seating of the michigan delegation

Howard Dean gave a great speech yesterday on party unity. Basically, he said that this battle between the Clinton and Obama camps was a good thing for the party, and for the country. He said it was testament to the strength of the candidates that people care as much as they do. And he said it heralded a huge Democratic sweep come November. Toward the end of his statements, he talked about his own run for the Presidency in 2004 and how he had felt betrayed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). He said that he was bitter and angry, until Al Gore called him on the phone and reminded him, “Howard, you know, this isn’t about you, it’s about your country.” If Al, who was clearly robbed of the presidency in 2000 could still see the bigger picture, he reckoned, then he could as well. And clearly, by saying this, Dean was expressing his hope that Clinton would too… Here’s the speech:

[Dean also, you’ll notice, took the opportunity to clear both camps of any of the nastiness we’ve seen these past several months, by declaring that any sexist and racist statements we may have heard were the work of “the media.”]

After giving the speech, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee went into session to decide what needed to be done about Michigan and Florida. The Clinton camp, as you all know, wanted the primary votes in those states to be counted, even though the primaries had been conducted against the wishes of the DNC. (Who said from the onset that, given the fact that they’d jumped forward in line, delegations from those two states would not be seated at the convention.) Clinton’s people made the case that these individuals who had voted for her in good faith needed to have their votes counted. To do otherwise, they said, would be a violation of their rights. Obama’s camp, as you might expect, argued that doing so would be stupid. For one, his name wasn’t even on the ballot in those states. (He’d removed it at the behest of the DNC.) And, second, the DNC had been quite clear at the outset that the delegations from those states would not be seated.

So, yesterday, the DNC decided to play peacemaker. They chose to compromise and seat half the delegates from both states… Here’s a clip from Yahoo News explaining the ramifications of the decision:

…The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama 66 delegates short but still within striking distance after the three final primaries are held in the next three days.

Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including superdelegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including superdelegates, and 56.5 in Florida.

Obama’s total increased to 2,052, and Clinton had 1,877.5…

Unfortunately for Clinton, this doesn’t give her the boost she would have needed to take on Obama at the convention. So, barring any more weird twists and turns, it looks as though Obama will be our party’s nominee.

Word on the street is that Obama had the votes necessary in the Rules and Bylaws Committee to push for an even more favorable decision on Michigan and Florida, but he chose to be magnanimous about it. (Hopefully that won’t come back to bite him in the ass later on.)

You’d think that Clinton supporters might be happy about the compromise, given the fact that the DNC had said from the start that NO delegates would be seated from Michigan and Florida, but many of them aren’t. Some even came away from the session yelling about how they now intended to vote for McCain.

I’ve said it here before, but I hold stalwart Clinton supporters Debbie Dingell and Carl Levin responsible for what happened here in Michigan. By moving the Michigan primary up, in violation of the DNC rules, they made our votes, and the concerns of our state, absolutely meaningless. The candidates did not come here and spend time with us. They did not have an opportunity to hear about our very real and legitimate concerns. Dingell and Levin, through their actions, made us completely irrelevant, and I cannot forgive them for that. I’ll likely vote for Levin again, as I think he does a fairly good job otherwise (except for little things like not cutting off funding for the war, or lifting a linger to bring Bush up on charges of impeachment), but I don’t see any reason to support Debbie Dingell when she runs for the seat of her husband, as she clearly will.

As for primaries, and the order in which they’re held, I agree that Iowa and New Hampshire should not always go first. I don’t know how such a thing would be put in place, but I’m sure there’s got to be a way to hold a national lottery every four years that dictates the order. The issues confronted by the people of Iowa and New Hampshire, while legitimate and serious, are not the issues, by and large, being faced by those of us in the Great Lakes region, and they shouldn’t always be at the forefront of the national debate. Just like everyone else, we deserve our opportunity to lead the debate.

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  1. mark
    Posted June 1, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Not a single damned comment?

  2. Posted June 2, 2008 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Okay, I’ll take the bait.

    ” . . . this battle between the Clinton and Obama camps was a good thing for the party, and for the country . . .” Right, in the same way that greenhouse gas emissions are “fertilizer” for plants.

    I watched some of the actual meeting on TV, but some of it was so irksome and disingenuous, I had to turn it off to keep my blood pressure under control. Blanchard’s unending crapola about “honoring those who voted” was particularly sleazy, as he didn’t seem to give a crap about honoring those who didn’t vote. Let me get this right: we’re all told ahead of time by the DNC that our votes won’t count by the governing body of our party. Thousands don’t vote, and thousands more cross over and vote in the Republican primary. Now we’re told we were supposed to anticipated that our party leadership was bullshitting us. Hmmmm. Good for the party?

    Then there’s that gnarly little issue of the pledge Clinton broke:

    “THEREFORE, I (Hillary Clinton), Democratic Candidate for President, in honor and in accordance with DNC rules, pledge to actively campaign in the pre-approved early states Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. I pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any election contest occurring in any state not already authorized by the DNC to take place in the DNC approved pre-window (any date prior to February 5, 2008).”

    Clinton keeps ignoring the fact that her pledge stated she wouldn’t do both: participate or campaign. Now, though, having kept her name on the ballot, she wants to be retroactively deemed to have participated despite the fact that every other top tier Democrat took their name off the ballot, actually honoring the same pledge. Good for the party? I can’t wait to see how well the rules are followed next time, can you?

    My big question: Why aren’t Democrats statewide pushing for Brewer’s head?

  3. Posted June 2, 2008 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how such a thing would be put in place, but I’m sure there’s got to be a way to hold a national lottery every four years that dictates the order.

    I’m guessing the way that it gets put in place is via a giant cluster**** where a couple of States jump the queue and end up embroiled in a 6-month-long civil war in the party that is “resolved” in the end with everybody still unhappy, demonstrating just how broken the system is.

    Or, you know, maybe we all just sit back, follow the rules, and wait for Iowa to agree that, hey, you know, we’re right, and maybe we should try something different.

    I’m not saying I’m *happy* about the outcome of the Michigan primary, just pointing out that this mess is/was necessary (though perhaps not sufficient) for the kind of changes you’re hoping for.

  4. Terry
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    How about considering the complaints of Mich Dems going way back and get repeatedly ignored. We get tired of having our favorite candidate eliminated by some punny, non Democratic state. The UAW has been leading this fight, to give labor a greater decisive influence in how the Dem nominee gets selected. We should not give Mark Brewer a thorn but a rose.

  5. Oliva
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Well, not a high-falutin’ comment here, but to think that Harold Ickes father was a great man and great Democrat. The son, not so impressive, less so over time. Did you see the power play match between him and Wexler at the Rules committee meeting? You just know that to Ickes this is all a strategy/power game and that he doesn’t really believe what he’s saying.

  6. Former Clinton Fan
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Of course it’s about power.

    Check out this quote.

    “It’s clear, this election they’re having is not going to count for anything.”

    — Sen. Hillary Clinton, on New Hampshire Public Radio, dismissing the Jan. 15 Michigan presidential primary


  7. Bob Jenkins
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I have to laugh when I hear Hillary Clinton describe herself as “a fighter”.

    I worked with Hillary when she was a college student. She was volunteering for the summer and I was in Los Angeles on sabbatical, volunteering in a local race myself. Early in the campaign, we met in the evenings at a diner that was only open for lunch. This diner had an employee, Nattie, who cleaned the place every afternoon. She was usually gone by the time we got there, but sometimes not. Nattie was a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon. She was quick with the insult or sneer, and seemed to take infinite pleasure getting under people’s skin. Deep down I’m sure she was a good person, but on the surface, boy, she was just caustic without apology.

    Usually I would arrive first and Nattie would have to unlock the door to let me in. If she wasn’t finished with the floors she’d make me sit outside until she was. One day I was later than usual and apparently Hillary got there first. Hillary was energetic and goal oriented; all business. She didn’t have time for Nattie’s foolishness. The two accounts of what happened next lined up pretty well aside from who threw the first punch. Nattie was finishing up the floors and Hillary was not interested in waiting. Somehow she made a big enough nuisance of herself that Nattie opened the door, but wouldn’t let Hillary pass. The brief argument turned into a shove which turned into a brawl right there in the doorway.

    When I came around the corner, the fight was pretty much over. Nattie was flat on her back. I saw her trying to lift her arms up to protect herself, but she had no strength left. Hillary was straddling her and a complete mess herself. Nattie had clearly gotten a few good punches in before she went down. As I rushed forward, Hillary easily pushed Nattie’s arms aside in order to finish her off with a brutal shot straight to the face.

    Donavan Leitch (the 60’s pop star known as “Donovan”) arrived at the same time I did. We were meeting with him to talk about doing a benefit concert for us. Donovan and I got both women inside and cleaned them up as best we could. I took Nattie home where she stayed for at least several weeks. We moved the campaign headquarters before she recovered enough to return to work. Despite their blood soaked introduction, Donovan and Hillary really hit it off and became quite an item that summer. They were distractingly affectionate, in fact, at times.

    But yes, she is a fighter. There is no doubt in my mind.

  8. Suzie
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    >Not a single damned comment?

    I guess I feel like the travesty already happened, when the vote went forward with only a random sampling of candidates on the ballot, and with voters being told their votes wouldn’t count. Any news on this subject, other than news of a re-do, makes me feel tired & depressed.

    It was not a valid vote. Not in Michigan, though maybe in Florida where at least it was a complete ballot. So– so *what* if they decide to count the invalid vote, or not count it, or count it halfway? It’s clear we were screwed, regardless.

  9. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    So, who is surrounded by the confederacy of dunces in this election?

  10. mark
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    You may be right, of course, Murph. This whole stupid mess might bring around the change that we’ve all been passively hoping for these past several decades. And I don’t think I’d be pissed about it, if it ended there. What really irritates me, however, is this insistence on the part of Clinton, Granholm and Debbie Dingell that the votes cast here in Michigan should count. They know it’s a ridiculous, unethical grab for power, and they should be ashamed. But, yeah, if that wasn’t part of the equation, I might be OK with the decision to jump in line. It just so happens that this was a critically important year, and I’m pissed that they fucked it up. I know there must have been a better way… What about getting the Great Lake states to boycott? Might that have worked? Shouldn’t we have at least tried it.

  11. mark
    Posted June 2, 2008 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    And that’s a good questions TG – why aren’t Dems calling for Brewer’s head? I can appreciate Terry’s point of view, but, regardless of the impetus behind it, you nave to agree that this was poorly managed from start to finish.

  12. Robert
    Posted June 5, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I don’t remember too many people here saying they disapproved of moving Michigan’s primary up to January 15th. I guess if everyone is now just looking for a scape goat, Brewer would be as good a choice as any.

  13. mark
    Posted June 5, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Like I’ve said elsewhere on the site multiple times, my problem isn’t so much that the moved the primary up – it’s that, after the fact, they demanded the delegates be seated. That’s where they lost me.

  14. Robert
    Posted June 17, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    That’s the difference between a half-ass attempt to fix an election and a full-ass attempt. I’m not a big fan of either.

  15. mark
    Posted June 17, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, if you’re suggesting that the initial move was in order to help Hillary, giving her a big union state win early in the process. I was giving our state Dems the benefit of the doubt, though, just assuming that they were doing what they felt was best for the state… Naive?

  16. Robert
    Posted June 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    “I was giving our state Dems the benefit of the doubt, though, just assuming that they were doing what they felt was best for the state”

    Hahahaha! I love you, Mark. I can’t wait for your inevitable run for Ypsi mayor or state rep for your district. Don’t think I haven’t noticed your slow transformation over the past several years into Mark Maynard the candidate. (You’re saying ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ a lot less)

    In all seriousness, I do think they thought what was best for the state was to front load the election for Hillary.

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