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Posted by on May 21, 2008 in At TMV | 16 comments

Clinton Jumps The Shark: Says Michigan Florida Delegate Dispute Is Like Slavery And Vote Suppression

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Unity, schmoonity…Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton today jumped the shark in her battle to get the Florida and Michigan delegations to the Democratic party convention seated — comparing the party’s decision to discount the disputed primaries there to slavery and voter suppression.

We did this post earlier
about a Clinton representative on TV suggesting that the party was acting like the Supreme Court did in 2000 — which Democratic partisans believe stole the Presidential election from Al Gore and gave it to George Bush.

But Clinton’s comments today went beyond that and nudged the polarization factor up a bit. So much for all the articles and blog posts about Clinton trying to decrease the intensity of her struggle with Obama and inch towards unity:

Hillary Clinton compared her effort to seat Florida and Michigan delegates to epic American struggles, including those to free the slaves and win the right to vote for blacks and women.

…”In Florida, you learned the hard way what happens when your votes aren’t counted and the candidate with fewer votes is declared the winner,” she said. “The lesson of 2000 here in Florida is crystal clear: if any votes aren’t count, the will of the people isn’t realized and our democracy is diminished.”

The only problem: Clinton herself had earlier agreed to the party’s plan to punish Florida and Michigan. It was only after she needed the delegates that she changed course. For some reason when it looked as if she was a shoo in for the nomination the will of the people in Florida and Michigan were not as compelling to defend. MORE:

She said “there’s a reason why so many have fought so hard and sacrificed so much. It’s because they knew that to be a citizen of this country is to have the right and responsibility to help shape its future. Not just to have your voice heard but to have it count. People have fought hard because they knew their vote was at stake and so was their children’s futures.

Those people, she said “refused to accept their assigned place as second-class citizens. Men and women who saw America not as it was, but as it could and should be, and committed themselves to extending the frontiers of our democracy. The abolitionists and all who fought to end slavery and ensure freedom came with the full right of citizenship. The tenacious women and a few brave men who gathered at the Seneca Falls convention back in 1848 to demand the right to vote.”

So, she suggests, the Democratic party apparatus is trying to take away the votes from Florida and Michigan, unless they agree with what she advocates — which she didn’t advocate at the start of the primary season.

She capped it off by all but saying that if the party didn’t give her what she wants, it would be a decision that lacked moral value:

“If we fail to do so, I worry that we will pay not only a moral cost, but a political cost as well,” she said. “We know the road to a Democratic White House runs right through Florida and Michigan. If we care about winning those states in November, we need to count your votes now. If Democrats send a message that we don’t fully value your votes, we know Sen. McCain and the Republicans will be more than happy to have them. The Republicans will make a simple and compelling argument: why should Florida and Michigan voters trust the Democratic Party to look out for you when they won’t even listen to you.”

Clinton’s rhetorical technique is similar to another political figure’s: President George Bush’s. Bush often uses the “there are those who say” when “those” may not have said what he said at all.

Here, Clinton is telling the Democratic party apparatus, and superdelegates who may not have tilted towards her, that if they don’t agree with what she asks for now that she didn’t advocate when she and other candidates signed the agreements not to contest the states, then that means the party “won’t even listen” to Florida and Michigan at all.

Hot button politics? Yes.

And some Democrats will cheer her on and say this shows what she could do against McCain.

But the chiller for some voters will be: is this a sign of how she would govern if she wins the Oval Office?

Here’s a cross section of weblog opinion on her comments:

Newsday’s Spin Cycle:

The fact that her guy, Harold Ickes, voted to ban Florida and Michigan doesn’t faze her. The fact that she, herself, said Michigan wouldn’t count doesn’t faze her.

Democrats are her prisoners. They will only be released when their perceptions of their reality are bent to her perceptions of her quest. She will repeat it again and again and again. They will get sleepier and sleepier. She will not stop. They will yield. It reminds them of …..[shows photo from The Manchurian Candidate]

–Andrew Sullivan has quotes from Hillary Clinton’s website and the quotes are even more polarizing than the ones in the news story. Sullivan writes:

She agreed that Michigan and Florida should be punished for moving up their primaries. Obama took his name off the ballot in deference to their agreement and the rules of the party. That he should now be punished for playing by the rules and she should be rewarded for skirting them is unconscionable.

I think she has now made it very important that Obama not ask her to be the veep. The way she is losing is so ugly, so feckless, so riddled with narcissism and pathology that this kind of person should never be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait:

It’s worth repeating: They supported this “disenfranchisement.” Here’s a New York Times story from last fall, headlined, “Clinton, Obama and Edwards Join Pledge to Avoid Defiant States.”

Moreover, it’s obviously true that Obama not campaigning, organizing, or advertizing in those states hurt him, and helped the more familiar candidate in Clinton. She decided to campaign to change the rules only after it became her interest to do so.

This gambit by Clinton is simply an attempt to steal the nomination. It’s obviously not going to work, because Democratic superdelegates don’t want to commit suicide. But this episode is very revealing about Clinton’s character. I try not to make moralistic characterological judgments about politicians, because all politicians compromise their ideals in the pursuit of power. There are no angels in this business. Clinton’s gambit, however, truly is breathtaking.

Sister Toldjah:

Dayum. Talk about laying it on thick. She’s pulling out a lot of the trademark Dem cards there, eh?

..I remember some of the pundits were saying Tuesday night that even though her Kentucky win was impressive, that the odds were still big time stacked against her and they predicted after June 3rd, when the last Dem primaries are held (in Montana and South Dakota), she would bow out gracefully and start showing support for Obama. From the sounds of things today, that ain’t gonna be happenin’.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit:

Is she … encouraging them to vote Republican if the delegations aren’t seated? Don’t laugh; re-read the post from that Greta interview and remind yourself how far she’ll go to delegitimize Obama as nominee if she doesn’t get her way on this. What kind of compromise on the delegations will satisfy her, though? Is she going to the convention if anything less than the full number are seated and the full popular vote totals are added to her column? The AP surveyed members of the DNC’s credentials committee a few days ago and found no support for that; the states have to pay some kind of penalty or else other states will follow their lead four years from now. But if she agrees to anything less, it’ll cripple her last argument to the superdelegates.

Exit question: How does this play out? Does the committee seat half the delegates and dare her to push this all the way to Denver? Or do they try to encourage enough supers to switch to Obama to give him a big enough margin that Florida and Michigan become irrelevant, whereupon they’ll simply bite the bullet, seat each state’s full delegation, and deal with the perverse incentives about moving up one’s primary in four years?

John Cole offers a YOU TUBE VIDEO from October where Clinton said something quite different about Michigan. Cole writes:

Once again, the hostage crisis metaphor is appropriate….What a contemptible wretch Sen. Clinton has turned out to be, and I find it stunning that many Democratic blogs who routinely bitch about the various and numerous violations of rules, law, and international agreements by the Bush administration sit by and swallow this nonsense from the Senator Clinton.

Cartoon by Mike Keefe, The Denver Post

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