. Robert Menendez was an incumbent in the very expensive NJ media market , fighting for his political life againt an attractive opponent, but it wasn't him. Nor was it Bob Casey, who ran against an established incubant in the large state of Pennsylvania. Nor was it Claire McCaskill, Jim Webb, Jon Tester or any other Democrat running in a close race trying to recapture the Senate for the Democrats.

No, it was Hillary Clinton who spent the most by far. She spent $37 million dollars in a campaign where she was never up by less than 20 points, and where she faced an opponent who was a token Republican who had no shot of winning. Some of that money could have been given to candidates in close races to help the party. But no, instead she chose to spend $37million dollars to show people that she could. She was attempting to build an American version of the palace of Versailles, to waste money and intimidate rivals into not even beginning their campaigns no matter how worthy they were. Her method was very Louis XIV, but her intent was more like Herod, that ancient monarch of Roman Palestine, who slaughtered infants so that a challenge to his power would not emerge when they grew strong enough to defend themselves.

And for a time it worked, Mark Warner and Evan Bayh two candidates with superior resumes than she dropped out of the race when it seemed that there was no way they could beat Hillary. Countless others did not even begin to consider to get into the race, because all of the big Democratic donors had been sucked into Hillary's orbit. This did not happen because she was the most skilled candidate; Jon Edwards, and Barack Obama are far better on the stump than she. Nor was it because she was the most experience; Richardson, Warner, Biden, and Dodd all have more experience. It was because her last name was Clinton, her husband was the former president, she was most likely to win, and those that didn't pledge to her (and now) would likely be left out of all the fun in the 2nd Clinton administration.

Hillary was doing her best to make sure voters didn't have a choice; if it were up to her she would have been carried on a gilded chariot to the convention hall in Denver, anointed with oil, and been proclaimed Queen Clinton II, lord of all she surveys.

But a funny thing happened on her way to the nomination. Barack Obama and, to a lesser extent, John Edwards got themselves funding and an organization with the few pieces of the Democratic Party left after the Clinton plunder. Barack Obama was successful in turning all the old institutions designed to anoint an insider favorite on their heads. Clinton controls the big city machines, that, along with her inheritance of votes from her husband, make her nearly unstoppable in large Blue states? Fine, the Obama campaign organized brilliantly and captured all the states where the Clintons had let the Democratic Party wither.

Now with their campaign in trouble, they attempt every tactic to win. They attempted to use race as a tactic to marginalize Obama. That didn't work. They attempted to position Hillary as the left wing candidate in the campaign despite her running to right for all of 2007. That didn't work either, so they turned to bashing Obama's supporters. African Americans were cast as boobs who would vote for the brownest person available, so their opinion didn't count. His enthusiastic young supporters were cast as part of a cult (it's telling that the Clinton campaign cannot even imagine that anyone could be so enthusiastic about a political campaign). And now, in what will hopefully be the last distortion in her shameless campaign, she sheds crocodile tears for "delegates" she won by going back on deals she made before the start of the race.

Her aim, of course, is not to win the race for pledged delegates, the 90 delegate advantage she would get from Michigan (where Obama was not even on the ballot )and Florida (where she had surrogates rally support and pandered to the public by all of a sudden disagreeing with the Democratic Party on whether their delegates should count) would not be enough to bring her within striking distance of Obama in that catagory. No, she wants to bring the pledged delegate race as close as possible so her endgame of arm twisting Democratic officials into finally placing the crown on her head in the end, as she tried to do in the beginning, will have the best chance of working. This is why her campaign has begun to call Super Delegates "Automatic Delegates."

Allowing Michigan and Florida to count would not only be unfair, for all the usual reasons, but would buy into the anti-democratic strategy Clinton has waged from the beginning. That should be reason enough to reject it.

But there is one final reason. If you even want the party to be able to reform the delegate selection process for the primaries, you have to accept the party having the ability to refuse entrance for states that violated the process. Otherwise, this system will be total anarchy where each state gets to decide for itself where and how it will allocate delegates, with no ability for the national party to discipline it. If Illinois decided to make their primary "winner take all" would disallowing the Illinois delegates be "disenfranchising" Illinois voters?

Florida and Michigan bet that the could gain a greater voice in the process by breaking the rules that all other states followed. They lost that bet, and they should not now be rewarded for their dishonesty.


Jonathan said...

Good god, I have to go but the post literally had zero arguments and instead was just an anti-Hillary rant. Your final argument only makes sense if we are not going to referm the system, which we will. In fact, as NH, IA and SC all moved up their caucuses too why are they still allowed delegates. Also respond to the fact that this was all a craven political move on part of Obama, taking his name of in MI, but not FL.

Dennis said...

Following the rules is a "craven political move"? Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, and Barack Obama all took their names off the ballot because they were following party rules and because they expected Clinton to do so as well.

The system is set up so that a celebrity cannot sweep through big states early, coasting on money and name recognition. Sure, it shouldn't be the same small states to go first all the time and reforms need to be made, but it's a good principle. All of them withdrew their names because they didn't want to be trounced before they had a chance to campaign and build name recognition.

Clinton again used her name as her chief asset.

Also, it didn't have "zero arguments." I tried to make one which hadn't been made, which is using that the Clintons are using a benevolent principle to forward their undemocratic end of winning with Super-Delegates. This is like when strict constructionist judges use the 14th amendment (drafted to make African Americans equal) to overturn affirmative action laws.

Also the final argument makes sense in the current context, if the Illinois Democratic Party had said that they were going to make their primary "winner take all" that would be the same as the situation we have today. It would be unjust in that case to use their distorted delegation, and it's unjust here as well.

Jonathan said...

Dennis, your argument is core logical fallacy. It doesn't matter how you feel about the Clintons or if you want Hillary or Barack to get the nomination. This issue is about whether or not people's votes should count. I will give you an example, let's say the supposed "race-baiting" got more people to vote for her. Now, first of all I don't think it was race-baiting and I think it's pretty irresponsible of the media to have just started asserting that it was. But let's say that that swayed votes. That's a pretty disgusting way to get votes, would you invalidate them? Of course not. The truth is just because you have convenient excuse to invalidate the votes of someone you don't like doesn't mean you ought to do it. I need to be very very compelled to understand why the party should disenfranchise these voters. The only argument people seem to have is: "But the party already disenfranchised these people, rules are rules." This is ridiculous, these votes we equally fought for and equally contended for and were WAY more democratic than in any caucus state.

Stop lying for Barack, they all took their name off the ballot because Hillary had a certain win in MI. The best counter evidence is, why were they still on the ballot in FL? If you can show me a reasonable, non-spinny explanation for that I'll buy it. Remember, this is a no-spin zone!

Dennis said...

Well, Florida was a better chance for a Hillary win than Michigan. Hillary had all the New Yorkers there, whereas MI is close to Illinois and has a larger African American community. The reason Edwards, Obama, and everyone else stayed in Florida was because they saw that she stayed in MI.

But really I am agreeing with you that MI seemed like a sure Hillary victory at the time they all dropped out. If you want to have a system where people with early establishment money and name recognition cruise to the nomination every time, by all means allow MI and other big states jump early into the process.

MI and Florida tried to destroy the process the DNC laid out and Hillary is trying to take advantage of it. Their voters were not disenfranchised, they had exactly the voice their representatives wanted them to have, namely that they contributed to the momentum of the campaign. Florida esp. helped Hillary look less like her campaign was on the ropes after Iowa. Florida and MI bet that their votes would be more valuable to the momentum of whichever candidate won as a delegate-less beauty contest than as another primary on Super Tuesday. They should have to live with that decision, or there will be no incentive to ever ever follow the DNC again, so long as you can construe they contest they had as democratic.

Look, I think we both think Joe Biden got shafted by the electorate, but Joe at least had a chance to make his case in Iowa (Maybe if it were a different small state, like RI he would have won). If big states like MI dominated the early process he'd need $30 million before he even started and there would have been no such thing as a Joe Biden campaign.

Finally, yes, I am not objective, I don't pretend to be, and I don't think in a fight, political or otherwise. But somehow all of your positions line up exactly with what helps Hillary. Now you are arguing democracy, but before Super Tuesday you said that Hillary would win because she had organization that would crush naive little Obama and his crowd of hopemongers. I imagine that if Hillary wins via super delegates you will be OK with that too.

These contests are wholly undemocratic and shitty from the beginning. If all the candidates had an equal opportunity to make their case, I think we both think Joe Biden would be still be in it rather than these two. It ought to be reformed, but to make a piecemeal philosophical stand for Democracy in one area of a very large process at this stage of the game is ridiculous.