February 19, 2008

The Silence Of The Saps

The voters in the Democratic primaries, as opposed to the caucuses, have labored under the delusion that their delegates have a commitment to follow the popular vote in their state. A little-known rule in the DNC removed the first-ballot requirement of pledged delegates to remain faithful to their state's vote. The Hillary Clinton campaign has begun strategizing to get enough of Barack Obamas' pledged delegates to flip -- and Obama himself appears ready to flip if she tries it:

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign intends to go after delegates whom Barack Obama has already won in the caucuses and primaries if she needs them to win the nomination.

This strategy was confirmed to me by a high-ranking Clinton official on Monday. And I am not talking about superdelegates, those 795 party big shots who are not pledged to anybody. I am talking about getting pledged delegates to switch sides. ....

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer told me Monday he assumes the Obama campaign is going after delegates pledged to Clinton, though a senior Obama aide told me he knew of no such strategy.

But one neutral Democratic operative said to me: “If you are Hillary Clinton, you know you can’t get the nomination just with superdelegates without splitting the party. You have to go after the pledged delegates.”

The Obama campaign says it's just politics as usual, and perhaps worse than that:

“As it becomes increasingly clear that Senator Clinton may not be able to secure the nomination by winning the support of actual voters, the Clinton campaign has once again floated a strategy that would essentially say that the preference of Democratic voters is a mere obstacle to their win-at-all-costs strategy," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. "First, they said they’ll try to seat the non-existent delegates in Florida and Michigan, something that neutral party leaders have roundly criticized. Then, they suggested that superdelegates should consider subverting the will of the voters and the pledged delegates, which has also been strongly objected to.

“Their new strategy will be to convince delegates that were pledged by actual Democratic voters to switch sides. In their own words, ‘all the rules will be going out the window.’ Voters are already rejecting the Clinton campaign’s say-or-do-anything-to-win tactics, and this is the latest example that it’s time to turn the page on this type of politics that could severely harm our party’s chances to win the general election."

As this primary continues, we find out more and more unsavory aspects of the Democratic Party's processes. The superdelegates were bad enough -- an attempt by the DNC to thwart the will of the voters in case the primaries selected someone not in tune with the party Establishment. Now we find out that all of the primaries and caucuses, and all of the get-out-the-vote efforts that went along with them, mean almost nothing. The party and not the people will select the nominee, or, at least under the DNC's rules, that remains a very distinct possibility.

The rules aren't going out the window; they're getting held up to the light, and their stench has become overwhelming. The Clintons don't suggest breaking the rules but simply using them to their advantage.

The press has reported endlessly on the enthusiasm gap between the Republican and Democratic primaries. That will prove a double-edged sword if Hillary or Obama somehow manages to get significant defections among pledged delegates. The whole convention will turn into a massive vote-buying bazaar in Denver, and the saps who turned out in record numbers in these primaries and caucuses will find out that their efforts meant absolutely nothing at all.

You think an enthusiasm gap existed in the primaries? Wait to see what happens if Hillary wins the nomination in this manner. The silence of the saps in November will be deafening. (via The Moderate Voice)

UPDATE: TPM Election Central has a denial from the Clinton campaign. As Joe Gandelman says, this most likely was a trial balloon that fell absolutely flat. I doubt that Roger Simon got up this morning and decided to invent the story out of whole cloth.


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