Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Say Anything

I'm pretty mad today. For the last few weeks, we have been treated to the spectacle of Clinton supporters demanding (usually surrogates on TV, but on this blog also) that Michigan and Florida voters not be disenfranchised. They must be allowed to select delegates to represent their voices at the convention! Otherwise, it's illegitimate! And so forth. That was the drumbeat in March.

Well, it didn't work. Dean has now said that delegates will be seated by agreement of the campaigns. Of course, this almost certainly means that Obama will retain a lead in delegates (any compromise between the two camps will be better than the "best case" Clinton scenario that she needs to win). So Clinton has changed her tack. She now says "there's no such thing as a pledged delegate." The delegates are selected in order to exercise their judgment to choose the better candidate - the voters be damned. So, if the delegates are not pledged to the voters in any way, I wonder why she wanted a revote in Michigan to choose new delegates? Or in Florida? So much for legitimacy. It's becoming destructive. One argument didn't work - let's say something else. Watch for what happens if, somehow, she should inch ahead by some measure in the popular vote (through some set of 60%+ victories) we will hear that superdelegates must follow the popular vote. The tune will change again.

What, exactly. is Clinton's pitch going to be to the no-longer-pledged delegates? I hear the echo of James Carville shouting "Judas!" to any Democrat who would dare disrespect Bill Clinton by not supporting his wife (that's almost how he put it). This has got to stop. If Clinton cannot set any principles by which she will contest this nomination, she doesn't have what it takes to be President. It's just disgraceful. Sorry to the Clinton supporters on this blog, but you've got to admit this is getting rank. Be honest, Hillary! Lay down a set of conditions that makes victory legitimate or not, and live by it. Be honorable and withdraw if you cannot meet it. Start thinking about the good of the party, not just yourself. Obama has done that (whoever gets the most pledged delegates under the DNC rules that all candidates agreed to - including HRC - should be the nominee). He would have withdrawn after Super Tuesday if she had taken a nearly insurmountable lead. Even the reverie of having the most beautiful baby girl in the whole world is not keeping me from getting really ticked off. I'm going to have to buy her an Obama onesie to assuage my anger.

Let me tell you what's next. The Clinton camp is saying that she should be the nominee because she has won all the big swing states that matter (by which she basically means Ohio). If she wins big in Puerto Rico, which is electorally irrelevant, she will claim it is so massively important that she has to be the nominee. Yaaaagh!


Dr. Strangelove said...

I agree that on that point, Hillary is dead wrong. Pledged delegates are precisely that: honor-bound to vote for a certain candidate. I am relieved that this quote has not been especially widely reported, and I hope she comes to her senses and drops the whole cockamamie idea before that happens.

Perhaps Hillary is pissed off this week--as I am--that Howard Dean has just granted Obama total veto power over any resolution to the MI/FL question. Dean's so-called "compromise" is about as equitable as a kick in the balls: the truth is that Dean has just handed Obama all the cards. Remember that Obama has zero incentive to compromise: he gets his best-case scenario in the delegate count if nothing happens and things stay just as they are. Think about that. Dean's "solution" shows he is at best a coward and at worst totally biased.

As for the idea of laying down a set of conditions that makes victory legitimate... I disagree completely. As I see it, Obama has done a reckless, selfish thing by laying out his own personal conditions for legitimacy. Because what happens if the superdelegates put Hillary over the top? Obama's pre-emptive de-legitimizing may well place him and the Democratic party in a world of hurt. Which is the point, of course. Obama is playing this like a game of chicken, trying to bully the superdelegates into surrendering their power to determine the outcome. It's about his own good, not the good of the party.

History Buff said...

LTG: Congratulations on the new rug rat. I hope you get some sleep. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of angry posts for awhile.


Raised By Republicans said...

Ah, the "pox on both your houses" defense. HRC can't be as bad as her behavior suggests because we can interpret Obama's behavior somewhat negatively too.

Of course both candidates want to win. But let's be clear about this. The entire mess in Michigan and Florida was caused by the Clinton campaign's reversal of an agreement by all the campaigns (including hers) pre-Iowa that these states would be punished for rescheduling without the permission of the DNC. But when HRC got soundly defeated in Iowa, her campaign reversed itself and started down the path we are now on.

I know Dr. S. doesn't see it that way but I believe is demonstrably in error in his view that HRC is blameless in this. We've gone back and forth on this a lot.

I agree with LTG that this behavior by HRC disqualifies her to be President. Normally I don't think I would agree with that. Normally, I think a feckless politician, willing to take any position to win is not a bad thing for democracy. It tends to generate policy that goes close to the preferences of the median voter. That's what Bill Clinton's presidency was like. It's why the far left of the Democratic party was so frustrated and why the Republicans were too. He identified the median voter position and stuck to it like glue but as the median voter position shifted, so did Clinton.

The problem now is that the next president is facing two major issues that cannot be resolved by political triangulation: the war in Iraq and the abuse of individual rights by an out of control executive branch.

I do not trust HRC to be sufficiently principled to resolve either problem in a satisfactory manner. These constantly shifting definitions for what constitutes a legitimate way to get elected is just another case that drives this point home to me.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Well, at least we all agree that pledged delegates are pledged delegates. Hillary is wrong to say that, and worse still, such a claim smacks of desperation.

I think History Buff is correct that both candidates are acting in their own self-interest. As I have said before, it is surely just a little too convenient that each candidate just happens to have taken positions on MI/FL, Superdelegates, and the "popular vote" that suit their own cause.

As a side note, this whole "popular vote" claim is a load of hooey. Some contests are open, some are closed, some are caucuses, some are primaries, and some contests do not even release the vote tallies. Apples to oranges.

Pombat said...

I totally agree that both candidates are taking positions that will benefit themselves - that's the whole point after all.

However, HRC has been changing her mind an awful lot, seemingly doing much more than Obama in the *whatever* it takes to win stakes.

And I have to admit I lost all respect for HRC when she "made a mistake" that "proved she was human" by 'misremembering' her trip to Bosnia in the '90s - there's a very big difference between running across an airfield under sniper fire and calmly walking, smiling, to a reception committee. A candidate who is either that forgetful or willing to lie so blatantly, would not be good for America (or the rest of us).

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yes, Hillary certainly damaged her reputation and her campaign with that false description of her landing at the airport Bosnia. It was humiliating. But I find it hard to believe her ad-lib was a deliberate lie, since it would seem exceedingly foolish to lie like that about an event well-documented with news photographers and TV camera crews.

More likely is that it was a simple confabulation. Sometimes when one recounts a personal story of which one is fond, one gradually exaggerates it, making a story more impressive than it actually was. The truth was she merely had been cautioned about the potential for danger going to Bosnia; over time she stretched that into falsely believing she had actually been in danger. She was warned there might be sniper fire; she ended up imagining it had happened nearby while she was there.

Apparently, this sort of thing has never happened to Pombat. But I have caught myself in that trap more than once. As I said, it is quite humiliating. Perhaps that is why I am willing to forgive that particular conceit in others.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I strongly agree with Obama's decision that the key is a majority of the pledged delegates. True, it may be (now) self-serving because he's headed to that majority, but many on this blog have agreed with his basic point: if the superdelegates overrule the majority of the party for their own purposes, it will be widely viewed as illegitimate. Clinton has yet to agree to this point. Funny how she says "those are the rules we play by" when it comes to superdelegates, but not when it comes to Michigan and Florida. Actually, it's not funny anymore.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Well, funny how Obama says "those are the rules we play by" when it comes to MI/Fl, but not when it comes to the superdelegates. And yes, I agree, funny how Hillary says, "those are the rules we play by" when it comes to the superdelegates, but not MI/FL.

That was my point, LTG: both candidates are inconsistent here, because both are acting in their own self-interest.

I have been on record on this blog--as you indicated--supporting Obama when it comes to the Superdelegates, and supporting Hillary when it comes to MI/FL.

And this so-called "popular vote" stuff is crap from both camps.

Pombat said...

Dr S - yes, you're right, we've all over-exaggerated stories at one time or another, in an entirely harmless manner. But we've not all tried to become one of the most powerful people on the planet, and therein lies my excuse for not forgiving HRC as readily as I would another for the same mistake.

Also, I didn't like the dismissive way she tried to explain away the comment when questioned on it - I got an uncomfortable feeling about her attitude there.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"I got an uncomfortable feeling about her attitude there."

Yes, I think that is Hillary's biggest weakness. She comes across badly sometimes. At best, those are instances of poor communication or speaking style. At worst, I suppose, they are accurate.

Pombat said...

I have a tendency to listen to my gut reaction when it's picking up on, and objecting to, attitude / body language / etc, especially with politicians - it adds a lot to the scripted words coming out of their mouths at carefully staged opportunities, and often seems like the only real thing about them (this is a complete generalisation now, no longer a Hillary-bashing ;-p). Any politician who displays "ignore the man behind the curtain" language gets me wondering...

Dr. Strangelove said...

A friend of mine said once that his political philosophy was simple. "I won't vote for anyone who makes me want to vomit." (Sadly, I have not always followed this advice.)