On Going After Pledged Delegates

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 Clinton’s 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 everybody’s 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.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Roger Simon (all tags)

Comments

35 Comments

Politico.com

Politico is pro-Obama. I can't figure out if it's run by liberals or Republicans who want Obama to win the nomination. I've tried complaining via e-mail but their e-mail response system is broken. I wonder why.

"And to the republic, for which it stands..."

Republic, not democracy!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-02-19 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Politico.com

Politico is owned by Republicans.

by annefrank 2008-02-19 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Politico.com

That's not surprising....

by Sleepless in Virginia 2008-02-19 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

You miss the point of the system.  The point is for us to have trust in each other and follow through on a pledge.  For Clinton to try and undermine that is to align her with the likes of Bush/Rove.  The system works fine so long as there is no power-hungry madwoman willing to destroy the party to satisfy her ego.  She is at this point, threatening her Senatorial career with these type of actions.

by Todd Bennett 2008-02-19 10:37AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

What type of actions?

Surely, Obama isn't pressuring members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Surely not!
;>

by annefrank 2008-02-19 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

From what I have read, Obama isn't pressuring anybody, BUT there are several black Clinton superdelgates whose districts went overwhelmingly (+80%) for Obama. Those folks are pressuring the superdelegates to go for Obama.

Now this can turn into the battle of catchphrases if you want, but if folks 'want the voters of Florida and Michigan to be heard', then we should also respect voters in precincts where the superdelegates  pledged one candidate, but the voters voted for the other one.
I GUARANTEE you that Obama wins this thing if that happens.
That would mean that virtually all of the CBC goes toward Obama, and a great many other superdelgates in regions toward the middle of the country as well. Remember, at this point, Obama is leading in the popular and the delegate count. In order to win at the delegate level, he has won at the district level.

Interestingly though, you haven't heard the Obama camp make this claim, yet. But we have heard about Hillary scavenging for delegates.

by xodus1914 2008-02-19 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

I went to the Congressional Black Caucus conference and, while I didn't see any pressuring going on, I did see a lot of work being done by Obama volunteers. Although Hillary had her share of supporters among the conference goers, Obama had a platoon of volunteers with clipboards taking names and handing out stickers. I didn't see a single Hillary volunteer away from her table.

What leverage does Barack have to pressure CBC members with that Hillary doesn't have? I've been at several events now where Barack had many volunteers and Hillary had none. His support in the CBC and elsewhere comes from hard work, not behind the scenes wrangling.

by davefordemocracy 2008-02-19 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates
i call bs. i know it feels better to think he isn't "manipulating" the system. good thing we have super delegates who know that lipstick cant disguise a pig.
these are two strong campaigns who REALLY, REALLY want to win. at any cost. (currently +70mm and, increasingly, the general).
by hctb 2008-02-19 03:06PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Campaigns choose the delegates and the spots always go to the most ardent supporters.

That said, the same holds true for electors, and faithless electors have enver affected the outcome of a presidential election.

by Walt Starr 2008-02-19 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Roger Simon is an ass .

He must have been smoking something when he wrote the headline.

I know a lot of folks like him , weed smoking fornicators.

lol

by lori 2008-02-19 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Thank you for saying so. I've become so fed up with the CDS that I'm beginning to believe that I don't live in the USA. The media , for so  long, has believed that it can dictate not only what the candidates do and say but ignore the real issues and facts. There is definately a media perversion with Hillary's campaign but it's even becoming more pronounced in the blogs as well. My only hope is that the public comes to realize that the media is unworthy of it's platform. Thanks again  for speaking out.

by fillphil 2008-02-19 10:43AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Stop what?  You support an evil, vile, despicable scumpaign.  Some of us are trying to save our party.  And I do not use that word, it is a destructive word, but if I wanted to support a psychotic narcissist I wouldhave backed Giuliani.  Are we clear?

by Todd Bennett 2008-02-19 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Uprated to counter the troll rate on what is obviously snark.

by Walt Starr 2008-02-19 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

"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."

I seem to recall something about this from Carter's reelection campaign in 1980.  Sensing he was losing momentum to Kennedy, President Carter began lobbying for a rule change to formally bind the pledged delegates to their constituents' choice.  Didn't go anywhere then, either...

by jarhead5536 2008-02-19 10:47AM | 0 recs
What is this BS?

from your sig line:

Hillary Clinton will personally precipitate the Apocalypse...

by kevin22262 2008-02-19 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: What is this BS?

Um, it's snark.  Wow, what did you think it was, based on what I have posted?

by jarhead5536 2008-02-19 11:05AM | 0 recs
No

I want to know why you have it on your sig line?

by kevin22262 2008-02-19 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: No

Because I have a sick sense of humor.  My sig line on DailyKos is "Defend marriage.  Make divorce illegal."  Some people don't get the irony in that either...

by jarhead5536 2008-02-19 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

It's actually a very good idea. Pledged delegates are selected by the campaigns to which they are pledged, so they are the most ardent of supporters.

But allowing pledged delegates to have free will gives them the ability to overturn the primaries if something horrible happens.

Nobody likes to think about what happened to a front running candidate in 1968, but if pledged delegates did not have the latitude to alter their vote from their pledge, there could be no nominee in the event of a catastrophic occurrence.

IT further allows the the latitude to alter the outcome should a terrible scandal be revealed.

by Walt Starr 2008-02-19 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Hey Walt,
I want to correct you on your statement that the campaigns choose their delegates. The campaigns do not choose their delegates.

I ran to be a  delegate pledged to Howard Dean in 2003/2004 and the Dean campaign didn't have the resources to set foot in California except for fundraisers. There's no way they could have picked the delegates in every congressional district in CA, let alone all 50 states.

I'm sure it's different in every state, but the way it worked was a Dean supporter in the district convened a meeting where every registered Democrat was eligible to come in and vote for the Dean delegate. The winners (not me) were the ones who got the most people to show up and vote.

Your general point that they are the most ardent supporters is probably true On the other hand, the party regulars are the ones who know how to win these things and I would argue that they're the most susceptible to arm-twisting.  

by davefordemocracy 2008-02-19 12:13PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates
Interestingly enough, Obama would crush Hillary if superdelgates  had to go the same  route of their constituents. You don't believe me? Ask half of the Congressional Black Caucus, like Maxine Waters or John Lewis.
The same goes for white Clinton superdelegates as well, especially those up for reelction!
by xodus1914 2008-02-19 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

this is factually inaccurate. not surprising.

by hctb 2008-02-19 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

I thought they were all the same person.

by fbihop 2008-02-19 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Remove MSNBC from your regular viewing lineup and you will be thankful you did. Tweety is long gone and Olbermann has sunk into Obama land.

by GregNYC 2008-02-19 10:56AM | 0 recs
The blogs

have lost credability on this:

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...

How will any of the blogs be able to refute crap from the right wing when much of what they will be slinging at us was posted by an Obama or Clinton supporter or hater.

Oh what a fucked up blogosphere we live in.   :)

by kevin22262 2008-02-19 10:58AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

A lot of young Obama supporters probably don't know much about what the Cintons faced in the nineties.  They don't know anything about Jeff Gerth or Richard Mellon Scaife or David Bossie.  They can't understand why Bill just couldn't work with Newt the way Barack is going to work with Mitch.  There must just be something terribly evil and wrong with Hillary.  (Roger Simon is another story.  Where have you gone, Media Whores Online?)

by Upstate Dem 2008-02-19 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

I remember this about the nineties. I remember BIll triangulating against the Dems and basically leaving the Dems out to dry. I remember the Dems losing seats in the Senate and the House every two years as the Republican Revolution in 1994 got stronger.
I remember NAFTA.

Yeah, the economy was good.I made a lot of money in the stock market.  But Bill mortgaged the future of the Democratic Party just so he could stay in office.

A Barack Presidency would mean that Democrats can compete in all 50 states again. Which means that maybe, just maybe we could hold on to at least one of the houses for more than just one election cycle. Obama has bought more new voters in than anybody. The Democrats could finally start countering the Republican appeal to Latinos, especially if the Clintons don't play sour grapes  and stay on board.  

I remember all right.  

by xodus1914 2008-02-19 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

The new voters Obama is bringing in expect Obama to unite the country.  They are not necessarily liberals.  They will give him lots of room to make deals.  Obama is already triangulating.  His legislative point man on health care, Jim Cooper, helped kill the Clinton plan.  He's an industry shill.  Ben Nelson is as right wing as a Democrat can get.  He endorsed Obama months ago.  If Obama is elected as a uniter and doesn't start uniting PRONTO the media will bury him, and his own supporters will lose faith.  He'll do what it takes to keep his presidency afloat.

by Upstate Dem 2008-02-19 12:09PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Hey Upstate,
Obama has a more liberal voting record that Hillary Clinton according to the National Journal AND Americans for Democratic Action. League of Conservation Voters scored Obama 100% in 2006 whereas Clinton only got 71%.

If middle of the road Democrats, independents, and Republicans are supporting the most liberal Democrat in the Senate, how is that a bad thing? If the new voters that he brings in aren't dyed in the wool liberals, you don't want them?

It is those voters and that support that are going to beat John McCain and put a Democrat in the White House.

by davefordemocracy 2008-02-19 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates
Anybody beginning to wonder if the Democrats are fit to govern after watching the nominee selection process designed & approved by leaders of the party?
This process is guaranteed to fail unless candidates drop out voluntarily.  Democrats are at each other's throats and an end to this is not in sight because:  
Primary/Caucus
Large states stripped of all delegates
Convoluted allocation of delegates, varies from state to state.
Proportional allocation of delegates rather than winner-take-all
Convention later than usual, after Labor Day-only 2 months to unify before general election.
"Pledged" delegates can change their minds.
796 Superdelegates?
A few delegates have .5 (one/half) vote. Yes, a whole person has half a vote.
Pledged delegate count/Pledged+Superdelegate count/National popular vote/State popular vote/District popular vote
9 wesites have different delegate totals.
by CLK 2008-02-19 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

I can't agree more that the media and pundits are bashing Clinton every chance they get, but give Obama a free pass.  There are tons of examples.  

One is that Clinton said at a rally she offers solutions not speeches, which is well within the bounds of civil debate rules.  Then Obama in a rally said that Clinton was being cynical in trying to put down a movement and not understanding the power of words.  The spin was Clinton was orchestrating personal attacks on Obama.  However, Obama who actually implied that Clinton was not a good person, and no one says a thing about this.

Also the media is saying the campaign has turned ugly. Nonsense.  Clinton has an ad that Obama won't debate her and his health plan doesn't cover 15 million people.  He responds that 18 debates and 2 to go are enough and his health plan covers more people and cost less.  These are legitmate arguments.  This is no where close to nasty, personal, and yes ugly ads.

by edonyoung 2008-02-19 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: A Perfect Example Of Media Frenzy & Hate

Taylor Marsh has this one front-page and it's a doozy.

You know that guy who said Bill Clinton hit him, after he harrassed the former president at a speech? Well, he was interviewed on Sean Hannity, and Joe Scarborough went on and on about how Bill Clinton was killing Hillary's campaign. But, of course, there were WITNESSES TO THE EVENT. And, at least FIVE WITNESSES have said: NEVER HAPPENED.

Here's the real story, as reported in the local newspaper in Canton, Ohio:

http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?ID=39 9982&Category=9&subCategoryID=31

BY ROBERT WANG
REPOSITORY STAFF WRITER

CANTON -- A Canton man's claim that former President Bill Clinton had physical contact with him during a confrontational exchange Sunday has become fodder for the national media.

[...]

Monday morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told his audience, "(Bill Clinton) went after a guy in Ohio. Guy claimed that Bill Clinton actually popped him in the face. It looks (like based on several incidents that) ... Bill Clinton is a bit out of control."

CNN analyst Errol Louis said, "something like this doesn't help that image" of the Clinton campaign, while Fox News Channel hosts Sean Hannity and John Gibson sought to interview Holeman.

But! There's another side to the story, natch:

At least four people, including Randy Feemster, the president of the Timken Co. union local, said the incident as Holeman described never happened. They say Clinton was civil with Holeman, and that Clinton never touched him.

No videos, photographs or eyewitness accounts have emerged corroborating Holeman's story. The Clinton campaign says no physical contact took place, while an Obama spokesman said Holeman has no connection to Obama's campaign.

Wait! NO one has emerged to corroborate Holeman's story? Yet Joe Scarborough has immediately assumed that Bill Clinton is guilty of losing his cool, when all evidence is to the contrary!

Five people said that, after the speech, Holeman shoved and threatened people to get to Clinton. David Westrich, 40, of Akron, said Holeman pushed people into his mother's wheelchair. Holeman denies pushing or threatening anyone and said people tried to prevent him from moving to the front, including a man he says challenged him to a fight outside. He said if he had made threats, the Secret Service wouldn't have let him near Clinton.

"I heard on the news that President Clinton hit this man. He didn't," said Andrea Burns, of Canton, who was angry that the confrontation was taking up time where Clinton could have talked to her and others.

Andrew Hayes, 30, of Canton, said Holeman shoved him and his wife out of the way. He said it made him feel sick that Hannity wanted to interview Holeman.

"He starts talking real aggressively to President Clinton. ... he's like shouting at him. ... President Clinton obviously got a little upset with him. ... I said to the guy ... 'you're ruining this for everyone.' "

Feemster's brother, Rick Feemster, 56, of Canton, who was right next to Clinton, said Holeman rudely accused Clinton of being rude to Obama in South Carolina. He said Clinton challenged him to cite examples, and Holeman could not.

"Former President Clinton was very professional," said Rick Feemster. "He didn't raise his voice to the guy. ... President Clinton kept his cool through the whole thing."

And, it turns out, the guy doesn't even vote!

Holeman said he's not registered to vote because he doesn't want to make his address public and indicated that he's concerned about his safety. He said he was the victim of racist assaults repeatedly when he was a student at several college campuses in the 1980s.

After his interview with The Repository, Holeman, who denied he's seeking attention, ran into a woman he knew.

"Did you see me in the paper? I'm in the paper!" he said.

viewerservices@msnbc.com

Tell Joe Scarborough you demand an apology.

by Tennessean 2008-02-19 11:29AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

Here are the DNC Delegate Selection Rules for 2008

by Sleepless in Virginia 2008-02-19 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

o what's the point of electing delegates at all then?

Todd, how else would you prefer the delegates be selected, other than being elected? Until the 1970s, they weren't generally elected; they were chosen by the state party machines. Thats precisely the reason we have the entire primary system.

I take it what you are really asking is why do we have delegates at all? Or are you asking why delegates are not bound?

The answer to the first is that the Democratic Party is not bound to have delegates. We could let the DNC itself or the party chairman choose the nominee. All that would do is push the big fight back into the selection of DNC members or election of the chair which (the 2005 election of Dean nothwithstanding) are much less democratic processes, much less open to outside input.

Let me give you an example. This Saturday will be the Democratic county conventions in Nevada. They will choose delegates to the state convention in May. Where national convention delegates are chosen. The process is much less transparent and will involve much less participation, than even the Jan 19th caucuses were. The state party requires those who would be candidates to serve as national delegates to declare their intention in writing before the county conventions. But nowhere on the state party site, or any county convention site, is the required form available. Why is that? Because neither of the campaigns nor the party itself want it to be an open process.

So thats what you'ld have, wall to wall, if you had fully pledged delegates. Or if you had no election of delegates. Or if you had no delegates at all.

I agree its an imperfect system but the problem is precisely the institutional inertia against change. You can see how strong it is that Dean, once elected, never for a second considered trying to change the delegate selection guidelines. It was enough of a fight to get a fourth early state to be added and to try to get the other states to respect the Feb 5th deadline.  

by desmoulins 2008-02-19 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: On Going After Pledged Delegates

PS. Just as an added note, I'm a delegate to the county convention. I got a "voter ID" call from the Clinton campaign as I wrote that last message. I was elected by the Obama group at my precinct caucus (Edwards had not achieved viability). Is that an example of them "going after pledged delegates"? OF course note. I told her I was undecided, which is true at this point. She said thanks, good bye. No effort to convince me or even ask if I had any questions about HIllary. (The call was from a call center, not from a local person, which might explain why).

Point being, that none of this is as conspiratorial or as back room as its being made out to be, nor would the reverse -- pledged delegates -- be any more democratic. Its an imperfect system.

Teh solution is more transparency, more participation, and less game-playing. Progressive blogs can and have gone a long way towards educating people like me, political amateurs, about what is going on, locally and nationally. Lets not throw that away by falling for one campaign's spin or the other. Lets keep up the work of making Democratic party politics more inclusive, more participatory, and more transparent.

by desmoulins 2008-02-19 01:14PM | 0 recs

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