"Craven and Narcissistic"
by Drummond, Tue Jan 29, 2008 at 08:21:57 PM EST
Simon Rosenberg of NDN (I have no idea what it stands for as they left the explanation out of their page "about NDN") has some pretty harsh words about Hillary Clinton's opportunistic grandstanding in Florida - a game she clearly would not have played but for her immediate necessity.
Like many I wish the Democratic Party could have found a way to let the votes of the people of Michigan and Florida be counted. Unfortunately the rules were the rules, all the candidates agreed to them, and - for the most part - have stuck by them.
So what exactly is Hillary doing by going to Florida to declare victory, pushing her way into whatever is the big Republican story tonight? Somehow given the events of the last few weeks this move just feels wrongly timed. Too many questions are being raised about the Clinton's integrity, their willingness to do whatever it takes to win, even sacrificing long held values and beliefs in the process.
Having worked on the New Hampshire primary and in the War Room in 1992 for the Clintons, I was present at the creation of the famous "rapid response" campaign style and fierce fighting spirit of the Clinton era. In the very first meeting of the famous War Room James Carville warned us "that if you don't like to eat sh-- everyday you shouldn't be in politics." So I understand as well as anyone that this is a tough game, not for the faint of heart.
But there is a line in politics where tough and determined becomes craven and narcissistic, where advocacy becomes spin, and where integrity and principle is lost. I am concerned that this Florida gambit by the Clinton campaign is once again putting two of my political heroes too close - or perhaps over - that line. So that even if they win this incredible battle with Barack Obama they will end up doing so in a way that will make it hard for them to bring the Party back together, and to lead the nation to a new and better day.
Now maybe she didn't mean to promise not to campaign in Florida, and I guess in the most technical sense she didn't. But her insistence that "we need to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates" comes completely without any comment on the situation which brought the party to this point. Sure, the mostly white and relatively conservative states are protecting their privileged January spots and feel a sense of entitlement to their power to decide whom the rest of us get to vote for. But it's more than that. The primary season gets earlier every time. Pretty soon we'll be holding December primaries. Then November. And every state will be jockeying for the front positions sans some kind of central directive.
Did the DNC handle it well? No. But Clinton took a position with the DNC, and basically reneged on it. And now, without addressing the underlying issue, she simply says the obvious "the delegates should be seated." Of course she wants that. They're almost all hers. Seating her delegates is all she cares about now. She offers no solution to the underlying conflict. That's not her concern. If she was to offer a solution it might be in something like rotations of January primaries among the states. But that would piss off Iowa and New Hampshire, and so she prefers the patented Clinton ability to be something for everybody and adequate for nobody except themselves.
She took advantage of the principles of her opponents who have held to their agreement. And many of the Florida voters support her as their savior, because they too don't care about the broader good. They want their delegates seated. Period.
Obviously the Republicans don't care about it and their literal half measure is even more stupid than the DNC's. Some accommodation will have to be made to Michigan and Florida or the Democrats will lose in November. If they make the Republican compromise then the Republicans would have no advantage with the voters unless they caved as well.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping that the voters of Super Tuesday will react to the Florida and Michigan demands, and Hillary's pandering to them, the same way people in a grocery line would react if the manager allowed his girlfriend to cut ahead of them.