Hillary’s big tent
March 1, 2008 1 Comment
No, not her pant suit.
Jesus, you’re horrible. Stop it. That’s just mean and there’s no place for it in intelligent political discussion.
This week the Clinton Campaign launched a new Web site called Delegate Hub to address “The facts and myths about the race for delegates.” It functions mainly as blog to collect articles and clips about the superdelegates that present issues in a Clinton-favorable light.
Here’s the intro statement:
As more voters make their choice for the Democratic nomination, there is growing interest in the facts and myths about the race to reach 2208 delegate votes – the number required for a candidate to secure the nomination with Florida and Michigan included. The Obama campaign is claiming, without precedent or justification, that automatic delegates (commonly referred to as “super delegates”) should switch to Sen. Obama en masse based on arbitrary metrics, with the aim of tilting the delegate balance in his favor. The fact is: no automatic delegate is required to cast a vote on the basis of anything other than his or her best judgment about who is the most qualified to be president.
Did you catch that part about Michigan and Florida? Those are the states whose delegates that Clinton agreed should not count, until she realized she was getting beat pretty much everywhere except the states where her opponent agreed to not campaign in.
One of the first links on the new site is a Slate column in which Christopher Beam reports on some “number crunching” that shows Hillary has actually received 52 percent of the vote among people who identify as Democrats. The post gives some good reasons about why the numbers are a bit hinky, but despite that concludes “Clinton’s lead is still large enough to be significant.”
However, it’s the closing paragraph that disturbs me a little:
It helps you understand why the party gives so much power to its 796 superdelegates. If they didn’t, independents and Republicans could essentially hijack their election. It also makes you wonder whether Clinton should start citing this number, if she maintains her lead through the convention in August. Even if Obama leads in the popular vote and among pledged delegates, it might disturb party gray beards to learn that the nominee has essentially been chosen by outsiders.
While in many ways that is understandable, it is hard to imagine that the Clinton Campaign is actually pushing a message of exclusion. Essentially they say that unless you are a party member, they don’t want you there. The Democratic Party as invite-only.
Even though 48 percent of party members and a whole slew of new people – especially the young (who will probably continue to identify Democrat for much of their lives) – have given the other candidate a lead in every measurable category: states won, delegates won, total delegates (including superdelegates), popular vote and campaign donations.
And though there is little dispute about Hillary’s ability to do the job, it seems that in the best interests of the party, the superdelegates need to welcome those new voters, many of whom are unlikely to support Hillary should she win the nomination (while most of Hillary’s supporters will apparently support Obama).
I mean really, should the “gray beards” really still be making the decisions around here?
It appears the Clintons seem to think so, with their recent Texas strategy of calling in some chits from people they worked with “day and night” on the 1972 campaign for George McGovern, who – and correct me if I’m wrong – got his ASS handed to him by Richard Nixon.
The McGovern campaign was considered a debacle even at the time. In 1972, the country was still mired in an unpopular war and the Clintons and the party establishment were busy rallying around a candidate that was about to get pounded in November.
So the McGovern folks are not the people I would go to for help, but hey, what do I know:
Frank Herrera, a prominent lawyer in Texas, was sitting at home two Saturdays ago when he received a telephone call.
“ ‘We’ve been with you all these years,’ ” Bill Clinton said, according to Mr. Herrera. “ ‘Now the time has come for you to be with us.’ ”
Mr. Herrera, who had up to that point been undecided in the Democratic race, promptly pledged his support to the Clintons. “The don never asks for a second favor when the first one has been rejected,” he said….
Now Mr. Herrera is making phone calls and soliciting friends to support Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton before the Texas primary on Tuesday. At the Clintons’ behest, he postponed a weekend trip so he could appear with Mrs. Clinton at a fund-raiser in San Antonio on Saturday.
Interestingly enough, one of the basic tenets of the McGovern campaign, according to Wikipedia, was that “McGovern succeeded in winning the nomination by winning primaries through grass-roots support in spite of establishment opposition. McGovern had led a commission to redesign the Democratic nomination system after the messy and confused nomination struggle and convention of 1968. The fundamental principle of the McGovern Commission—that the Democratic primaries should determine the winner of the Democratic nomination—lasted throughout every subsequent nomination contest.” Funny, considering what Delegate Hub tells us…
The problem the Clintons are running into, of course, is the same problem they can’t seem to grasp anywhere else in the country either: they are now the Old Guard and reaching back to 1972 does not inspire voters looking for authentic change:
But the younger voters who have turned out in huge numbers for Mr. Obama in other states may have little connection to the old-school Texas networks associated with the Clintons. Loretta Bernard, who hosted backyard barbecues for McGovern volunteers in 1972 and fondly remembers Mrs. Clinton, said her son, Jeremy, is now a superdelegate and fund-raiser for Mr. Obama in California.
Barack Obama, by the way, was 11 in 1972.
Another indication of how poorly run the Clinton campaign has been, especially when compared to the much better organized Obama campaign, is that Corpus Christi is the eighth-largest city in the state with a population of about 300,000 (the metro statistical area is about 427,000, 52 percent Hispanic and has a median income of $33,000 per household so it should be right in the Clinton campaign’s wheelhouse). You’d think the Clinton campaign would have opened an office there before February.
And the Obama campaign has a farther-reaching ground operation, at least in Corpus Christi, Mr. Truan said, where the Clinton campaign office opened only two weeks ago. “I wish I could be more optimistic,” he said. “But I think Obama has a better organization. We’re trying to make up for lost time here.”
But not to worry, luckily, this will probably be one time when Clinton’s “experience” is exactly right for what she’s about to face:
In her memoir, “Living History,” Mrs. Clinton recalled her time spent in Texas as idyllic, an idealistic “rite of political passage.” It was also an introduction to the challenges of campaigning. “We would sit outside at the end of 18- or 20-hour days trying to figure out what else we could do in the face of ever-worsening poll numbers,” she wrote.
So what did they learn the first time around? Retool the message again:
In an e-mail and conference call to reporters, Clinton’s campaign sought to raise the stakes for the Illinois senator in next week’s primaries and also laid the groundwork to keep her campaign alive if the results are disappointing…
“They are outspending us at least two to one inand ,” Wolfson said. “If they are unable to win these states it sends a very clear signal that Democrats want this campaign to continue. Obama has every advantage going into this election. If is in fact the de facto nominee, he ought to win all four.”
A loss for Obama in even one of the four states Tuesday would indicate Democrats have developed a case of “buyer’s remorse,” Wolfson said. “It would show that Senator Obama is having trouble closing the deal with Democrats.”
What’s funny is that this is coming from a campaign that has lost 11 in a row, 24 of 37 contests, is behind in delegates in every category (except superdelegates, though not by enough to overtake the actual vote) and overall votes.
Because what this country really needs in the White House is more hypocrisy and more of the inability to see reality…