Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
— Old line, but an easy way to remember how to vote
Did you see the three speeches last night? I question my own objectivity, given my role; but McCain seemed uncomfortable, addressing perhaps 200 rather subdued, mostly older folks . . . whereas both Obama and Clinton addressed large, wildly enthusiastic, diverse crowds (Obama had 27,000 at his) and either one of them struck me as inspirational world leaders.
Not to say the election will be easy . . . for every voter who goes to a rally there must be 500 who don’t. But it seems to me that the ability to inspire is an important attribute of leadership; and that leadership is sorely needed if we’re going to begin solving the problems we face.
This much seems clear: we’re just about to enter Phase 2, finally. (You know, the phase where Democrats compete against Republicans instead of each other.) I, for one – enthusiastically neutral between our two superb candidates until the end – can’t wait.
The first job will be reuniting the Party.
ANGRY WE HAVE SUPERDELEGATES
Craig D.: ‘I don’t understand this Super Delegate stuff. I thought Democrats were supposed to be egalitarian in their thoughts. But you are an elitist SUPER delegate! Are you noshing on finger sandwiches while the regular delegates eat your crumbs? Does a regular delegate live in the flatlands while you live in a SUPER mansion on the hill? Will the Republican serfs be tilling the fields for you? What are we coming to when we have different classes of Democrats?’
☞ Well, we’re generally a good bit more egalitarian than our competition, but Democratic Senators and Representatives and state party chairs and vice chairs – who make up the largest share of automatic (or so-called ‘super’) delegates – do tend to have more clout in the Party than the average voter. Likewise former Democratic Presidents of the United States, like Jimmy Carter, who also get this status.
Then again, these people were elected by average voters, albeit not for this specific task. And they get no more votes than regular delegates – one vote each like anybody else.
(How did you hear about the finger sandwiches?)
ANGRY THE SUPER DELEGATES DIDN’T CHOOSE HILLARY
James A.: ‘Folks here in Florida are really shell-shocked by the ‘Democratic’ party. My sense is that a Super Delegate should vote for the candidate who can win in November (clearly, Hillary). Otherwise, why bother having Super Delegates at all?’
☞ Well, yes, that’s exactly what superdelegates should do. But you pack an awful lot into a two-word parenthetical phrase (‘clearly Hillary’). I agree think Hillary can beat McCain – though a lot of Barack supporters disagree. But Barack can beat him also (though a lot of Hillary voters disagree).
Working in Barack’s favor, if he is the nominee, will be the combined campaigning strength of the nominee himself and all his fired up supporters; Hillary and Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Edwards, Jimmy Carter, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen, 28 Democratic Governors – and many others, like the million or more ‘neighborhood leaders’ we expect to empower this summer . . . the unions . . . women’s groups (why would women who voted for Hillary favor McCain, who opposes a woman’s right to choose?) . . . environmental groups (with whom McCain scores zero) . . . African Americans, young Americans, disabled Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBT Americans (why would we favor McCain, who opposes granting equal rights?) . . . and, I think, as America gets to know him over the next five months, even those who actually know how to bowl.
Not to say it will be easy. But those of us who are Democrats – or Independents or Republicans Obama has inspired – have every reason to throw ourselves into this effort with enthusiasm.
ANGRY ABOUT FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN
Wayne S.: ‘Here are the reasons why I am leaving the Democratic Party. (1) DNC planned to punish Florida and Michigan rank-and-file Democrats for the actions of state legislators. (2) DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee decision Saturday confirmed the planned disenfranchisement of Florida and Michigan rank-and-file Democrats. (3) DNC leadership acted too passively to resolve the Florida and Michigan primaries matter. (4) DNC leadership could have simply told both Obama and Clinton that re-votes would be held, if funds were raised to cover the cost. This would have been the fairest solution, period, for a problem that should have never existed in the first place (see #1 above). For full disclosure purposes, I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton. It is my opinion that Democratic Party leaders did not want a re-vote in Florida and Michigan because Obama might not have fared well.’
☞ I wrote back to tell Wayne I really appreciate his passion for getting the right outcome for our country . . . I share it . . . and that, within the bounds of my neutrality, I also share his admiration of, and enthusiasm for, Senator Clinton. (And it’s not the worst thing to be friends with the President of the United States. So it would hardly disappoint me to see Hillary win.)
And yet (I wrote), the truth is that when Harold Ickes, among others, voted to take away 100% of MI and FL delegates, it was absolutely not done to favor or disfavor any one of the several candidates then running. Harold is as smart as they come – and as fiercely loyal to Senator Clinton as anyone. He would never have tried to tilt the rules against her.
The further truth is that both states were encouraged to run re-votes. According to the rules, it was their choice. But for a variety of reasons, what seemed simple – ‘just do a revote’ – wasn’t something either found a way to do.
In Florida (my state), Senator Nelson is the senior Democratic elected official, and he, like Harold Ickes, is a strong Hillary supporter. So he would never have purposely tried to tilt this to her disadvantage. But the mechanics and cost of staging a revote were daunting. For one thing, the paperless voting machines in many of the state’s largest counties had been scrapped (and good riddance), to be replaced by paper-trail machines for November that had not yet arrived. So, among many other problems: how do you hold a revote without voting machines?
There’s much more to it than this (and doubtless more to it than I know). But having been fairly closely involved and knowing many of the players – and having asked some pretty tough questions myself – I’m persuaded that the only ‘villain’ here were the Florida Republicans in Tallahassee. Our folks voted unanimously for an amendment to push the date back to Feb 5 to avoid losing delegates; the Republicans, who control the Florida legislature, wouldn’t allow it.
Was it because they knew it would throw us into disarray and divide us? At first, I didn’t think Karl Rove could be THAT smart. Now I’m not so sure. But, planned or not, it sure worked, didn’t it? It got terrific Democrats like Wayne so angry they say they’re leaving the Party.
So why not just change the rules to accept all Florida and Michigan delegates?
We all agree every fair game needs rules and honest referees. And that bad rules should be changed – but not in the middle of a game. (Except by mutual consent.)
It’s in the Party’s interest to have an organized process. Some progress was made this year (in my view) by adding SC and NV to the pre-February 5th ‘window.’ But I share Michigan Senator Carl Levin’s view that IA and NH should not always go first. Among other things, Iowa’s primacy has screwed up our farm policy and led to the ethanol insanity. So I expect that for 2012 there will be further improvement in the rules. At least I hope so.
The rules penalizing states by 50% (with discretion for stronger sanctions like the ones Harold Ickes and other Clinton supporters wound up voting for) were set and agreed to LONG before anyone knew which states, if any, would break them . . . or which candidates that might help or hurt.
I’d encourage anyone who feels as Wayne does to take the time to delve into what happened at every step along the way. The more you dig, the more I think you will be confirmed in the view (which I share) that this mess was really unfortunate . . . but the less you will be left thinking it was designed to hurt Hillary or that it was something the Democratic Party or the DNC should be faulted for.
I am hoping that as we near November 4, Wayne and others will come home.
I’M ANGRY TOO
About the Iraq catastrophe (read former White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan’s book); about the deprofessionalization of FEMA; about the brakes put on stem cell research; about the obscene redistribution of wealth from the middle class to the very richest; about the 75% of our soon-to-be $10 trillion National Debt racked up under Reagan, Bush and Bush; about the missed opportunities on energy policy – and the Cheney energy task force so secret that even a GAO lawsuit never did pry loose even the list of attendees; about the stolen election in 2000; about the signing statements; about Valerie Plame; about torture and the suspension of habeas corpus; about the Swiftboating of John Kerry and the character assassination of Al Gore and Max Cleland and Tom Daschle; about the politicization of the Justice Department and its US Attorneys; about the incarceration of Alabama Governor Don Siegelman that appalled even Republicans; about the willful discrimination against gay Americans; about the editing of scientific papers for political purposes and the blending of religion with science; about the Halliburton no-bid contracts; about the culture of corruption within the Republican Party (could Alaska Senator Ted Stevens’ indictment be next?); about the failure properly to regulate the ‘liar loans’ that were so obviously contributing to a real estate bubble that could only end badly. And on and on and on.
I’m sure there are a few things to be angry with Democrats about, but they don’t remotely rise to this level of severity or abundance.*
The way I deal with my anger is to do what I can to help widen our hair-thin lead in Congress and win back the White House. It’s great therapy.
Coming soon: Hope for a brighter day.
*The only thing that springs to mind at this particular moment are the alleged finger sandwiches. Why didn’t anyone tell me there were finger sandwiches?
Quote of the Day
Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.~Andrew Carnegie
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