Monday, June 2, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Massacre

The blood flowed at Saturday's meeting of the DNC's rules and bylaws committee. On that day, Hillary Clinton's campaign was voted out of existence by Democratic Party insiders. For something so dry and removed as the internecine debates of party hacks, this was an exciting day for political junkies like me. [OK, Jenny and I had planned to hang out on the beach near Santa Cruz Boardwalk, but dreary weather kept us home.]

The morning was dedicated to arguments by Obama and Clinton partisans trying hard not to look partisan, advocating the comparative values of "the rules" and "the right to be heard." The party leaders sitting around a square table were augmented by crowd of visitors, and the proceedings got heated with spirited cheers and boos filling the air. I was impressed that this critical debate about the internal workings of the party was being televised.

Leave it to the Democrats to screw up that good will, transitioning from "lunch" to a closed door afternoon meeting that stretched about two hours after the committee was set to return. The delay left reporters and commentators scrambling to fill the airtime while speed-dialing and blackberrying their contacts during commercial breaks, asking "where the hell are these guys?"

And then the committee returned with nary a note about their absence. Exhausted from hours of bickering, they launched into a ritual of motions, speakers, and votes, though clearly they'd arranged their solutions behind closed doors. The committee first heard a plaintive and pointless call to seat the entire Florida delegation with full voting rights. With languid ceremony, the motion was offered, praised, and slaughtered. Even Clinton supporters in the audience seemed to slacken into merely pro forma catcalls. Then Florida and Michigan were handed compromises designed to move the goal posts but fix the game: Obama is a virtual lock on the nomination.

The committee voted unanimously for the Florida option but split bitterly and publicly on the Michigan compromise, particularly as Clinton is losing delegates while Obama, who wasn't on the ballot, is receiving them. Clinton strategist Harold Ickes performed the appearance of being stunned:
"This motion will hijack, hijack, remove four delegates won by Hillary Clinton . . . This body of thirty individuals has decided that they're going to substitute their judgment for six hundred thousand voters. Now that's why I call 'democracy.' There's been a lot of rhetoric during this meeting . . . about democracy, and on and on and on. I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for six hundred thousand voters. Was the process flawed? You bet your ass it was flawed, [but] I've never heard that advanced as an excuse to overturn elections."
Inspired by Ickes, particularly his threat to bring this issue before the Party's credentials committee, Clinton supporters pumped their fists and shouted "Denver, Denver!" pledging to carry this fight to the convention floor this August.

Nobody really knows what will happen tomorrow and Wednesday, whether Clinton will withdraw or press on. Even so, here's a copy/paste from Drudge that seems to capture to mood:

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