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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


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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Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • JSpencer

    Sen. Clinton is becoming more and more unhinged. Maybe her goal is simply to screw with things as much as possible, so long as it means she can continue being a focus of attention. One thing for sure, there is no longer any real world justification for her involvement in this race, because her tactics are no longer connected to the real world. Someone close to here, someone she trusts, needs to talk some sense into her.

  • pacatrue

    You happened not to quote anyone in support of Clinton’s speech (not a criticism, just an observation), so I went over to Taylor Marsh since everyone here says she’s pro-Hillary.

    Wow. Not just pro-Hillary; it reads like the Michelle Malkin of Hillary sites. Anyway, I guess her take on the speech is that Clinton’s earlier decisions don’t matter as they are never mentioned.

    Sometimes it seems that if one wants to stay sane in politics, one must limit participation in the discussion of politics. I’ve always believed I was both pro-Clinton and pro-Obama, though I have an inclination for the latter. But if I were to visit the Marsh site regularly, I would just become angrier and angrier at all the various factions in the party until I believed everyone not precisely like me is a disgrace and political abomination. Supporters of candidates (and I mean all candidates) often do more harm for their candidate than good.

  • pacatrue

    JSpencer, it’s possible that Clinton is entering an insular world of supporters that doesn’t allow her to get a broader perspective. I was just visiting the Taylor Marsh site and if Clinton’s advisors are generating an atmosphere anything like is being generated there, she likely would not see her own comments as outlandish at all.

    This also reminds me of the current President unfortunately; Clinton’s insular group just happens to hold views relatively close to mine.

  • joegandelman

    Pacatrue, I know you didn’t meant it as a criticism, but by way of explanation. As far as my not quoting anyone who agrees with Hillary, I can’t spend all day on one post (I have two more I’m doing now on a timer). I read lnks on several news aggregators of all the sites listed. There does come a time when I’ve spent a large amount of time on a post and roundup when it is done. I can always find a website hours later that says something, but a lot of time was spent on this. I’ve quoted Taylor’s site a lot over the years and, I believe, a few days ago or this weekend. So there’s no ban on quoting her and no oversight. I just have ended this post. I could go and add a quote from her, then someone will email me and say I need a quote from someone who supports McCain because the post ends with Taylor’s quote, or (TRUST ME IT HAPPENS) someone emails saying why is Taylor’s quote at the bottom…it’s bias. The fact is: a lot of time was spent on this post, a lot of time was spent going through websites and her post was not on the three searches I did where I went through a variety of websites. (When this was written it was not on memorandum and it is still not linked the article to which I linked). So, no, I hve done LOTS of roundups and quoted all sides. II do long roundups quoting tons of blogs, including some that are not often quoted (and SHOULD be). But in this case, the clock ran out…and I’m doing two more posts and then done.

  • daveinboca

    Joe, your last dozen posts are quite clearly leaning pro-Obama. As for that “insular” Clinton view, since March 4th, you can check Redstate’s Dan McLaughlin’s vote count on all 13 of the caucuses and primaries & discover that Hillary has about a half-million vote lead over Obama after that date. So Hillary’s little band isn’t so “insular,” but actually about 500K larger than Obama’s box office at the polls. The legal ones. And if the Democrat Party were Democratic like the Republican seems to be, she would be ahead in delegates now too.

    She now has more votes for the entire campaign than Obama, and remember that mantra of :”Every vote counts.”

  • joegandelman

    Well, I guess you need to send that Red State link to MSNBC, the Washington Post and other news organizations because they just don’t have the story that Red State has. They need to alert their editors and reporters that they are missing a huge story that she is already 1/2 million votes ahead of Obama. But, then, they are all biased for running stories critical of Hillary Clinton and what she is saying.
    Here’s a google link and you can contact all of these news reporters and their editors and let them know they’re wrong and that Hillary is actually way ahead of Obama:

    • daveinboca

      Your condescension is not an argument.

      The figures speak for themselves. And the MSM is biased against Hillary, and you are obviously biased pro-Obama.

  • StockBoySF

    I would like to point out that the primary does not elect anyone to office. The Dems have different primary rules than Republicans (I gather the Republicans are more closed in their voting generally no cross-over voters, unlike many of the Dem contests, and the Republicans generally have a winner take all delegates approach in many- if not most- of their primaries). The Republican primary was effectively over months ago, before many states had a chance to vote and I don’t see any people calling foul over the Republicans’ approach which seems more unfair than the Dems (who do allow cross-over voting in many contests and apportion out the delegates). Furthermore even though all but two states have voted (and PR) the Dem race still isn’t decided (almost, but Hill can still persuade those superdelegates to vote for her.

    So which party is doing more of this so-called “disenfranchisement”?

    The Dems have rules which their members must follow, just like the Republicans have rules that their members must follow.

    If someone doesn’t like their party’s rules, they are free to change parties (or start their own party). But again no one is being elected to office in the primaries so I don’t think there’s any disenfranchisement going on. But I do understand that people feel that their vote doesn’t count in the process…. but again, the primary doesn’t elect anyone to any office. Perhaps this will show flaws in the primary process (including the fact that it goes on for like forever) and the parties can revamp their rules.

    It seems that MI and FL flouted party rules for their own goals (and if the Dem party leaders truly believed that there was Republican meddling then they didn’t have to punish FL or MI). But the candidates- Hillary and Obama both- agreed to the rules governing FL and MI. Furthermore Hillary pulled the same stunt in NV when a rule that she previously accepted did not work in her favor.

    BTW: a few days ago on a post there was a comment by someone (I don’t remember the post or who commented) but it was essentially someone saying that Obama was winning because he “worked the system” (my quote, not the exact words of that particular commentator).

    Since when has it been a crime, legally, morally or otherwise, to “read and follow the directions” so one can take full benefit of the process? I don’t know about you, but I want a president who has taken the time to research and understand any given situation to be prepared and be able to press for the best outcome.

    Does anyone really want a president who goes to war thinking it will last a couple weeks and only a few billion dollars, without bothering to do any homework or cherry-picking the work that was done so only the best possible result is presented (and totally disregard the likely scenario)?

    My vote is for the guy (or gal) who does the hard work to understand the facts.

  • mlhradio

    Since the beginning of this whole campaign process, I had always maintained that *any* of the presidential candidates (Republican and Democrat) would be better than the current president — even the fringe ones — and that *any* Democrat candidate was a better choice than any of the Republican ones. As a result — no matter who wins the election, we all win, because every single person in the race is better than Bush.

    Now, I’m beginning to wonder.

    I’ve never liked Clinton, but I’ve done my best to accept her. On all the political tests, she ranked near the top for me; when I made up my first list of preferred candidates, she came in 4th (behind Biden, Edwards, and Obama; McCain was 8th). Her positions on the issues are extremely close to Obama, so it really boils down to a matter of style rather than positions. I’ve told myself that I would vote for her if she was the nominee. I can look past her hideous personality, and focus on what’s important: electing a Democrat to office. I’ve tried, I’ve tried, I’ve tried. Really, I have.

    YET — she keeps trying to push me — the rational, logical, pragmatic voter — away from her. Just three examples in the past few weeks: First, the whole gas tax holiday stupidity, arguing in favor of a purely-pandering position that not a *single* economist would support, going so far as to belittle scientists and experts that countered her. If I wanted that, I’d listen to Bush. Then she stretched her credibility past he breaking point by trying to claim the popular vote total — never mind that it’s a totally irrelevant metric to begin with. Sure, she leads in the popular vote — if you add in the self-disenfranchised Florida votes, then add in the self-disenfranchised Michigan votes for her BUT not counting the Michigan votes that weren’t for her, and THEN completely discount the voters from Iowa, Maine, Washington and Nevada. I call it HillaryMath.

    And then, as you said in your editorial, she “jumped the shark” today by trying to compare her fight to have the Florida and Michigan delegates seated to great civil rights battles. Bwuh? Seriously?

    I am starting to come to the conclusion that Clinton is MENTALLY INCAPABLE of holding the office of president. We’ve already had eight years of this sort of shenanigans, we don’t need four more. If she’s going to run the presidency in the same way that she has been running her campaign, then I may have to rethink my position, hold my nose and vote for McCain. Seriously. Even though Clinton’s positions on various issues closely match mine (about 80% of the time) compared to McCain (about 20% of the time), I don’t think I can count on Clinton being able to make the intelligent decision based on her recent campaign performances. I seriously wonder if she is mentally stable enough to hold office – how can I trust her for anything?

    Gotta wait a few days to let all of this stew around in my head a bit, but if she continues to push the “I am stupid, here me roar” tactic, I may reluctantly have to join that ever-growing group of polarized Democratic voters that will only vote for one of the candidates (in my case, Obama) and never the other. Right now, she really, really scares me.

  • JSpencer

    Pacatrue, I believe you are right about the insular nature of Sen. Clinton’s support, and yes that must apply to GWB as well. I suppose this is true of human nature – wanting to spend time almost exclusively with those who give us the most positive feedback. The downside of that sort of selective network is obvious, in that it severely limits our comprehension of the larger picture. I have much respect and admiration for Sen. Clinton going back many years, but it has been sorely stressed as of late… to put it mildly.

    StockBoy, to follow up your point – and I know I’ve said this here before, but it seems so open and shut to me I just don’t see any wiggle room: I’m in Michigan. Obama was NOT on the primary ballot. Therefore there is no way short of guessing to know how events would have transpired had he been ON the ballot. Period. Sen. Clinton knows this to be true, yet tries to play the scenario anyway.

  • hammock

    I’d like to comment on the Florida situation but, as a new post on this site, I should introduce myself. I am a Florida resident and Democrat. I became a US citizen in late 2001, after living and working in the US since the 80’s. By most standards I should be a natural republican (senior corporate executive, high income, etc) but there was no way I could support the corrupt Bush/Cheney Administration so I helped the Kerry campaign in 2004 and Senator Nelson’s re-election in 2006. Iin 2008 I have not contributed to either presidential campaign (If they ignore Florida they should expect us to ignore them). I started out as an Obama supporter, but switched my vote to Clinton in the Florida Primary, after a careful study. I am sure I will find my way to support either one in November.

    So, my comments:
    I believe the election in Florida was a very fair result. We did not have to endure a barrage of misleading ads and were able to make up our minds based on what we could read in the national press,on TV, and on the internet. The candidates did not need to campaign. Obama actually had the advantage because he ran a National ad campaign of his inspirational speech which was aired on Cable in Florida. Clinton did not. Florida voters did not need campaign das to turn out in record numbers to give their free opinion and were oblivious to the political posturing of the DNC and the state party. A few days before the Florida Primary, Clinton came out in favor of finding a way to make it count and Obama opposed that, so please do not perpetuate the myth that this difference is some recent reaction to a tight race. This dispute has been ongoing since January and every day that goes by without resolution makes Florida voters madder than hell with the Democratic Party. Personally, I would now like to seat the elected delegates but strip the votes from every party leader, including every member of the DNC both nationally and in the States of Florida and Michigan. They are the ones who caused this mess, not the voters, and not Clinton or Obama. Clinton has been clear since her January 25th statement. Obama is the one that is prevaricating, and every day that he continues to do so I feel less inclined to support him. It is my vote, however careful and calculated, that he is denying exists.

    I am less clear on Michigan. It is simplistic to say “he was not on the ballot” and therefore it does not count. Apparently he was on the ballot to start with but then withdrew his name (together with some others) at the last minute, when polls were showing a substantial Clinton win. The candidates’ agreement was not to campaign in the state, which all candidates including Clinton, Edwards and Obama honored. Pulling the name from the ballot seems a late ploy to avoid an embarrasment. If it was the right thing, why not do it in Florida also?

    Hammock Voter

  • pacatrue

    Welcome in, Hammock Voter. I hope you stick around to straighten me out with good arguments and great breadth of knowledge.

    As for Michigan and Florida… Florida is closer to legit because at least both candidates were on the ballot, but it’s still not legit enough to use as a measure of support for candidates. In the Democratic system, the level of support counts. They don’t do winner take all. One could likely build a decent argument that Clinton might have won the most votes there with or without the two candidates campaigning, and yet it’s not just who wins but how big the margin. Maybe campaigning would have resulted (looking at just the two candidates to keep things simple) with Clinton 61% Obama 39%? Maybe Clinton 57% Obama 43%? Maybe Clinton 52% Obama 48%? We don’t have any idea. And those numbers really do matter in figuring out the delegate count. No campaigning doesn’t completely change things: Look at Clinton in North Carolina or Obama in Pennsylvania — they both spent heavily there and still lost — but a good campaign does shift a few points here and there and in a proportional system, a few points here and there are important.

    As for Michigan, I’m just going to ignore the idea that Obama withdrew because he was scared of losing. The man’s name wasn’t on the ballot. We again have absolutely no idea what his level of support would have been. 30, 40, 50, 60? No clue. Again, it matters.

    There’s only two ways to sit the delegations from those two states at this point: 1) Seat them when it no longer matters to the nomination process, but at least they are there; 2) Vote again where everyone has a chance to campaign and where everyone can vote again, which means that some would vote twice. I’m guessing they will do #1.

  • Hammock — Indeed, welcome to TMV!

    I agree with you, in that the DNC “solution” to the states that pushed their primaries forward has made them look idiotic, and set this situation up.

    However, you might find this article from last October (link) interesting. The names were off the ballots in Michigan long before you seem to realize.

    And Hillary didn’t even start talking about Florida (that I can recall) — much less TO Florida — until the midst of the SC primary, when the battle was by then clearly joined between herself and Obama. In fact, when she started up about FL, I remember thinking at the time that it was the first stage of a major problem.

    But I also assumed that there would be a clear nominee long before now, and that the winning candidate would simply seat those delegations. This all rolls back on the DNC, imho.

  • DLS

    “it’s possible that Clinton is entering an insular world of supporters that doesn’t allow her to get a broader perspective”

    And the dummies in the meantime would have us believe that McCain is another Bush!

  • StockBoySF

    hammock, welcome! I occasionally haev long posts…

    A couple points: I understand that FL voters are mad about the situation and I think the FL votes are probably pretty fair (though who knows if the candidates had actualyl campaigned there- Hillary was much more known than newcomer Obama, so I think Obama might have picked up a couple more percentage points.

    My point on FL and MI is that the states flouted the Democratic rules, after being told that there would be serious consequences if the primaries were moved up. After eight years of Bush bending rules and breaking laws (and thinking he is above all) it really rankles me when states want to break rules for their own benefit (which in the end turned out not to be) and expect to be forgiven.

    Now I don’t consider the FL and MI debate to be settled yet and whatever the party leaders decide, then I’m happy with it. I think your idea at a resolution is pretty good, too. Thanks!

    You made a comment about Obama not withdrawing his name from FL but thought he might have withdrawn his name from MI to avoid embarrassment. That’s a fair assessment but I don’t think that’s the reason… I honestly don’t know what the reason is, though given the large student population at Ann Arbor (plus other colleges) I think it’s fair to assume that Obama would have done well. Back to the “avoid embarrassment” thought- I’m not sure I agree with that because MI was third in voting with a huge win for Obama in Iowa and an OK win for Hill in NH. But that’s my opinion.

    As far as FL: I heard (but have no way of knowing whether it is true) that Obama was unable to withdraw his name from the FL ballot because of FL’s deadlines…. So please don’t take that as the reason his name remained on the FL ballot, but absent the “real” answer, I think we need to keep that in mind.

  • StockBoySF

    JSpencer, I agree that there is no way to know how things would have played out in MI (or FL for that matter) because Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot. WIth regards to both MI and FL- Obama was a newcomer and everything was skewed towards Hillary winning the nomination. I think Obama would have received respectable support in both MI and FL (maybe not winning, but still good support) if he had been able to campaign in those states.

    I also agree with your comment to pacatrue. Thanks!

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