Monday, April 28, 2008

Obama Needs to Support FLA/MI Revotes

By Scott Cavanagh
For months now, the political airwaves, editorial pages and blogs of this nation have been overflowing with the opinions of concerned pundits languishing with worry over what (Oh, my God—Its TEARING US APART!!) a protracted battle for the Democratic presidential nomination might produce this November.

The main concern, particularly among supporters of Senator Barack Obama, is that a brokered convention fight—particularly one ending in a Clinton victory via a super delegate advantage—would be a horrible example of old school inside political gamesmanship overriding the will of the people—and would turn off all of the wonderfully righteous flock that have only come into the political process because they want change.
Once again, I find the gall and chutzpah of the Obama Camp (and I count the editorial boards of the NY Times, The Nation, Huffington Post and Rolling Stone among them) just amazing. They complain endlessly of Hillary playing dirty, when Obama surrogates continually hold press conferences and send mailings that disparage her in ways much more personal than anything she has said about Obama. When asked about it, Obama simply says it did not come from him—yeah, and the Swift Boaters had nothing to do with Bush. Don’t get me wrong—banging on your opponent is okay, its part of the game—crying foul every time your opponent fires back is not. It's a sign of weakness—one the GOP will jump on faster than a missing flag pin.
If crying every time they took a shot were not bad enough, the continual calls for their opponent to drop out of a race in which she trails by the slimmest of margins and has won virtually every major battleground state vital to a November victory, borders on comical. This is particularly galling when you consider that the only reason the Obama people have any lead at all is because of petty, inside political games.
Michigan and Florida are two of the largest and most important swing states in the union. One is the picture postcard of the economic disaster that is Reagan-Bush economics, the other the most-hotly contested and important state (along with Ohio) of the past two presidential elections. Both also happen to be Hillary strongholds (Florida has the highest percentage of senior voters in the country, while Michigan is almost identical in demographics to both Ohio and Pennsylvania—both won big by Hillary).
Because of petty party politics, egos and inside squabbles, neither of these two ultra-important states will seat any delegates, nor have any say in who the Democratic nominee will be.
How in the world can the Obama people cry foul over Hillary fighting for her legal right to the nomination--by established party rules--when he has no legitimate lead in the popular vote and has lost the majority of major states? Does he have a legitimate case to be the nominee? Of course he does, but so does she, and unless the problem of Michigan and Florida is solved, he and his supporters had better get used to the idea that this might come down to the supers—and if it does there is nothing “wrong” or “shady” about it.
If Obama wins Indiana next week, this may turn out to be a mute point, but with Hillary leading in all the polls there, it looks as if the race will be even tighter the next day. The only way to avoid the brokered convention that everyone says is such a prescription for disaster, is to have revotes in both Michigan and Florida. If Obama were to win those states, the nomination would be his—guaranteed. If Hillary were to win, she would have the lead in both popular vote, super delegates and major states—case closed. What would be the argument--from either side—with such a plan?
The Clinton camp has proposed such an idea and the early reaction from the Obama people is that the Florida and Michigan decisions have already been made and that is simply that. They also claim that the costs would be prohibitive and would not be picked up by the party. For the Obama campaign that claims to represent “new politics” and has by most accounts over $220 million in the coffers, to take the position that the party bosses made their decisions to move their primaries up and got what was coming to them—voters be damned (and by the way, we can’t afford it)—is not only hypocritical, it's irresponsible.
Without Florida and Michigan, what real claim will Obama have to the nomination? That he won a bunch of southern and western states that are traditionally dominated by the GOP? Democrats need to think about November. Another GOP win and that Supreme Court will be stacked for the next half-century. The four most important states in the union, as far as 2008 are concerned, are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida. Hillary has won two of them. As it stands now, only the Obama people stand in the way of finding out who would win the other two.

1 comment:

Ken Hart said...

Sigh, this again? If Hilary were really interested in acting according to party rules, she would've abided by the decision to penalize Michigan and Florida. Oh wait, I forgot -- she did sign off on that decision. She just changed her mind once she started losing.

Nice use of caveats here, too: "...when he has no legitimate lead in the popular vote and has lost the majority of major states?" Actually, he does still lead in the popular vote. And if you count Florida, he still leads in the popular vote. If you count Florida and Michigan, Clinton takes the lead ... only because Obama wasn't on the ballot in Michigan. That's because he, like Edwards, stuck to his agreement. If you count the people who voted "Uncommitted" in Michigan, he retains his lead in the popular vote. And that's not counting the states to come.

This talk of "overriding the will of the people" ignores the fact that the state legislators themselves are responsible for this mess, not the DNC and not any of the candidates. (And don't forget that the GOP also punished states, though not as harshly.) If the DNC hadn't punished those states, do you think Iowa or New Hampshire would hesitate to move their primaries up to December? It would be a mess.

Michigan has already ruled out a new primary, and Florida seems willing to do it ... only if someone else picks up the tab for their own screwup.

After three months of this, let's move on.