Saturday, May 31, 2008

Was Unity Achieved?

The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC met in DC today to discuss seating Florida and Michigan delegates. A recap of the emotional day follows.

First on the agenda was a discussion of Florida.

Jon Ausman basically made an argument to give full seating to Florida's 23 superdelegates and half-seating of the 185 pledged delegates. He argues that the superdelegates are not subject to the primary timing rules and therefore should be fully seated, if the intent of the committee is to follow the rules. In his final comment Ausman made a powerful point that Florida Democrats have suffered enough at the hands of Republicans. That is certainly hard to argue with!

Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida State Senator Arthenia Joyner made compelling arguments for counting all the votes. Both talked about the large turnout in the state -- 1.75 million Florida Democrats. And both talked about disenfranchisement Florida voters have faced in the past and how important the state will be for Democrats in November.

Wexler said that in supporting the Ausman petition, Obama is making a major concession in the interests of party unity and looking toward November. Is he kidding? How is it a "major concession" to ask the committee to consider following long-standing rules? It also doesn't at all take into consideration the unique position Florida Democrats were placed in by their Republican state legislature and Governor.

Both Tina Flourmoy and Alice Huffman asked Wexler how, if the committee made the decision to reinstating all of Florida's delegates, that would lead to party disunity rather than unity?

HUFFMAN: Some of us here might truly believe that the Democrats were not at fault for what happened in Florida. What I'm confused about -- I'm interested in the voters -- why would seating them all be disunity rather than unity?

WEXLER: I wish you had asked that question last year.

HUFFMAN: I couldn't for see such a primary a year ago, so forgive me for not being able to see that crystal ball. I've gotten thousands of letters and emails from people requesting that they have their votes counted.

WEXLER: Nobody cares more about having every vote count more than me.

Wexler clearly decided to dodge the question, instead of answer it, and to instead became confrontational. How does that jive with "Mr. Unity"?

The committee then focused its attention on Michigan.

Mark Brewer, MI Democratic Party Chair, is asking that all delegates be seated, saying that if they are not it would hurt the parties chances to take the state in November. He is presenting what seems like kind of a convoluted proposal on how the delegates should be allocated. The Clinton camp wants them allocated 73-55 in accordance with the election results. The Obama camp wants them split equally between the two candidates.

Brewer is proposing a "compromise", to allocated 69 delegates to Sen. Clinton and 59 delegates to Sen. Obama. He has presented a formula that includes exit polls and write-in votes in determining that number.

Sen. Carl Levin then outline for everyone how Michigan came to be in this position. I won't rehash the whole thing, but it seems like he is basically upset that Iowa and New Hampshire are always allowed to go first and second, and that the RBC reneged on a promise to MI after the 2004 election. He contends that NH was given a waiver, allowing them to "break the rules" -- while his state was punished by having all the delegates taken away.

It seems like a fair point.

It must be noted is that many of Obama's supporters seemed to be arguing not for the rights of the voters in FL and MI, but for the rights of the people who didn't come out to vote. Donna Brazil made a particularly impassioned comment about this, which drew boo's from the audience. I just found it an odd argument.

After an extended lunch, presumably to work out some sort of agreement, the committee returned to consider motions regarding the two challenges.

The Florida decision: Seat all the delegates, pledged and superdelegates, with one half vote. Not what the Florida representatives in the audience wanted, but the only vote that would pass the committee. Alice Huffman should be commended for her heartfelt presentation on behalf of the committee members who wanted to seat all the delegates, with full voting representation. The Huffman motion recognized that the decision to move the primary date was outside the control of Florida voters and state elected officials. Sadly, 15 members of the committee didn't see it that way.

The Michigan decision: Seat all the delegates, give each delegate half a vote, and allocate the votes as follows: 69 for Senator Clinton and 59 for Senator Obama. Harold Ickes commented that the motion would "hijack" 4 delegates from Sen. Clinton, overturning the judgement of 600,000 voters in Michigan. The vote, 19 in favor of the motion and 8 votes against, is essentially the MDP's position -- which has no basis whatsoever in the rules.

The decision not only takes four delegates from Clinton, but it gives 59 delegates to Obama that he didn't earn. What came through loud and clear today is that the Obama campaign was absolutely unwilling to compromise at all.

The new delegate total needed to secure the nomination is now 2118. The Associate Press reports the decision today gives Obama 2,052 delegates and Clinton 1,877.

Florida and Michigan will have some representation in Denver, but I don't see how the decisions today will bring the results party leaders were hoping for. With the Obama camp so unwilling to compromise, how can there be party unity?


Mary Ellen said...

This whole thing is a travesty, especially what they did in MI. What in the world gives them the right to take four delegates from Hillary? I can't think of any excuse whatsoever! Is she being punished for leaving her name on the ballot? Are the voters being punished for coming out to vote? What's the point in that? And then to award Obama ALL of the non committed votes, AND all of the unopened write in votes (I guess it doesn't matter who they wrote in...Obama gets them all). How is this a democracy?

The Democratic party will never win MI in the general election, that's for sure...and they may not win them for years to come because of this.

I've never seen anything like this. I thought when we voted for a candidate, that candidate got our vote. Since when is that negotiable? Why the hell should we bother to vote in the primary at all?

No doubt, I will vote Republican this time around. As bad as McCain is, he's a breath of fresh air compared to Obama and the DNC.

John J. said...

I'm sorry, but compromise is not the same thing as total capitulation. Your "compromise" is that Obama fully ceed to Clinton exactly what she wants and get nothing in return. A compromise would require that both sides gain, say one side gains delegates she wouldn't have gotten under the rules as stated 08-2007 while the other side gains delegates that (according to Clinton) he indirectly fought hard for.

If Obama's campaign hadn't wanted to compromise, there would still be 0 delegates coming from Florida and Michigan.

As for Mary Ellen, if you feel that women's rights are worthless because your favored candidate lost, go right ahead and vote for McCain. Personally, someone who thinks that not even a mother's health is more important than a fetus inside her, and who is willing to sell even his own most closely held belief that torture is wrong for a handful of right wing votes is not worthy of emptying the bed pan of the Democratic candidates.

As far as those four delegates in Michigan, as far as the exit polling I have seen, 18 percent of Clinton's vote would have gone to Obama had his name been on the ballot. All told, with Hillary down by almost 250 delegates and only 280 remaining unpledged, four delegates is the least of her worries. Seating the delegates according to exit polling that did have all the candidates' names on them as opposed to according to ballots that did not seems a bit more fair.

In regards to unity, the votes by this committee could have no effect on that, no matter how they voted. The only way we will see unity is if Sen. Clinton, and her ardent supporters, stop vilifying Sen. Obama as the devil re-incarnate and work to bring unity themselves. The people have spoken; Obama has won more states, more pledged delegates, more "super" delegates, more caucuses, more primaries, and more popular vote.

Sen. Clinton has fought an incredible campaign, but she has lost fairly. If she continues to drive wedges between her supporters and the DNC and the Democratic presidential nominee, not just women, not just Americans, but the whole world will be forced, by her, to suffer under a third George W. Bush term.

As much as we might wish (the more salient of us at least), nothing Sen. Obama could say, nor anything any of his supporters could say, can prevent Hillary Clinton from driving that wedge in if she so wishes. There is no magical speech Obama could make; sometimes the ball is just in the other person's court and there is nothing one can do about it. Insults have been bandied, feelings hurt, but we are willing to lay those aside and apologize for any we have delivered. But we cannot take that step without Sen. Clinton and her supporters.

Unity can only be brought by both sides working together.

BAC said...

John - Hillary isn't the candidate driving a wedge in the party, it's Obama.

The Obama camp didn't compromise AT ALL today. In fact, they came out ahead by four votes!

The only compromising that took place was done by Clinton's representatives on the committee.

The Florida decision, while not what I wanted, could be seen as fair. Although Wexlers comments were definitely insulting to Florida voters. He really sold his soul today.

The Michigan decision completely favored Obama. It gave him delegates he didn't earn. It took four delegates away from Sen. Clinton, even though she didn't break any rules. The Obama camp is willing to risk the Nov election over four fucking delegates? How stupid is that???

Clinton supporters have every right to be angry with how they were betrayed by the Rules and Bylaws Committee today. I hope Clinton supporters take this fight to the convention.

As Obama gasp's his way to the finish line, on the heels of three huge defeates, expect to see a lot of women stay home in November.


John J. said...

What, to you, would have been a compromise? There were two other outcomes: Michigan seated fully with Obama receiving 0 delegates, or Michigan seated with 1/2 votes and Obama receiving 0 delegates. Instead, the committee chose a middle ground. Instead of punishing Obama for following the rules as he saw them, they awarded delegates in between what happened with his name off of the ballot and what exit polling showed would have happened had he left his name on the ballot (from what I have seen, the result Michigan would have given was 46% Clinton, 35% Obama, 12% Edwards).

And again, you now claim that Obama didn't "earn" those delegates while just two days ago Clinton herself said that she earned that 55% because Obama campaigned hard to have people vote uncommitted. You can't have it both ways, either Michigan's results shouldn't count because Clinton ran effectively unopposed or the uncommitted vote was representative of her opponents' supporters.

Sue J said...

Well, so much for "every vote counts." The Democrats of Florida and Michigan have been completely screwed over by the political elite of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

And so, while we had the potential for real change in the White House this year, instead, come November I will have the same choice I always have: which if these two politically powerful menb is least bad?

If Obama is the Dem candidate, I will vote for him, only because John McCain is so horribly out of touch with what our country needs.

John, I don't think you understand just how "played" some of feel this year. There is a bitterness and sense of betrayal of the most basic right of every American -- the right to vote and have your vote count -- that Obama must address if he indeed expects to get the votes of the majority of Americans in November.

I await his great speech on this subject ....

John J. said...

Sue, I do, but there is nothing I can say or do to show how that feeling is falsely placed. I could point out the fact that it was Clinton loyalists that pushed to remove all the delegates from these states that moved up their primaries (the committee is divided 8C, 5O, 14 undeclared). It was state Democratic leaders from these two states that pushed to move up these primaries even in light of this risk (Levin is a Clinton super-delegate, as I believe, is the Florida state party chairwoman). Obama has fought and campaigned to get more people registered, and to win more votes in every state (at least up until WV and KY, which I still think was unwise of him). At the rules committee, the plan BAC and Mary Ellen have taken umbridge to is the plan proposed by Michigan's governor, a Clinton super-delegate. According to committee memebers, Obama's campaign had the votes needed to push for an even 50-50 split of the Michigan delegates, but they chose not to pursue that, instead going with the governor's plan. Obama has even said that he will work to see that Michigan's and Florida's delegations are given their full votes at the convention.

There is nothing further Obama can do to address the feelings of the Clinton supporters. The only person in a position to address these feelings is the one that is actively feeding them. The person who is trying to compare the DNC and Obama to Mugabe, the person who is comparing the DNC and Obama to anti-suffragists and those against the civil rights movement. Only she can make this "great speech" you are waiting for.

There are two reasons for this. One, only she can say she lost a fair fight; a victor saying that while the loser says the opposite would fall on deaf ears. Two, Clinton's ardent supporters don't hear a word that Obama says, or when they do, they only hear their own resentment. It is only Sen. Clinton who can bring us party unity - not through victory, but through a graceful exit and ardent support of the nominee that Obama would afford her were their positions reversed.

BAC said...

John - HERE is the compromise Obama's camp could have aggreed to. Seat FL and MI with half votes. Allocate delegates in FL according to the vote. Allocate delegates in MI based on the votes cast for Clinton going to Clinton and the votes cast "uncommitted" going to Obama. THAT would have seemed fair.

Obama would still be way ahead in pledged delegates, and it might have been easier for the Clinton people to live with. The way it was done, not only did Obama steal 4 delegates from Clinton, but he made it sound like he was bending over backwards to accommodate her. That's simply outrageous!!!

So, for 4 delegates, Obama decided to continue the war. It simply makes no fucking sense.

And as for your response to SueJ ... simply more of your bullshit.

Obama is going to have a very hard time winning over Clinton supporters, and the actions of his surrogates at the meeting did nothing to help him.


John J. said...

BAC, like I said in my response to Sue, nothing I say will be accepted, no matter how many links to the facts I put up here. You are proving my point. Obama can't by himself, win over Clinton's supporters; only her actions can do that.

Obama wasn't the one that stole those four delegates in Michigan. The plan, as accepted was proposed by Michigan's Democratic Committee chair and encouraged by Carl Levin (my earlier statement that it was Michigan's governor was apparently based on bad information), neither have declared for Obama. Do I think that those two votes are throwing needless fuel on this fire? Yes, it's two delegates that aren't going to have any effect long term. Unfortunately, due to actions taken by Michigan's Democratic legislature and governor, there was no fair way to allocate those delegates. These relatively independent Michigan representatives proposed a plan that they felt best represented their state's voters' wishes.

Obama's representatives were presented the option to seat Michigan's delegation 50-50, but they chose to compromise and accept the plan proposed by Michigan's representatives to the meeting. This has not, anywhere I have heard either in the news or Sunday talk shows, been presented as "bending over backwards," only as a compromise that would most reflect what would have happened in Michigan's vote had the state followed the rules.

BAC said...

John - it's rarely the "boss" who gets their hands dirty. Obama's surrogates on the committee made it clear this was the only plan they would accept -- the plan that basically stole four delegates from Sen. Clinton. They could have said "look, we truly want party unity, so let's just seat the delegates with half a vote, and give Sen. Clinton the delegates she won and let Obama take the uncommitted delegates.

Stealing four delegates instead of half the delegates is no "compromise." In the words of Donna Brazile it's "cheating."


Mary Ellen said...

(BAC- please forgive me for the following comment I am about to make to john j....but he's pushed the wrong button.)

john j.

First of all, when the hell are you going to quit talking out of your ass, John J? You don't know my positions regarding this race, and yet you make an asinine statement about why I choose to vote for McCain as opposed to Obama.I am not supporting Hillary because she is a woman, I'm supporting her because she is the most intelligent and most capable PERSON for the has nothing to do with whether she is a woman or not. I choose NOT to vote for Obama because he is a crook and an incompetent boob who is no smarter than GW Bush.

I know Chicago politics because I have lived in Chicago all my life. I know that Obama is rotten to the core and will sell his own soul to gain power. That's why he hooked up with Rezko, Ayers, Auchi, and Axelrod. They are all scum,just like he is. He went to Trinity Church for twenty years because he is just like Wright and the rest of his congregation who jump up and cheer when someone tells them that "whitey" needs to be put in their place.

I will vote for McCain for one reason only, to show the DNC that I will not accept their dirty, underhanded back room politics and undemocratic policy of handing out votes to one candidate that did not deserve them. When someone votes for Hillary, she is the one who deserves that vote.


You can take your right to choose argument and shove it up your ass. Got it?

And if you have a brain in your head, you will be very careful NEVER to direct any of your argument to me. Understand, asshole?

John J. said...

BAC, you will see what you want to see. It was not Barack Obama's delegation to the committee meeting that proposed the final compromise, it was Michigan's. It was not the only one that would have been accepted from the meeting; as I said before it could have just as easily resulted in a 64-64 split. Obama's delegation declined that and accepted what the state of Michigan said reflected the will of the people.

Mary Ellen, I made no claims as to why you support Sen. Clinton. My statement to you was that you would, in voting for McCain, be turning your back on women's rights (not only reproductive) and voting for someone who would publicly call his wife a "c***" and who has sold his own soul for support of the right. Barack Obama has fought for and fairly won a majority of the states, the majority of caucuses, the majority of primaries, a majority of the pledged delegates, and a majority of the popular vote.

If you would like to make substantiated claims against Obama, please do so, but there is nowhere in his political history where he has shown a willingness to cheat or steal his way to victory. There is nowhere in his life history a place where he acted racist.

Mary Ellen, while you and I may not share the same view on Obama, I have treated you respectfully, albeit argumentatively. I will never shy away from a debate, but I will ask that personal insults be left out. If you can't debate me honestly, you're probably better off ignoring me.

BAC said...

John - there is another solution. You could simply go away.

There is absolutely no way you can make, with such certainty, the claims you've just made about Obama.

What you have written is what you would LIKE to think is the truth, but you don't KNOW this to be fact. You only know what Obama has allowed you to know. You decided to drink the kool-aid, which is your right. But don't think you can peddle your propaganda as fact.


John J. said...

I have only made claims I have seen facts hold up time and again. That is why I issued the challenge "make substantiated claims." Nothing Mary Ellen attempted to insinuate has ever held up to real inspection. This is not what I would "LIKE" to be true; this is what has been held up to be true time and again.

Mary Ellen said...

john j- You don't deserve respect. Your ridiculous assumption that I, or anyone else chooses to support Hillary because she is a woman and not because of the issues, shows that you lack the ability to anything other than spew your garbage.

I didn't "insinuate" anything and there is NOTHING that you have ever said in this thread or any other thread that could be held up to inspection and finally deemed anything other than utter bullshit.

John J. said...

Mary Ellen, I haven't said you support Clinton because she is a woman.

If what I say is bullshit, then it will not hold up to the facts. Present me with facts that contradict what I have presented and I will update my statement to reflect that information (as I did earlier in this thread based on my own deeper research). There is nothing I have said that I cannot back up with facts. Throwing ad-hominems at me don't do you any good.

BAC said...

"... there is nowhere in his political history where he has shown a willingness to cheat or steal his way to victory. There is nowhere in his life history a place where he acted racist."

John, you are making "absolute" statements here that you simply cannot prove. Unless you have followed Obama 24/7, there is no way you can state this as absolute fact.


Mary Ellen said...


As for Mary Ellen, if you feel that women's rights are worthless because your favored candidate lost, go right ahead and vote for McCain. Personally, someone who thinks that not even a mother's health is more important than a fetus inside her,

John....where in my comment on this thread did I say anything about women's rights being worthless because Hillary lost? And since I didn't say anything about women's rights regarding Hillary, where do you come off trying to tell me about "facts"?

In that ridiculous statement, you did nothing more than try to diminish what YOU thought my reasons were for voting for Hillary. YOU assumed that the only reason I support her is because she is a woman. So, just shove your self righteous indignation up your ass.

John J. said...

BAC, Obama's political history encompasses about five or six election cycles, 1996 IL legislature, early 2000s (off top of my head not sure year) House of Representatives (lost), re-election to IL legislature (again not sure year), 2004 Senate, 2008 president. As for the second half, he was raised by a white single mother and his white grandparents; throughout his life he has worked to improve the lives of people of every race; in every political speech and especially during this campaign, he has fought for inclusiveness; based on this evidence, I will stand by my statement. It is impossible to prove a negative, so it would be more accurate for me to clarify that by saying "there is no evidence that Obama has ever acted as a racist." Either way, that is what I stand by.

Mary Ellen, you didn't; McCain has and you have said you will vote for McCain if Clinton doesn't win. It has nothing to do with why you are voting for Clinton, only what you give up in voting for McCain.

BAC said...

John -- You can say "I think" ... you can say "evidence suggests" ... you can say "it appears that". What you CAN'T say is that Obama absolutely did ______ (fill in the blank). Unless you have spent every moment with someone it's impossible to make an absolute statement about them. You just don't know.

And being raised by a white mother and grandparents simply means he has the same experience as other bi-racial children, raised in a household that doesn't necessarily reflect his reality. You claim it for him as a badge of honor, when it is simply what it is.

My niece was raised by a white single mother, with the help of her white aunt, but that doesn't make her any better than any other African American. It simply is what it is.


John J. said...

I didn't bring up his heritage as a badge of honor; I brought it up as more evidence that he would have no reason to be racist against whites. I would expect your niece, being raised in a mixed family, also isn't racist.

Sue J said...

John, you said "there is no evidence that Obama has ever acted as a racist."

True. He just chose to sit in a church for 20 years listening to racists.

He's very good at staying just above the fray, isn't he?

John J. said...

He was a part of a church that has done more for the community it is a part of, white/black, male/female, gay/strait, than any in that community. There are a myriad of reasons to belong to that church - the reasons he has given are very good reasons.

It also isn't a racist church. In the Pfelger instance, it was a church cheering (idiotic) attacks (by a jacka**) on someone who has smeared their name nation-wide.

It is your actions that speak for you, not who is around you and the random, rare, inflammatory things they might say.

Sue J said...

C'mon, John J. You're dodging the point and twisting what I said. I didn't say it was a racist church -- I'm sure there are many good people there who help the community. But unfortunately, that church also has a long history of inviting people to the pulpit to spout hateful things about other people -- both groups and individuals. Not very Christian if you ask me.

It is your actions that speak for you

I agree. And Obama's action was his decision to associate with Wright and Pfleger for so many years, just to build name recognition in the community.

That speaks for him, all right.