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January 26, 2008

Rules? The Clintons Don't Need No Stinkin' Rules!

The Democratic National Committee stripped Michigan and Florida of its delegates for violating scheduling rules for their primaries. It took 365 delegates off the table and forced candidates to stop campaigning in the two vital states. Now one of them -- just coincidentally, the one who somehow forgot to have her name removed from the Michigan ballot -- wants the delegates restored:

In a bit of political theater, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Florida Democratic Party clamored to restore convention delegates that had been stripped by the national party.

At stake: 185 delegates in a state where Clinton leads almost 2-to-1.

The presidential candidate said Friday — just four days before Florida's primary — that she wants the convention delegates from Florida and Michigan reinstated. The national party eliminated all the delegates from those states — more than 350 in all — because they broke party rules against holding their primaries before Feb. 5. All the major Democratic candidates also made pledges not to campaign in those states before their primaries.

Clinton could claim most of the Michigan delegates because she won that state's primary after the other major candidates pulled their names from the ballot.

Isn't that special? Hillary and the rest of the candidates have been barred from campaigning in Florida as a result of the sanction imposed by the DNC. This, however, allows Hillary to campaign for Florida's support without breaking the ban on campaigning. She's signaling to Floridians that she's their candidate.

Observers could see this coming when Hillary won Michigan. Barack Obama and John Edwards didn't have a problem in removing their names from the ballot before the primary, and yet Hillary somehow couldn't quite manage to succeed in negotiating a bureaucracy that gave no trouble to her two competitors. The result? Hillary beat None of the Above by a mere 15 points, but enough to gain over half of Michigan's delegates if they get them restored. Now she leads in Florida polling by a 2-1 margin, and all of a sudden she's worried about disenfranchising Florida -- a concern that didn't get much air time when the DNC made its decision.

Would Hillary defy the DNC if she hadn't won Michigan's primary after somehow neglecting to have her name removed from the ballot? Would she champion Floridians if Barack Obama was beating her in the polls? Of course not. She'll wrap all sorts of high-flying rhetoric about fairness and empowerment of the voter around it, but Hillary would have become the Defender of the DNC Faith had anyone else won Michigan.

None of this should surprise anyone, although Memeorandum highlights some of the outrage on the Left over this cynical Clintonian calculation. Republicans have known all along how the Clintons play their game. We're encouraged that progressives have finally started to notice it after 16 years.


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» She could tear the Democratic Party apart from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
So writes Ezra Klein of the liberal The American Prospect about the controversy brewing over the seating at the convention of delegations from Florida and Michigan. Those states were stripped of their representation by the Democratic National Committee... [Read More]

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