Thursday :: May 29, 2008

Florida and Michigan


by eriposte

If there is one thing I regret the most in this campaign, that would be the fact that I was not paying any attention in the Fall of last year to the DNC's shenanigans on Florida and Michigan. I just assumed it was a silly game and like many others I assumed that those delegates would eventually get seated - and therefore paid little attention to the goings on back then. The fact is, I really ought to have written about it and pointed out that it was completely unacceptable to strip FL/MI of all their delegates - which is contrary to the traditional "punishment". That I didn't do so was my mistake.

I have been trying to find some time to write at some length about FL/MI but time has been hard to find to really give this topic the depth of coverage it deserves. So, I'm just going to make some quick comments and cite some relevant posts by BTD.

First, Sen. Clinton's position. Look, is there some hypocrisy on her part on FL/MI? You bet. She could have been more vocal about the travesty back then - no doubt about it. However, is she Evil just because she is fighting to seat FL/MI today and positioning this as a voting rights issue? The answer is no. Many of us thought FL/MI would get seated eventually (cough, cough) and she also made noises to that effect back then - so the hypocrisy is not as terrible as some people are making it out to be. She is simply flexing her muscles - in a way that is upsetting her critics - to make sure that what was implicitly assumed (wink, wink) back then, will get translated into reality. Now, you are free to accuse her of political opportunism but at the end of the day, whether or not this benefits her, Democrats need to do the right thing. You simply do not use bull**** "rules" (more on this in a minute) to invalidate the votes of such large numbers of people. It stinks - and I always thought it stinks - and unless you've not been paying attention, it is giving Republicans a very powerful argument against the Democrats - an opportunity to portray themselves as defenders of voting rights! FL/MI revotes got canned - so we have no other recourse today. Ultimately, the reason I am not as worked up as some others are about Sen. Clinton's seeming opportunism is simple. Both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton, to their credit, were saying even back then that they would do everything they could to seat the delegates (at least FL for sure). All that she's doing is raising a ruckus to make sure it happens. You can disagree with how she is going about it, but what she is trying to accomplish is no different than what Sen. Obama is trying to accomplish - find a way to seat the FL/MI delegates. If Sen. Obama really wants FL/MI delegates to get seated - in other words, he is not questioning the need to do so, but only how it is done in terms of delegate assignments - I see little harm in Sen. Clinton's attempts to make sure that the DNC wakes up and does the right thing on this matter.

Second, what is the right solution? Well, there was and is absolutely no justification to strip FL/MI of *all* their delegates. There was also absolutely no justification to single them out for punishment and spare IA, NH, NV and SC. A few people have written about this previously and I'm just going to cite some of the most recent comments by Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left on this - and urge you to read his entire posts. In his post "The Famous DNC "Waivers" For the 4 Early States" BTD shows that the whole "waiver" thing was a sham and that FL/MI were not in any way more culpable than IA, NH, NV and SC. He quotes Wayne Barrett's article to make this point:

Barrett further wrote:

Though Dawson and others on Rules [and Bylaws Committee] now say, as they did in recent interviews, that states whose contests were always scheduled before February 5 were free to shift dates without sanction, that's not what the delegate selection rules adopted in 2006 say. Those rules provided an automatic 50 percent loss of delegates for any state party that moved its contest to any day "prior to or after the dates" spelled out by the DNC.

And indeed, the DNC Memo now says that such waivers were not allowable. That is the problem with the DNC Memo. It puts Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in violation of Rule 11. It is a position that simply is untenable.

[...]

But there was a good reason, SUPPOSEDLY, for allowing New Hampshire to move up, the Republicans in South Carolina had deliberately provoked a crisis. Sound familiar? Barrett writes:

The waiver was, in other words, a reasonable response to a Republican provocation. What's unclear is why one Republican provocation is more equal than another.

(Emphasis supplied.) Precisely! The stripping of Florida's delegates is simply unconscionable and unsupportable. The allowance of New Hampshire to move up inflamed Michigan who then also moved up their primary.

[...]

Barrett writes:

The inconsistency on New Hampshire aside, DNC officials have come up with one other argument for why they were so tough on Michigan and Florida. Dean's spokesman Damien LaVera said in an email to Huffington Post that, despite the unmistakable references in the rules to testing the "good faith" of a state's "elected officials" and examining a state's "legislative" efforts, the DNC's rules "apply to a state party plan, not state legislatures or elected officials." LaVera insisted that the only standard their Rules Committee judges compliance by is what state parties do, and that the parties in Michigan and Florida had options other than the state-designated primaries.

But this makes no sense. The New Hampshire Democratic Party, the South Carolina Democratic Party and the Iowa Democratic Party all had the exact same options that Florida had but they were given waivers anyway.

In short, rules are rules, except when they are not. Donna Brazile has a lot to answer for. This disaster is entirely the fault of the DNC and the RBC in particular.

The question then is how we resolve this. My position in a nutshell - if FL/MI are going to be penalized at all, IA, NH, SC and NV should be penalized equally. Either subject all of them to the same rules and "waivers" or don't subject them to these stupid rules. Big Tent Democrat argues in similar vein in a second post "If The DNC Is Going to Strictly Apply The Rules" using an analysis of the the DNC rulebook. Read his entire post but here is an extract:

To recapitulate, a strict interpretation of the DNC Rules that follows the reasoning of the DNC Memo circulated today would require the following results:

A. The stripping of 50% of the delegates of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan.

B. The full seating of the Florida delegation.

C. Should the DNC RBC reject the safe harbor provision for Florida, then Florida would have 50% of its delegations stripped, but Barack Obama would be entitled to no delegates from Florida due to his violation of Rule 20c.1.b.

That's it for now. I'll try to come back to this topic over the weekend.

eriposte :: 6:52 AM :: Comments (56) :: Digg It!