Archive for the ‘Democratic Party’ Category
One of the recurring themes of pieces on Obama at UP@NIGHT is the nature of his pragmatism, which is as much philosophical as it is purely political. With three months or so to go before the election, I thought I would collect here several links to discussions of Obama’s political thought and politics from the past few years at UP@NIGHT.
The entries most relevant to philosophical pragmatism are listed first. There are a couple of critical pieces further down the list. But I think it important that we understand with whom we are dealing as we criticize Obama or his administration. We should not fault him for seeking the possible when the more desirable was out of reach.
And for those who may still not have had enough, there is a discussion of Obama’s pragmatism and cosmopolitanism in an online (read, free) “Afterword” to my new book, Transcendence: On Self-Determination and Cosmopolitanism (Stanford University Press).
Here are several labels that have recently and often been applied to Obama: pragmatist, bipartisan, compromiser, and centrist. The Republicans take no prisoners strategy regarding the stimulus package–which has been driven not by concerns about pork, but by an ideology that still affirms that the market always knows best–has depended on using Obama’s bipartisanship to their advantage. They typically view him as someone whose pragmatism guarantees a willingness to compromise and operate in a bipartisan fashion. And yes, it’s true, Obama would prefer bipartisan solutions. But be not confused, Republican comrades, pragmatism and bipartisanship are not two sides of the same coin.
Obama, as I have argued elsewhere, is not only a political pragmatist, but a philosophical one. Two points here: 1) Philosophical pragmatists are not dogmatists; they are falibilists who are suspicious of those who claim to possess certainty in political and ethical matters. 2) Broadly speaking, pragmatists seek what works.
Much confusion is possible regarding these points. One might think that if someone doesn’t believe in certainty and also looks to what works, he isn’t deeply committed to any values. This is specious inference. Pragmatists can be deeply committed to any number of values. They just don’t think that they have a direct line to the Deity regarding the truth of these values.
So, then, how does this relate to the Republicans’ misreading of Obama? Republicans have been assuming that Obama’s desire for bipartisanship and compromise is at the heart of his pragmatism. If they push hard enough, his pragmatism (read: desire to get things done “only” through compromise) will win the day for them. They will be able to hold back the tide of reform.
But bipartisanship and compromise are strategies and goods, not absolute goods for the philosophical pragmatist. The pragmatist respects them because they speak to his or her commitment to fallibilism and community, and because they might help us get the job done. However, if they are failing as strategies to achieve pressing ends, a philosophical pragmatist will not hesitate to engage in triage. If people don’t have jobs and are without medical care, if the economy is in a death spiral, well, we have an obligation to address these problems. Be nice to do so through having everyone on board, but we can always return to pursuing bipartisanship another day. It’s a good, not The Absolute Good.
If bipartisanship is not working as a strategy to get the stimulus package through, which Obama deeply believes is necessary for the well-being of the country, his political and philosophical commitments, and temperament, will move him to turn his energies to figuring out what will work. And what will work here may turn out to be an offensive against recalcitrant Republicans whose failed policies cost them two elections, 2006 and 2008. And you know what, he’s got the upper hand if he makes this move. (Republicans might think that Obama wouldn’t dare because he will need them down the line. However, if they aren’t playing ball now, he can’t be sure they will do so down the line.)
A piece of advice to Republicans: Don’t push this guy too hard. You are dealing with a mindset that you haven’t seen in a couple of generations. You will end up regretting it. (He’s perfectly capable of wearing the black hat.)
(Image from The Boston Phoenix)
UPDATE, February 9th, 2009, PM. The following is an excerpt from The New York Times of Obama’s first press conference as president:
So my whole goal over the next four years is to make sure that whatever arguments are persuasive and backed up by evidence and facts and proof, that they can work, that we are pulling people together around that kind of pragmatic agenda. And I think that there was an opportunity to do this with this recovery package because, as I said, although there are some politicians who are arguing that we don’t need a stimulus, there are very few economists who are making that argument. I mean, you’ve got economists who were advising John McCain, economists who were advisers to George Bush — one and two — all suggesting that we actually needed a serious recovery package.
And so when I hear people just saying we don’t need to do anything; this is a spending bill, not a stimulus bill, without acknowledging that by definition part of any stimulus package would include spending — that’s the point — then what I get a sense of is that there is some ideological blockage there that needs to be cleared up. [emphasis added]
UPDATE, February 10, 2009 Peter Baker in the New York Times writes (excerpt):
Taking on Critics, Obama Puts Aside Talk of Unity
“It is not too late to craft a bipartisan plan that creates more jobs and helps get our economy back on track, and Republicans stand ready to work with the president to do this,” Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, said after the news conference.
For his part, though, Mr. Obama seemed to suggest it was too late, and that the time for bipartisanship lay further down the road. He said he recognized that some Republicans had good-faith doubts about his program, but he also characterized some of the opposition as an effort to “test” the new president.
(Baker’s article, which includes discussion of the press conference, is worth a read. It’s clear that Obama’s pragmatism does not require him to stick to “bipartisanship” and that the Republicans are about to find out that they have overplayed their hand. Poor Boehner, the Republicans’ goose egg vote in the House, of which he was so proud, is coming back to haunt him.)
UPDATE, February 14, 2009, excerpt from UPI.com:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama plans to travel and campaign more to pressure Republicans in
Now that a mammoth, $787 billion economic stimulus bill has been approved virtually without Republican support, White House advisers have determined that Capitol Hill horse-trading with GOP opponents wasn’t successful and that Obama should instead tap his immense popularity and public salesmanship skills to push legislation in the future, the Washington publication Politico reported Saturday.
A window in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, November 4th, 2008, near where my wife and I had the privilege to vote:
Speaking of hope and America, in words not pictures, from the other side of the Gulf Stream, sentiments shared by many around the world:
They did it. They really did it. So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in the eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world….Mr Obama will take office in January amid massive unrealisable expectations and facing a daunting list of problems….These, though, are issues for another day. Today is for celebration, for happiness and for reflected human glory. Savour those words: President Barack Obama, America’s hope and, in no small way, ours too. The Guradian, November 5th, 2008. President Obama, guardian.co.uk
August 29, Immediate reaction to Palin: McCain has officially lost it, in more ways than one. He is now taking the phrase, “Hail Mary,” to mean “Hail Any Woman.”
According to the much used Wikipedia, “A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success. The typical Hail Mary is a very long forward pass thrown near the end of a half or end of a game where there is no possibility for any other play to score points. This play is unlikely to be successful, because of the general inaccuracy of the pass and the defensive team’s preparedness for the play makes it likely that it can intercept or knock down the ball” (italics added). “Hail Mary” article from Wikipedia here
The choice of Palin reveals McCain’s historic tin ear. He is seeking to put an inexperienced politician a heartbeat away from the presidency because he believes that it will help him with the women’s vote and his base. This is after he has made experience the mantra of his campaign, and we are all aware of his age and health history. He had promised to be extraordinarily careful in his selection of a VP due to these factors. (I mean she really is inexperienced, both in domestic and foreign affairs: 21 months as a governor of a state that has a population 1/3 that of the Borough of Manhattan, and service as a small town major.) Country First, John? Not this time.
Palin’s choice is insulting to women, and especially to Clinton’s women supporters, because it assumes that they would vote for any old (or young) woman. Hell, it’s insulting to men. To think that anyone who really supported Hillary would take (oh my, I just forgot her name) Palin as a substitute is astounding. Is it possible that McCain is so desperate and befuddled that he believes being a runner up in a beauty pageant is somehow going to compensate for political stands inimical to women’s welfare? (Okay, Palin might be strong among Evangelicals and right wingers–Palin’s position, no abortions even in cases of rape and incest–but is McCain really worried about the Evangelicals? Looks like he might be. And if he is indeed still worried about his base, given the incredible shrinking Republican Party, this is not so good for John.)
For a picture of beautiful Wasilla, the town Palin was mayor of, and the scoop on the ethics violations for which Palin is under investigation, see Mudflats. It’s quite a read.
Another reason must now be added to the list of:
#14. Palin will prove to be an unbelievably bad choice for VP, especially after McCain promised to be very careful in his selection due to his age. Given the sheer political nature of this choice, he will have to give up his slogan, Country First. Can you imagine Palin eyeball to eyeball with Putin? How about eyeball to eyeball with any senator, except for Ted Stevens, in the Senate? ( Just think for a moment about how the debate with Biden is going to go.) Hey, John, your answer to every problem is not to pick a pretty woman. Just because Cindy helped put expensive shoes on your feet….
UPDATE: Breaking News. According to Steve Doocy of Fox News, “She does know about international relations because she’s right up there in Alaska right next door to Russia.” YouTube Link.
UPDATE, 8.30.2008 Wow. This is going to be some ride. It seems that Palin is immature and quite willing to laugh while a radio host calls another woman, Alaska Senate President Lydia Green (who is a cancer survivor), a cancer and a bitch. See article here. A tape of the broadcast appears to exist. I am sure we will hear it soon. (According to the article, Palin laughed several times at tasteless comments about Green.)
UPDATE, 8.30.2008 Okay, here is a Link to the interview. Btw, the crack about the seat refers to Green’s weight.
UPDATE: After Republican convention, September 5, 2008. In spite of the initial positive reaction to Palin because: 1) she gave a reasonably well delivered speech (written by professional speech writers) at the convention; 2) sympathy for what many in the public perceive as a piling on by the Press; 3) hunger for reform and change (which her positions do not actually represent); and 4) the apparent progress for women in a woman VP pick (in spite of the fact that her policies and convictions are inimical to women’s welfare), I am holding to my initial reaction in this blog. It is clear that the McCain people will try to keep her away from the Press for as long as they can. But there will be a debate with Biden and at some point there will be questions about her unavailability for questions. Also, most people simply don’t know about her stands on the issues, for example, no abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and that she has lied about her record, for example, regarding the Bridge to Nowhere. Let’s see how all of this looks six weeks from now as McCain/Palin tries to push themselves as the change team in an economy still on the ropes and for which they are only offering traditional Bush/Republican bromides. (The flip from the experience team to the change team at this stage in the game is a Hail Mary. The Dems are just waiting for them. Wait till you see all of the ads with McCain saying just what Bush has said about the economy.) And let’s see how people feel about Palin being a heartbeat away from the presidency after they see how little knowledge she has of the world.
You may think that I support Obama because of his policies and character. Yes, it’s (mostly) true. But these are really trivial reasons compared with the deeper reason.
You see, I know Obama. Okay, well, maybe I don’t know him. Let’s say that I understand him. Or better, I understand something very important about him. It’s a name thing. This may not seem like much, but I can tell you that for those of us who grew up with names that are three or more syllables, and with at least as many vowels as consonants, Obama’s arrival portends a new day. Just his name will change the lives of millions of Americans. Let me explain.
My last name is Aboulafia. (It is pronounced the way that it looks: A boo la fe a.) A little autobiography will be helpful here. I was born in the U.S. As a matter of fact, my ancestors on one side have been in the U.S. for about a hundred years, and close to a hundred and fifty on the other. I know, not the Mayflower crowd, but I can assure you that I don’t speak English with a foreign accent. (Please bear with me. This will prove important.) Here is some further information. I am 6’4″, fair complected, with a short reddish beard. When I went to college in Denmark for a term, I was sometimes taken for a Dane.
During my time in Denmark, I took a trip to Morocco. The kids on the streets in Moroccan cities would often ask tourists for money, and they could do so in many languages. They would always ask me in English. Not having much money myself, I tried playfully to trick them by telling them that I didn’t understand. I was Danish. I even threw in a few Danish words. But the kids wouldn’t buy it. They laughed, giggled, and said, “No, no, American. You American, American.” So somehow these young Moroccan kids were able to spot me as an American, not a Dane or an Englishman, a German or an Italian, etc. (And I ended up with a few less bucks in my pocket.)
Okay, why do I bring this up? My last name is Sephardic, a name that Spanish Jews took a millennium ago when they lived in Spain with the Arabic Moors. It is not a “typical” Western European name. It sounds, well, just plain weird to a lot of people in America. As a matter of fact, the name itself sounds so exotic that in spite of the way that I appear and speak, Americans have often asked me where I was born, that is, in what country other than America. All they had to do was discover my last name. This would happen at check-out counters or in stores, for example, when I produced a credit card. “Aboulafia, Aboulafia? Hmm, so what country were you born in?” I would reply, often rather defensively, “Here, in America. Uh, my mother and father were born here also.” (Why I felt I had to tell a perfect stranger about my parents is part of the weird name inferiority syndrome.) When I was younger, sometimes even teachers would ask where I was from. My name, and just my name, mind you, put my nationality into question. And this would happen in spite of the evidence (me) standing and staring the questioner in the face.
So now along comes Barack Obama. And I am waiting. I figure, okay, this guy is really good, but they are going to say that he isn’t a real American. He won’t have to open his mouth. People will just look at his name. “Obama? Obama? Where was he born? Bet he’s not a real American.” He’s going to be O-U-T before he gets a chance at bat.
And then it happened. He manages to get over enough hurdles, including his name, to win the Democratic nomination. And I am thinking, “Obama, the name–three syllables, with as many vowels as consonants–is going to transform life here in the good old U.S. of A. for multi-syllabled, funny named persons.” You may think that this is a small matter. It isn’t. There are a lot of us. And we are growing in numbers every year. With the rise in immigration, strange names from all over the world have increased in America in the last decades, including ones with only one syllable.
So, three cheers for Obama, a man with a handle who as president would make many of us feel more at home in our own country. And if enough of us funny named folks vote for him, he will get a chance to do so.
Dear Senator Clinton,
After a difficult and long campaign, I want to thank you for supporting Senator Obama and for your efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party, past and future. We all know that a divided Party will simply set the stage for a John McCain victory. We can all agree with Reverend King.
“Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity.” Martin Luther King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” April 3rd, 1968. [Italics added]
Perhaps you have heard that your supporters, or those claiming to be your supporters, have formed groups and begun web sites in order to undermine Obama’s chances in November. These sites are using your name. Let me give you one example, “Ex-Hillary Supporters for John McCain” <http://www.hcsfjm.com/comments5.html>. Here is an excerpt from one of the first postings (June 9th, 11:30 PM) on this site. [Italics added. Grammatical and spelling errors not corrected.]
“The belief that Hillary Clinton and Obama are alike or even close is just ludicrous.
1/ Mrs. Clinton is someone who has served this country with honor for some 35 years
2/ Mrs. Clinton has integrity OBAMA has none
3/ Jonh McCain respects Mrs. Clinton unlike Obama.
4/ Mrs. Clinton is not a racist or calls racist friends, unlike Mr. Obama whose friends are terrorist and anti semites
I could go on and on…….but the best thing about Mrs. Clinton that she will be there to clean out the barn after OBAMA gets soundly rejected by the American people”
Here is currently (June 9th, 11:30 PM) the third posting on the site:
“A lot of Americans have become so
insulated from reality that they imagine that
America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.
Pause a moment, reflect back.
These events are actual events from history.
They really happened!!!
Do you remember?
1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and
killed by a Muslim male extremist between the age of 17 and 40.
2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics,
athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim male extremists between the ages of 17 and 40.
3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was
taken over by Muslim male extremists between the
ages of 17 and 40.”
After enumerating more points about Muslims, here is how the post ends:
“Have the American People completely
lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason???
I’m sorry but I refuse to take a
chance on the ‘unknown’ candidate Obama . . .”
Here is a third example from the same web page:
“I am disappointed that Hillary will not be the Democratic candidate, but there is no way I would ever vote for BHO, even if Hillary is VP. I would not vote for him simply for the reason that the man that represents the U.S., and should love our country more than any other, will not wear the most recognizable symbol of our country – the American flag on his chest. Oh, now he wears it..anything for a vote!
This man is dangerous to our democracy!
Please spread the word and encourage your friends to cast their vote against BHO!”
How many individuals on these sites are actually your supporters? I don’t know. I do know that many are speaking as if they are your supporters. I also know that John McCain is asking your supporters for their votes.
These outrageous and scurrilous attacks must be undermined. There is no one in a better position to do so than you. I ask that you denounce these attacks on Senator Obama and distance yourself immediately from web sites and organizations that engage in them. You promised that you would do everything in your power to help elect a Democrat to the White House in November. Here is one way that you can make a significant difference. Please don’t pass up the opportunity. Act now.
You will laugh. You will scoff. You will be befuddled. But I have finally figured out why Obama is so familiar. At first I thought it might just be his politics. In my day job as a political philosopher, I recognize deep similarities between Obama’s political orientation and a tradition of American progressivism that had its heyday in the early 20th century. This form of progressivism had roots in the Midwest and was linked to the Social Gospel Movement. In some ways Obama is reviving this tradition.
But there was something more familiar about Obama, and about how his campaign has managed to galvanize so many young people. Well, maybe it was simply a flash from the past, the political organizing that many of us engaged in to stop the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights. He is leading a movement in which people of color and whites are linked once again. Perhaps this was the source of the deep familiarity.
Yes, certainly, his campaign has brought back memories. But it somehow didn’t get to another level of familiarity. And then it hit me. Obama is Mr. Spock and his campaign the Star Ship Enterprise, that is, if you allow for the vicarious presence of millions of fans aboard the ship. Consider Spock and Obama: cool, logical, trustworthy, a great deal of presence of mind, etc. Further, Leonard Nimoy, the actor who plays Spock, is Jewish. Obama went to Harvard Law and taught at the University of Chicago Law School, which makes him an honorary Jew. (Being Jewish, I can say this.) And what have we heard about Obama’s blood pressure, 90/60; not that of an ordinary mortal, just like Spock. But don’t consider character traits, or arguments, gaze on their images.
We must broaden our horizons. It is not merely the similarity to Spock. Star Trek ran during a war that most of us could do little to stop. Here we are, once again. (And there is a Texan in the White House, again. Don’t get me wrong. I lived in Texas. I am fond of Texans. I married one. But let’s just keep them out of the White House for the Next Generation.) Star Trek was a fantasy refuge, before the Internet. But Star Trek was going to be canceled by NBC. What saved it? According to William Shatner, Captain Kirk, in Chapter Three of his book, Up Till Now (don’t ask how I know this), a letter writing campaign was launched to save the show. Here is what Shatner tells us about the campaign.
“As a result of this campaign, NBC received, trumpets blare here, more than 1,000,000 letters urging the network not to cancel the show….[It was not cancelled] Perhaps more important the people who wrote the letters suddenly had an emotional attachment to a television program unlike any viewers ever before. They had actually influenced a network’s programming decision. They had ownership. Star Trek really had become their show. This marked the beginning of the most unusual relationship between viewers and a TV series in history.” [emphasis added]
Okay, you will accuse me of trivializing one of the most important recent movements in American politics. But Obama the community organizer would understand the connection. Star Trek was a collective experience mediated by a visual medium. It also expressed utopian ideals at a time when young people felt impotent about changing the course of a war and the world. (Star Trek began before the full impact of demonstrations against the war became apparent.) Obama and his people have harnessed the Internet to allow people to feel that they are not mere bystanders but full participants. They have provided a sense of “ownership” (although I am not crazy about the term). Most importantly, and here the analogy begins to break down, Obama and his team are providing not only a fantasy utopian moment, but the possibility of actually changing things. Live Long and Prosper.
P.S. Leonard Nimoy is an Obama supporter.
I was hoping that I would not find myself wasting time, energy, and pixels on another article criticizing Hilary Clinton. It’s enough already. I wanted to enjoy last night’s historic outcome of the Democratic presidential contest; a talented, African-American, progressive will now be heading the ticket of a major American Party. Wonderful Earth rocking news. It seems that America can still send a meaningful political “shot” around the world. But instead my excitement had to be mixed with disappointment and outrage. Hillary, there she goes again. Not only did she fail to concede graciously in order to help bring the Party together, but she invited comments from her supporters to her web site to tell her how to proceed. Of course she knows how they will respond. What extraordinary bad faith. And for what, two bits to pay off her bills or perhaps have some leverage for herself in the coming months. Further, she continued to make the same misleading claims about the popular vote that she has been making for weeks, namely, that she has won it. The fact is that there is no national popular vote. Or better still, there are hundreds of possible permutations in figuring out what the national popular vote might be. You simply can’t combine the apples and oranges of caucuses and primaries, as well as all of the different sorts of state primaries, including two that were considered non-contests, to come up with a solid figure. But I will let this one go. Hillary will say what she needs to say, especially that people should go to Hillary.com.
But I decided to write not only to vent. I want to see a solution to the Hillary problem, as does every Democrat who wants to win in November. I got a lead this morning (June 4th) from a blog on the Daily Kos, “A Dream Team?” by georgia 10. The writer quotes at length from an article that appeared in the on-line version of the Telegraph. Here are the passages quoted directly from the June 1st Telegraph.
The Obama camp, however, remains nervous about Mrs Clinton’s intentions and ambitions, and is preparing a face-saving package that will allow her to continue to play a role in health care reform, which has been her signature issue for more than a decade. Despite pressure from some Clinton allies, Mr Obama and his advisers do not wish to ask her to be his vice-presidential running mate. “They will talk to her,” one Democrat strategist close to senior figures in the Obama camp told The Sunday Telegraph. “They will give her the respect she deserves. She will get something to do with health care, a cabinet post or the chance to lead the legislation through the Senate.”
Another Democrat who has discussed strategy with friends in the Obama inner circle said that Mr Obama was openly considering asking Mrs Clinton to join his cabinet, alongside two other former presidential rivals: John Edwards, who is seen as a likely attorney general; and Joe Biden, who is a leading contender to become Secretary of State.
Mr Obama hinted at the plan last week. “One of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln,” he said. “Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was ‘how can we get this country through this time of crisis?’ And I think that has to be the approach that one takes.” [Emphasis added]
“Hillary Clinton to be offered dignified exit” By Tim Shipman http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/democrats/2058907/US-Elections-Hillary-Clinton-to-be-offered-dignified-exit.html
In some ways, of course, this is not news. The cabinet solution has been around for a while. But I was struck by Obama’s citing Lincoln. This article was written on June 1st. One could argue that Hillary has put herself further into the dog house with the Obama camp after last night’s speech. But Obama, in a Lincolnesque sort of way, might only see this as more reason for the cabinet option. She is a piece of work alright. But all the more reasons to give it a whirl and put her in a cabinet slot. It shows that 1) Obama is strong enough to deal with her and 2) magnanimous enough to extend a hand.
I will swallow hard. The logic is there. I hope Obama goes for it and finally ends the Hillmail. If she won’t settle for this, then Obama needs to methodically work around her. Most of those who voted for Hillary will not put up with her undermining the Party.
The DNC reached a compromise today (May 31st) on Florida and Michigan. It is fair and prudent. The Clinton camp appears satisfied with 50/50 split in Florida, but unhappy about the resolution in Michigan. From the Clinton camp:
“We strongly object to the Committee’s decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan’s delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.
The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.
We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan’s delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast.” [emphasis added] http://demconwatch.blogspot.com/
Are we really supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton, after stating publicly that the election in Michigan would not count–an election in which her opponent was not on the ballot–is now in a position to claim that the decision of the DNC has undermined democracy? Does she really believe this? Is she actually outraged?
I believe that there is outrage in Hillary’s Camp, as irrational as it may seem at first. Just listen to some of the reports about what went on at the DNC meeting. And I also believe that Bill and Hillary may actually be outraged. The DNC’s decision results in four more delegates for Obama than Hillary would have awarded him. In terms of the delegate count, four delegates can’t be the source of the outrage. The practical consequences are nil and genuine outrage over principle is suspect. So if there is outrage, what is its source? Here is my hypothesis.
Hillary’s Camp has been playing the metrics game for several months now, inventing new metrics at every turn. But the one that she has grown most attached to is the so-called “popular vote.” The fact that this is mythical is irrelevant to the Clintons. (Any statistician or pollster worth his or her salt will tell you that you can’t combine votes from caucus and primary states, for the former simply have many fewer “voters” involved. It is a classic case of apples and oranges. If you did combine them, the citizens of the caucus states could claim that they were being disenfranchised. Further, the primaries had different rules, some allowed independents to participate, some even allowed Republicans to cross over, while others were solely for Democrats.)
The problem with the DNC’s Michigan decision is that it undermines the plausibility of counting Michigan’s votes in a popular vote total. According to the DNC, giving Obama the “uncommitted” votes is an inadequate solution to the Michigan problem. No one knows for sure how the vote would have gone. So it simply took the request of the Clinton Camp, and the request of the Obama Camp, and split the difference, awarding Obama four “additional” delegates. This is meant to make a statement. It shows that the state’s popular vote is not to be construed as decisive or legitimate, for the delegate count does not match the “popular vote” (which in fact is non-existent since Obama wasn’t on the ballot). The compromise was one over delegates, and the way that the delegates were handled signaled that Michigan’s popular vote should not be counted.
The outrage from the Clinton Camp is real, but to be more exact, it is really fury at the DNC for undermining its case about the popular vote. It is not clear how she wants to use the latter at this point, but whether it is for posterity, for the VP slot, or for her next run for the presidency, the popular vote total remains very important to the Clintons. The problem, however, is obvious. By insisting on this false metric, they are undermining Obama. They are making it appear that she somehow won the election, as did Gore, and then had it taken away from her by an unfair system. But the analogy to Florida in 2000 is specious. Hillary and her Camp will have to take responsibility for any damage done to Obama’s chances by continuing to “strongly object” to the DNC’s reasonable compromise.