FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I could be totally off-base with this assertion, but I had a jolt of party-based optimisim as I had my coffee this morning.

It's no secret that the RBC decision to halve the delegations from Michigan and Florida and to fabricate imaginary delegate spreads for Michigan isn't sitting well with Sen. Clinton's supporters.  To us, the RBC is the breathing reincarnate of the 2000 Supreme Court, filled with shrill uncompromising partisans (Scalia/Brazile) and vigorous dissent (Stevens/Ickes).  By association, the blame is also being squarely spread among the DNC, the party at large, and Barack Obama.

It's not a smart move, politically.  We all know Obama has a current lead in pledged delegates that would not be severely compromised by seating those states fully, or by acquiescing to the 73/55 Michigan delegate spread (rather than the much more controversial 69/59, a net of 4 delegates).  

At a time where disunity is reaching a boiling point (see exit polls from Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Kentucky), an appearance of impropriety is the last thing the party needs in its implicit determination to appoint Barack Obama our nominee.  Given that the same result could just as easily be achieved by fully seating Michigan and Florida, why would the party opt for a non-results changing but utterly more divisive solution?

This is when I started thinking.

It was just way too dumb empirically.  

I think the party is setting the stage for Obama to break from the RBC and personally move to seat Michigan and Florida fully.  He will wait until the last primaries conclude and he accrues an insurmountable delegate lead.  The RBC right now absorbs the blame for being a draconian undemocratic rules-authoritarian machine, and by appealing to the humanity in all Democrats, Obama has an opportunity to reframe the conjugation by separating himself from that machine.  He would be the hero; the RBC would be the villain.

Although wonkish attendants to detail like myself would still be disturbed with the mechanisms he used to defeat Hillary, the greater PR impact for non-rules hacks would not only erase the damage this ruling has done to the Dem electorate, but it might even net him some approval.  It would also remove any taint of illegitimacy the 49 state strategy (48 + 1/2 + 1/2) casts on the nomination process.  

I don't condone Obama's tacit (and in some cases express) opposition to the Florida and Michigan elections.  I don't care for his character or his repeated shunnings of the gay press and GLBT community.  

But if this is the desired outcome (framing the nominee as the hero rather than a complicit culprit), it would at least restore some of my faith in the party's leadership, which based on the RBC ruling, demonstrates an F in political savvy.  This is especially true given that John McCain intends to seat his party's Michigan and Florida delegations 100%, a factoid I'm sure he wouldn't hesitate to remind voters in both states if we don't follow suit.  

And the more I thought about Obama moving to seat Michigan and Florida (well after he reaped the advantages of their exclusion), the more I realized I'd be much more open to voting for him if he would make efforts like these that shows he cares about my vote.  Burying a head in the sand and saying "Oh I don't believe Clinton supporters who say they're disaffected; they'll come around" isn't going to cut it.  

Am I being overly optimistic or is this RBC coup just an indicator of more rules-authoritarian backstabbing yet to come?

Thanks for reading.  

Tags: Florida, Michigan, obama (all tags)



Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

As much as I disagree with what I believe to be your gross mischaracterization of the above events, I assume that the states will be seated in full at the convention.  That would be the case regardless of who the nominee is.

by rfahey22 2008-06-01 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Forgive me.  You would assert then that the 30-member RBC fiat promotes party unity?  Truly?

by BPK80 2008-06-01 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I think they did about as well as they could with what they had to work with.  I have no illusion that this is akin to the 2000 Supreme Court decision or any other grandiose comparison that one could draw.  From where I sit, it's unprecedented and uncalled for to retroactively validate two illegitimate elections, and I'm sure the U.N. would agree with me.

Therefore, I disagree with your background color, but not your final point.

by rfahey22 2008-06-01 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I would contend that the RBC process made the best of an impossible situation.  There was no completely, objectively, fair solution.  They made, I thought, a good show of trying to settle it in the best interests of the party, not in the interests of either candidate.

by rb608 2008-06-01 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

"There was no completely, objectively, fair solution."

Well, there was always the option of sticking with the rules as agreed to by all of the parties last year.

by laird 2008-06-01 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Yeah, there was that option; but I'm confident that nobody wanted to appear to snub a couple of important GE states.  Some other solution was a good idea, methinks.

by rb608 2008-06-01 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I do think you are being overly optimistic, plus I don't see how that would assuage you.

But the most ironic part of what you wrote is that, if Obama does, as you suggest is possible, break from the RBC, that will be yet one more thing he has been forced to break from in order to pursue his dream of becoming president.

One of my biggest beefs with Obama is that he knew damn well that Wright, Pfleger, TUCC, Rezko, etc. would pop up at some point.  Personally I don't consider him necessarily unfit for being president because of those things, but he must have thought he would be immune to the Rethugs going after him in a general election.  His hubris and his ego will cost us the White House.  

Listen, before people start piling on me about how unfair that is to Obama... Not everyone can run for prez; I'm an atheist so I don't have a chance in (ahem) hell.  Is that fair?  No.  But it's reality.

by Montague 2008-06-01 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Honestly, if I say things that are a little conflicted it's just a reflection of how I feel.  I really am conflicted.  On one hand I really really dislike the unfairness of this primary and dislike what I perceive to be unquestioned "schmoozing" by Barack Obama of the electorate.  On the other hand, I can't forget my roots and the reasons that made me a Democrat in the first place (policy reasons).  I love the principles and hate the personnel.  Maybe I'm just looking for a way to reconcile the two competing principles for my future political identification.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I hear you.  I can understand your conflicted feelings since I have them, too.  Good for you for trying to reconcile.  I've tried that with friends for decades now - socialist friends, Naderites, etc.  I know how it feels.  I'm just tired of backing up crap personnel and might finally sit it out.

by Montague 2008-06-01 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

You sound like a republican. He has been cleared of Rezko and if you weren't so damn insensitive and Sean Hannity like you would understand that Trinity is a very good church.

by sweet potato pie 2008-06-01 08:51AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Oh, get over it.

by Montague 2008-06-01 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Get over what? I should be telling the diarist the same thing.

by sweet potato pie 2008-06-01 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

The "You're a Republican" line has really lost its sting from overuse.  I know my voting history.  I know what I believe in.  

I don't know what you're talking about when you bring up Trinity.  I thought it was sad when Barack Obama threw Wright under a bus.  Clearly you have no idea that I've been a Civil Rights Advocate and a Critical Race Feminist for the balance of my adult life.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Ah yes the "feminist" vote aka the angry white woman vote who didn't give a damn about blacks during the "feminist" movement voter. You are the typical Harriet Christian who screams how dare an inadequate black man "steal" the nomination from your girl.

by sweet potato pie 2008-06-01 03:11PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Yeah, except that's totally not what a Critical Race Feminist is.  Please feel free to resume your delusions about my beliefs on race.  

by BPK80 2008-06-02 02:36AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I am continually amazed that Clinton supporters forget how much baggage the Clinton's have.  There is a massive amount of dirt and some is much worse than Wright, Pfelger, Ayers, and Rezko.

It is not being talked about because Obama didn't want to play in the mud but it is still there.  The republicans would not be as kind.  To assume that they wouldn't bring up her dirt is foolish.

The argument that some of her dirt isn't true and she has been vetted also doesn't hold water.  John Kerry got taken down because he got a purple heart in brave service. No one is immune.

by CAchemist 2008-06-01 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

difference between Kerry & the Clinton's is that outside of MA, no one heard of the swiftboaters.  Here in MA, we know them - they come crawling out of the woodwork everytime he runs

The Clinton's dirt has been played out.  And the majority of the American public discounted it.  If the republicans tried it again, which I am sure they would, most people would just ignore it.

the boy who cried wolf comes to mind

by colebiancardi 2008-06-01 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I am not sure what the "boy who cried wold comes to mind" means so I will skip that part.

As for the rest, my point was that we should not choose our candidate based on how mean the republicans are going to be to them.  They would try to destroy Obama or Clinton.  Both have dirt for them to use so it becomes moot.

by CAchemist 2008-06-01 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

"The boy who cried wolf"  - you know that story right?  The republicans have cried "wolf" on the Clintons for almost 2 decades now.  It is meaningless to most people.

by colebiancardi 2008-06-01 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I know the story just not how it applied to our conversation.  

The republicans have been throwing the same dirt for two decades which means that people who have been paying attention for two decades can ignore the tactics.  But lots of people don't pay attention and some are new voters.

I am 26 and when Clinton won in 1992 I was 11.  I know all the dirt because I am politically astute.  My friends know about Monica. Thats it.  Everything else will be new to them.  I imagine that is true for many people between the ages of 18-30.

That does not mean we shouldn't pick HRC.  If she were the nominee, we would just have to figure out how to combat the lies.  Just as we will need to combat Obama's dirt.

by CAchemist 2008-06-01 10:16AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

It's not new.  These are largely financial "scandals" that are putatively expected to come with the territory of high stakes politics.  

Effective scandals are a lot more personal in nature.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

"The boy who cried wolf" is an Aesop fable about a shepherd boy who would cry out "wolf" whenever he was bored to see the villagers scramble to try and help him save his flock.  After a while though the villagers stopped believing him so when a wolf did finally appear, he cried and no one came.  The moral being that even when liars tell the truth they won't be believed.

by matchles 2008-06-01 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

We are not in disagreement about the fact that the Rethugs will use/manufacture any dirt they can and that no one is immune. You are correct about that.

I am amazed that Obama supporters fail to understand the difference between the really old baggage of the Clintons and the fresh new stuff from the Obamas.  The old stuff is old, it's boring, bye-bye, who gives a shit anymore.  Yes yes yes the Rethugs will try to find new shit if Hillary is our nominee.  But Obama... oooo, it's ALL new to the MSM and the electorate.  New and exciting.  Doesn't matter if it holds water.  It's fresh.

Also, as for any dirt on the Clintons being much worse than Obama's list... nuh-uh.  Both are politicians, both are insiders, both have some questionable dealings.  The real point is that Wright, Pfleger and Ayers will be enough for some people to not vote for Obama.  Why do you think people voted for Bush over Kerry?  Because Kerry was made to appear un-American, given his interactions with anti-war protestors.  Wright and Pfleger - they also appear un-American to a lot of voters.  That fact that Obama has actually left his church of 20 years and disavowed his former mentor and also Pfleger is enough to show the Rethugs that it will work.

by Montague 2008-06-01 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

We should agree to disagree.

by CAchemist 2008-06-01 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

It's true.  People don't care about Whitewater or the Cher concert, just as they don't really care about Rezko or Nadmhi Auchi.  The financial scandals don't stick unless there's a major humanitarian violation (Enron).  

Effective scandals are easier to digest and more personal in nature.  Trinity Church is a lot more visceral than questionable transfers of property.

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I'm an atheist, too, so a LOT of what religious leaders say sounds loopy (angry, judgmental, intolerant, and on and on...) to me. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that usually the electorate tends to look past candidates' religious leaders because any one of them can sound crazy if you take them out of the context of their churches, and also, people's spiritual/religious beliefs are personal and are not usually open for public plundering.

I think Sen. Obama thought he would be treated like everyone else in that area, but he was wrong about that. Sometimes, I think he gives us credit for being better people than we actually are.

Of course, it is having the unexpected benefit of the Republican candidate now having to distance himself from religious leaders as well, which is really bad news for Sen. McCain because his relationship with the evangelicals in his own party is already a weak one.

by Liberal Monk 2008-06-01 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

On This Week this morning George asked Roosevelt and Dean if they thought Obama would seat them in full at the convention and they said that was his prerogative and I got the impression they approved of that. So I think it will happen.

by Becky G 2008-06-01 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Well, on Russert's show Carl Levin claimed that he had received "guarantees" from both candidates that that would in fact be the case, so the diarist is correct.

by rfahey22 2008-06-01 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation


My main inquiry was more on the issue of whether the RBC ruling was designed to frame the situation such that Obama can appear heroic and magnanimous.  

A press conference where he seats the full delegations and is seen as "rescuing" the party from the draconian (in the eyes of HRC supporters) Rules Committee would actually be effective PR in my opinion.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:36PM | 0 recs
You are damn bitter

Interesting that he has spoken with the gay press and interesting how a prominent gay publication withdrew their endorsement of Hillary. I think you are a log cabin republican who wants to pretend like you are a democrat. You guys have plenty of issues so your anger towards Barack is not surprising.

by sweet potato pie 2008-06-01 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: You are damn bitter

Hide rated for violating the site's rules.  Get educated.  Learn about MyDD.  Thanks.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I hate these sort of polls that in their choices give us added commments that make it impossible for me to choose either..

I think it likely that Obama will make a gesture to seat the states fully -- but I don't think this has anything to do with the RBC's motivations, and as such, I don't think the RBC decision "brilliant" as such.

I believe the RBC was motivated more by the feel for the need for compromise -- though Hillary supporters keep suggesting that a proper compromise solution would be surrendering everything to Hillary, and though I actually agree that such may have been the most wise choice. (Defeating them via surrender -- Jean-Luc Picard anyone?)

However, I can neither be sure nor can you assure me that in such a case, Hillary wouldn't have seen such a move as evidence that the RBC was scared of her. Nobody can be sure that Hillary would not have seen it as a sign of weakness rather than of strength. And nobody would be sure whether it'd have encouraged rather than reconciled the dead-enders.

Nothing is certain, not even in hindsight.

by Aris Katsaris 2008-06-01 08:59AM | 0 recs

If I say, "Give me all of your money" and you say, "No I am not giving you a dime," is an edict forcing you to give me half of your funds a fair "compromise"?

Not at all.  Obama set the goal posts wildly in his favor and Hillary's team made the mistake of asking for what it was they really wanted.  Hillary should have moved to strip Obama of his Florida delegates for "campaigning" and to have the RBC substitute the Washington, Nebraska, Idaho, and Texas primaries entirely for their caucuses in determining delegate allocation.  

Her team wasn't strident or ridiculous enough in their demands to get a fair outcome.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:43PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

"I think the party is setting the stage for Obama to break from the RBC and personally move to seat Michigan and Florida fully."

As an Obama supporter, I've acually had the same thoughts.  I hope that he does.

by Purple with Green Stipes and Pink Polka Dots Dem 2008-06-01 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

As soon as he has the nomination I guarantee that he will seat both delegations.  Everyone also has to realize that not many "real" people care about the fl/mi delegations.  I am a volunteer here in Missouri and have spent countless weekends working for Obama and have yet to hear anyone talk about FL/MI.  People here care more about whether he is a Muslim or not than any perceived hurt feelings by a select group of Florida and Michigan voters.  

Once again, I am not saying it is cool the way things turned out with FL/MI, but a lot of us need to realize that the general population cares more about the economy, the war, and how they are going to pay for their healthcare than whether a group of delegates get sent to a convention.  

by Xris 2008-06-01 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

With all respect, this issue isn't expected to have a very pronounced effect in Missouri.  It's a fairly cognizable concern for Florida and Michigan voters though.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

While it's possible Obama will do this if he's certain it won't affect the outcome, I don't think it would be the right thing to do, and it would just be his attempt to accomidate a certain kind of stubbornness.

It would be one thing if the FL and MI elections had simply occurred before the window set out by the RBC.  That was the situation anticipated by the rules which, had it occurred, would have merited a 50% penalty (as happened in the Republican primaries).

What happened in the Democratic race, though, was this business of the RBC's declaring that these elections wouldn't count, candidates couldn't campaign, and most took their names off the ballot.  Nothing like this occurred on the Republican side, and this did change the issue.

Historically, many disenfranchisement strategies are simply based upon people making sure that their voters can get to the polls and those who support other candidates can't or won't.

Eg., fliers sent out to inform voters that the election will be held a week later than will actually be the case.  Literacy tests.  Caging.  This is all stuff people did during Jim Crow (and to some extent it still goes on).

And in every situation like this, the winners will argue that the election was good enough because enough people turned out to vote.  The ballots cast by actual voters have to be respected.

There is no way to correct an election where voters were told in advance that the results wouldn't count.  All one can do is choose from among several bad fixes.

And while it's completely obvious this particular situation wasn't caused by either of the campaigns (that's where the analogy to Jim Crow ends), the slogan "we have to count every vote" is one which just ignores how deep the problems were with these two elections.

The accusation that Donna Brazille simply acted as a "shrill partisan", besides being arguably sexist, is unfair.  One of the more interesting moments in the meeting yesterday occurred when she said words to this effect: don't lecture me about what the word disenfranchisment means.

Because one could just tell she was totally prepared to go into the long and sad history of this (the history of disenfranchisment during Jim Crow usually turned on counting every vote cast, what made these elections deeply immoral were the lengths people went to to ensure that black voters wouldn't, or couldn't, show up at the polls).

It occurs to me there's a possible cultural difference here.  To many, the term disenfranchisement is rooted in not having the right to vote.  That's only half of the story (and in the modern world when voters are disenfranchised it's usually in this second way).

So no, I don't think the Dems should seat FL and MI in full (esp. if Clinton's campaign isn't willing to give full weight to the importance of these other considerations, right now their strategy seems based upon denying that they exist, that's not something the RBC should concede--it would require affirming something that's wrong).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-06-01 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

"it would just be his attempt to accomidate a certain kind of stubbornness."

Correct me if I'm wrong but are you saying that Barack Obama should not attempt to mollify, out of principle, adverse voters in Michigan, Florida, and among Hillary's base?  

Just to clarify, it's not clear that the electorate believed their votes would not matter.  The message was mixed with encouragement to vote, encouragement to vote Uncommitted for Obama, etc.  Turnout in Florida suggests that rumors of the election not meaning anything had been greatly exaggerated.  In Michigan, the GOP primary was seen as much more dispositive and a Dem-mirror image of Operation Chaos was promoted.  

No rule required Barack Obama to remove his name from the ballot and I find it hard to swallow that it was done out of principle rather than out of political self-interest.  It was a state he was widely expected to lose and it benefitted him greatly to sabatoge the election.  The reason the voter's will in Michigan is so difficult to determine is, as you note, not because of the date of the primary but because of the absence of names from the ballot.  His free and voluntary strategic decision undermined the election so much in Michigan that his supporters claim the results are so irreparably tainted that they should not count.  

Although the debacle was entirely of his own making (and fellow candidates), he more than had his cake and ate it.  He averted an early momentum crushing loss.  He sold his anti-Michigan message in Iowa and won Iowa.  And now he's been given dozens of "free" delegates in Michigan for the hell of it.  It's as though the powers that be created another cake for him out of thin air for him to eat in addition to the one that he already ate, but still has.  :-P

If Obama makes an effort to court my vote, he has a shot.  But I'll never buy the spin that his maneuvers re: Michigan were remotely honorable.

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I believe the reason why the four delegates were an issue had to do with the framing of the popular vote in Michigan.  That is, by making this decision, it became clear that the popular vote was perceived as being illegitimate by the Committee.

by StrangeAnomaly 2008-06-01 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

Very plausible.

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:46PM | 0 recs
According thito s FAQ's page, that was the plan...

all along.

"Although the DNC has said it will not recognize delegates from Florida, the Party plans to appeal to the eventual Democratic nominee for President to be seated at the Convention."

http://www.makeitcountflorida.com/page/c ontent/makeitcount-faqs/

by Liberal Monk 2008-06-01 10:43AM | 0 recs
Oops, should be "to this..." eom

by Liberal Monk 2008-06-01 11:37AM | 0 recs

Thanks for the link.

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

he has not "shunned" the gay press, he mentions the LGBT community in every stump speech. This gay man is a proud supporter of Senator Obama.(I otherwise enjoyed your diary)

by feliks 2008-06-01 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: FL/MI: I Had a Revelation

I heard him mention sexual orientation in Indiana and never before then.  He's had wildly homophobic speakers and did shun the gay press as far as I know as of March/April 2008.  

Thank you for the kind comments though.  

by BPK80 2008-06-01 12:48PM | 0 recs


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