On Going After Pledged Delegates
by Todd Beeton, Tue Feb 19, 2008 at 10:30:03 AM EST
As someone who has succumbed neither to Clinton Derangement Syndrome nor to Obamania, I sit aghast at the campaign against the Clintons that is being waged both in the media and the blogosphere. Just yesterday I watched as Hardball spent nearly 15 minutes ripping on Bill Clinton, calling him a distraction for shouting down a pro-life heckler and getting into a heated discussion with an Obama supporter on the rope line at an event. What they failed to acknowledge, of course, was that he wouldn't be a distraction if they didn't report on the sideshow aspects of his appearances rather than the actual content; what they failed to mention was the huge applause Bill got after shouting down the pro-life protester and indeed the general excitement he generates at all the events he headlines; and what they failed to state plainly was what a jackass the Obama supporter who Bill spent some time getting into it with revealed himself to be in NBC News's own video, even claiming that he "thinks" Bill Clinton hit him in the face during the exchange. It doesn't change the fact that I agree it probably wasn't wise for Bill to engage with him, but the willingness of the media to report on Clinton in this way and then claim he's a distraction that's hurting Hillary is truly amazing to me.
Although, perhaps it really shouldn't amaze me at all as it has echoes of the take down of Gore in 2000 when the media jumped on the "he's a serial exaggerator" meme with just as much gusto. Wasn't it one of the blogosphere's original mandates to be a message machine to push back against such rushes to judgment against Democrats? This year, sadly, some elements of the blogosphere have spent time and energy simply to pile on. But I digress...
The latest "mainstream media" attack on Hillary Clinton has come care of Roger Simon at The Politico, who states with utter alarm, he's very concerned you see, that, as the headline blares:
Clinton targets pledged delegates
And as the first graf warns:
Hillary Clintons presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.
When really, the entire article was based on this quote:
I swear it is not happening now, but as we get closer to the convention, if it is a stalemate, everybody will be going after everybodys delegates, a senior Clinton official told me Monday afternoon. All the rules will be going out the window. [...]
Clinton spokesman Phil Singer told me Monday he assumes the Obama campaign is going after delegates pledged to Clinton, though a senior Obama aide told me he knew of no such strategy.
But when asked straight up if they had such a strategy, both campaigns pledged they did not and would not. But in the meantime, more "Clintons will do anything to win" damage was done, thanks in part, it should be noted, to "a high-ranking Clinton official."
I agree with The Economist's Democracy In America that it was, to say the least, "not the smartest thing to say," but the real revelation from the article is why the suggestion didn't seem out of the realm of possibility from the perspective of either campaign: that it would be perfectly legal. As Simon notes:
Pledged delegates are not really pledged at all, not even on the first ballot. This has been an open secret in the party for years, but it has never really mattered because there has almost always been a clear victor by the time the convention convened.
But not this time. This time, one candidate may enter the convention leading by just a few pledged delegates, and those delegates may find themselves being promised the sun, moon and stars to switch sides.
Delegates are NOT bound to vote for the candidate they are pledged to at the convention or on the first ballot, a recent DNC memo states. A delegate goes to the convention with a signed pledge of support for a particular presidential candidate. At the convention, while it is assumed that the delegate will cast their vote for the candidate they are publicly pledged to, it is not required.
Umm, so what's the point of electing delegates at all then? I mean, it's amazing to me that contained within all these stories about how the Clinton campaign will do anything to win and how the Clinton campaign is slow to the game with how the Texas system works, is the eye-opening (and at times jaw-dropping) revelation of just how messed up and undemocratic this whole delegate allocation system actually is.