Second Thoughts: How Hillary Clinton Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

“Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the super delegates, but also the ordinary ones trying to do the right and the smart thing.”

 There’s a piece on the Politico website (, published yesterday, that is called “The Clinton Myth,” the gist of which is that she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning.  You should read the entire article, but here are the opening paragraphs.

One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race: Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.

Her own campaign acknowledges there is no way that she will finish ahead in pledged delegates. That means the only way she wins is if Democratic superdelegates are ready to risk a backlash of historic proportions from the party’s most reliable constituency.

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory.  An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

For the record, I am not writing this from my office on the planet Zork, nor am I an illegal alien of the technically correct type.  Also for the record, I think the Clinton campaign, which I favor, is in a world of trouble.  Yes, she needs to do really well in the remaining primaries, well enough to make the argument that she’s won in the states with the highest total electoral count, and would therefore be the more effective candidate to run against McCain – an argument that I suspect will weigh impressively upon super and regular delegates alike.

That having been said, will someone please remember that elected Democratic delegates are not precisely required to vote for their state candidate on even the first, let alone the second and subsequent ballots.  According to section 12.J. of the Delegate Selection Rules, “Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”  That’s it.  That’s all it says. They could have written the rules to say something like, “…shall invariably reflect the votes that elected the Delegate at his or her state primary or caucus,” but they didn’t.  “Sentiments” are subject to interpretation and tend to change during a protracted campaign.

Many delegates will be from states whose primaries and caucuses were months ago.  They and their constituents may be having second thoughts about Senator Obama’s experience, policies and personal beliefs.  Would Iowa and other early, Obama honeymoon states favoring his candidacy produced the same results had the Pastor Wright mess been raised before they voted?There are roughly seven months between the first primary and the convention, seven months of hard fought campaigning against a backdrop of important domestic and foreign events.  Obama supporters may have second thoughts, as well might early Clinton advocates.  If we had a national primary, with the convention soon thereafter, time wouldn’t be so much of a factor – but we don’t, and it is.

If Senator Clinton can survive the first ballot at the Democratic convention, and depending upon how the last 11 primaries go, she may have a real chance of winning.  Delegate support for both candidates will become fluid, and there’s no telling what could happen.  Suddenly, it’s no longer just about the super delegates, but also the ordinary ones trying to do the right and the smart thing.

Predictably, some Democratic Party leaders and other notables fear an open convention.  These are what I call “Tidy Democrats” who publicly abhor the clutter of real democratic process in favor of wanting to broker their own solutions by frightening us into thinking we’ll lose in November if we’re not polite to each other.  They miss the point, and need to be reminded who’s really in charge of their Party.

In a close and highly contested race, what’s the point of having a convention if it isn’t open?

As for Politico’s point about no one being willing to tell a Black candidate that strict adherence to the process for nominating a Democrat for President has denied him a victory, it’s a notion that sells Senator Obama and other Black Americans – “the party’s most reliable constituency” – short.  It presumes that their only reaction to all things is racial and, as such, insults their intelligence and sophistication as voters.  Of course, if I were Black, it would be nice to have someone who looked like me in The White House.  If it doesn’t happen this time, it will happen soon, quite possibly with a Barack Obama candidacy in 2012 or 16.  So what?  Hillary Clinton is a woman representing a full half of the population that has never held the same high office.  Whoever wins, this election is history in the making.

He may not like the outcome, but I suspect Senator Obama and most other Black voters would agree that it makes no more sense to give him the nomination because he’s Black, than to deny him the opportunity for the same reason.

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9 responses to “Second Thoughts: How Hillary Clinton Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

  1. He shouldn’t be given the nomination because he is black; he should be given the nomination because he is the best fit for the job as it is now being presented. Hillary has too much trouble telling fact from fiction (and so does Bill for that matter). They are a poison couple to this country and the nomination.

  2. Hi, Susan. I agree with your first point, but disagree that he’s the most qualified of the two.

    Although Senator Clinton is hardly my idea of the perfect candidate, I think she’ll be more effective at working within Congress and corporate America, and with her counterparts in other countries to accomplish a reasonable domestic agenda and foreign policy. Senator Obama’s notion of governing by concensus is, for me, another indicator of his naivete. I don’t think we have the time to wait for him to adjust, nor can we risk him making a serious mistake while he does. I look forward to his running again in 2016 when he’s more seasoned. (I’m also concerned that he can’t beat McCain, although you’d think that would be a walk in the park.)

    Thanks for stopping by. -wf

  3. So you’re suggesting that the pledged delegates should ignore the will of those they represent, and vote for HRC?

    You really want McCain for president, don’t you?

    Because, if in the end, Obama has won the popular/pledged votes, but Clinton wheels and deals her way to the nomination, the Democratic Party will be mortally wounded.

  4. Hi, Snerdly. No. I’m not suggesting that they ignore the will of those they represent. Quite to contrary, I expect them to vote the way they were elected on the first ballot, but after that they may want to consider how their constituents feel now, in some cases months after their primary or caucus — which could work for or against either of the candidates.

    And no, I don’t want Senator McCain elected, or any other Republican for that matter. I don’t buy the argument that the Democrats have to be nice to each other, at the expense of democractic (small “d”) process, to get elected. Democrats have spunk, which is one of the reasons I like them.

    As for Senator Obama having won the popular/pledged vote, I’d agree with you if we had a same day national primary, but we don’t. It’s been a long time since the first primary (caucus) in Iowa on January 3rd. Are you suggesting that there’s been no change in voter interest in one or both candidates since then — national polls to the contrary?


  5. >>As for Senator Obama having won the popular/pledged vote, I’d agree with you if we had a same day national primary, but we don’t. It’s been a long time since the first primary (caucus) in Iowa on January 3rd. Are you suggesting that there’s been no change in voter interest in one or both candidates since then — national polls to the contrary?

    Well then why the heck do we have primaries/caucuses, if, according to you, we should discount their results, and choose by Rasmussen reports, and telephone surveys?

    It seems to me, that this is just another Clinton tactic to change the rules after the game has already started (in the same vein as calling for the Michigan/Florida re-votes)

  6. For one thing, I’m not in favor of caucuses because of how they’re scheduled, and because of their openness, the way they favor people who don’t mind having their personal preferences aired in public. I believe in the importance of casting a secret ballot, without exposure or intimidation. In any event, the general election isn’t a caucus.

    As for the primaries, I don’t think it makes any sense to have them spread out over months during which the voters stand to learn more and more about the candidates. Voters in the last primary are much more eductated, much more familiar with the candidates than their counterparts who voted months earlier.

    What would you do? No kidding. It’s the second ballot at the convention. Neither Senator Obama or Senator Clinton won on he first ballot. The two of them were less than 100 delegate votes apart. It’s been months since you were elected as an Obama delegate. In the meantime, polls show Clinton can beat McCain. Obama, maybe not. She’s won the states with the higher electoral count, the ones you need to win in November. And the e-mail, the cell phone calls from your state keep pressuring you to vote for her. What are you going to do? If nobody changes his or her mind, it’ll be a permanent stalemate. So what are you going to do? -wf

  7. Well I’ll tell you what I DON’T DO… change the rules, midstream.

    All the negatives you describe regarding caucuses and primaries may be valid, but the time to debate them is between elections, not during them.

    As I said, if Hillary turns out to be the nominee, even though Barrack won the pledged delegates, this years Democratic convention is going to make 1968 look like a kumbaya moment.

  8. Hi. I agree with your first and second points.

    The thing is, there’s nothing in the rules to prevent you from changing your mind and your vote. They could have written the rules otherwise, but they didn’t on purpose, precisely to avoid a stalemate. To put it more directly, according to the rules, you can change your vote. If you don’t, other delegates will until eventually someone gets the nomination. If it’s Clinton, Senator Obama will have no basis to complain. He obviously didn’t have enough delegate votes going into the convention, and he failed to pick up enough additional votes and to hold on to all of his own. He lost, according to the rules.

    Guests of the Wordfeeder always get the last word. Your turn. Talk to you later. -wf

  9. Unfortunately, I have to get back to work…

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