Posts Tagged ‘Superdelegates’
“It’s Over: Clinton Won’t be the Democratic Presidential or VP Candidate (and Boomers will make sure)”
Hillary’s most consistent supporters have been folks over 50, especially women over 50. With her statement about RFK’s assassination, and her bizarre “apologetic” explanation (namely, I was thinking about Teddy and so I mentioned Bobby’s assassination), she has lost a substantial number of these supporters. I will not say all. I will not say those closest to her. But I will say, a very significant number. Most importantly, in terms of the race, many superdelegates in this age cohort, who may have been leaning her way, will be looking around for the nearest Exit sign. Ditto for those who were in favor of placing her in the VP slot.
Most of you reading this commentary will have heard what Hillary Clinton said yesterday afternoon, May 23rd, to the editorial board of South Dakota’s Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, in response to a question about staying in the race.
“My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right?” she said. “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.” The New York Times, May 24, 2008, Katharine Q Seelye reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/politics/24clinton.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
And you may have heard Clinton’s “apology,” also reported by Seelye in the Times.
“ ‘The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy,’ referring to the recent diagnosis of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s brain tumor. She added, ‘And I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation and in particular the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.’ ”
Members of the Democratic Party who experienced the trauma of the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King will understand that Clinton crossed a line yesterday. Many will agree with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an uncommitted superdelegate. Seelye reports that Clyburn “said through a spokeswoman that the comments were ‘beyond the pale.’ ” For those who remember Bobby lying in a pool of blood the night that he won the June California primary, little explanation is needed as to why prominent figures shouldn’t mention the assassinations of presidential candidates.
To say that Hillary was simply using RFK’s assassination as a time marker doesn’t cut it. There are simply too many other ways that Hillary could have talked about extended nominating contests. For example, she could have simply said, RFK won the California primary in June. “Oh, but Hillary would never wish the death of another candidate,” a supporter might reply. But it is not a question of her wishes, whether benighted or angelic. I leave it to the psychologists to analyze her motives. What I do know is that someone who lived through the sixties as an adolescent or adult should understand the dangers of invoking the assassination of a presidential candidate during a campaign, especially one in which the front-runner is an African-American. And Clinton not only invoked an assassination, she invoked the assassination of the brother of a Senator who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How disturbing is this? Just ask yourself, could you have imagined this story before it happened?
Please don’t tell me that her words can be explained away entirely by ‘Hillary fatigue.’ First, because she was quite lucid when she was speaking, and, second, because she has raised the issue of assassination before, without using the term.
“NBC/NJ’s Mike Memoli notes that Clinton said something similar the day after the Indiana and North Carolina primaries. ‘Sometimes you gotta calm people down a little bit. But if you look at successful presidential campaigns, my husband did not get the nomination until June of 1992,’ she said. ‘I remember tragically when Senator Kennedy won California near the end of that process.’ ” http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/05/23/1058940.aspx
Perhaps most tellingly, her “apology” showed little understanding of the seriousness of her “gaffe.” Yes, she should have apologized to the Kennedys, but she should also have taken responsibility for her remarks and made a sincere apology to the American people. She is going to lose support among influential boomers, support that she can’t afford to lose at this point.
This is the end of Hillary’s quest. Her judgment can no longer be trusted. Democrats will not take a chance on running her for president or VP. It is just awful that it had to end like this.
(As a side note, Hillary has been misleading audiences when she has claimed that Bill’s race ran into June. Technically it did because California hadn’t voted. But he had the nomination sewed up before California’s primary in June. The situation is not analogous to the current race.)
[It’s the middle of the night—the usual time. A bedside phone rings in a rustic motel in a small town in Kentucky. Hillary Clinton answers.]
Genie: Is this Hillary Clinton?
HC: Yes…yes, I am.
Genie: I’m with Genie Local 9, a hard-working, white, American local of the Genie National Brotherhood. Getting involved in politics is against our rules. But every rule has an exception. We have been moved by your pleas to the Democratic Party Establishment to allow the voices of the good citizens of Michigan and Florida to be heard. We will grant your wish. The Florida and Michigan delegations will be seated based on the results of the outlawed primary elections.
HC: Wow, that’s just great! [Laughs, perhaps giggles.] Bill will be so tickled. He’s had a rough couple of weeks.
Genie: [In a deep, distant voice.] However, I must warn you, there is a catch. There is a limit to genie power. We cannot change the past. Your pledges and commitments to the DNC to discount the primaries in Michigan and Florida will stand. So when you are elected president, your name will carry the Barry Bond Asterisk. Every almanac and encyclopedia in the Land will mention that in order to receive these delegates, you went back on your word and misled the DNC, the other candidates, and the American people.
HC: Politicians do this stuff all of the time. Bill was just telling me the other day about his…..
Genie: Wait, there is more. My brothers and I can see into the future. Since you will be the first woman president, young girls and women–who will look to you as a role model–will know that you are The Asterisk President. They will know that you became president by, uh, cheating. And little girls all over the land will follow your lead. They will start by handing in schoolwork that is not their own.
HC: But they will know that I am a fighter, and fighters use what they can to win. So I say, yes, yes, I can do this.
Genie: OK. I will stay on the line. You don’t have to say “yes” again. I will count to ten. If you say nothing, I will take it that this is your wish.
[The sound of silence, and then, ever so softly, Hail to the Chief fades in.]
There may be good reasons for Democratic superdelegates to hold off on making a decision between Senators Clinton and Obama, but the national popular vote is not one of them. Over fifty years ago Jean-Paul Sartre warned us about something he called “bad faith.” We are in “bad faith” when we are free to make a decision but convince ourselves that there is something preventing us from making this decision. For example, those who seek advice can be in bad faith. They say that they cannot decide until they get some good advice, knowing in advance what the advice will be.
How does this relate to the so-called popular vote? Well, if we can believe a lot of pollsters and journalists, the SUPERdelegates really want to know what the national popular vote is going to be before they can make up their minds. Until they know, they cannot choose between Clinton and Obama. But for anyone who has seen some of the (often well intentioned) attempts to calculate the national popular vote, it should be obvious that no such total will be available. There is no evil plot afoot. The simple reality is that states have chosen very different ways to select delegates. The first great divide is between caucus states and non-caucus states. And then there are the different ways in which the caucus states choose to select delegates. But although many have spent many hours focusing on the latter, these differences are really trivial. The bottom line is that any attempt to determine a national popular vote runs into the apples and oranges problem. Caucus states and primaries are different animals, and if you attempt to combine them into a national popular vote, you will short-change the caucus states. Why? Because every statistical model that seeks to create a national popular vote from these apples and oranges will be suspect and subject to abuse. The caucus system simply involves many fewer participants. One can complain that it is less democratic, although no candidate did so before Iowa. But the Democratic Party did not warn the citizens of caucus states that their systems would mean reduced representation, and this is just what it would mean if pollsters create statistical Rube Goldberg devices for calculating a national popular vote.
Pollsters and journalists are free to go through all of the statistical contortions that their patience will allow. They are free to create formulas, and then more formulas. However, they should know this: they are supporting the bad faith of some of the superdelegates. They are enabling people who have a responsibility to make a decision avoid a decision. They are giving them an excuse. They are telling superdelegates that there may be an Oz-like “metric” that can help them out of their alleged indecision. I say, let them fish or cut bait.