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Are the Democrats Starting to Self-destruct yet Again?
Last uploaded : Monday 10th Mar 2008 at 00:52
Contributed by : Carol Gould


9th March 2008

Many months ago I lamented to my Democrat friends and family the stupidity of the Democratic Party in airing its grumpy linen in public during the dispute amongst Florida, Michigan and the Democratic National Committee Election officials. This was an unbiquitous argument about the change in allocated dates for the two states’ Presidential primaries. I felt it was ridiculous for the DNC to be treating the two states like naughty schoolchildren despite the impropriety of their actions. I may be horribly naďve, but for Pete’s sake, so they changed the date, so let them have their delegates.

The two states were denied their Convention delegates as punishment for their date-swap from later in the primary schedule to January. The national Democratic Party stripped Florida of its 210 delegates for the state's decision to move its party primaries to January 29. Michigan lost 156 Democrat convention delegates for moving from February 9 to January 29. Senator Clinton was listed on ballots in both states and made some campaign appearances in Florida in the last days before the 29 January ballot, whilst other candidates skipped the state. She won in both states. The Republican Party also punished Michigan and Florida but only removed half their allocated convention delegates and did it quietly and without public rancour.

On 5 March the Governors of both states issued a brief statement to the DNC and RNC: ‘Don’t Silence 5,163,271 Americans.’

Way back when, I said to a relative in the United States, ‘What is with the Democrats? If there is a dead-heat and the nomination depends on these votes how will they get them back? Why do they do things that make them look like a laughing stock?’ Said the relative, ‘The Democrats did the right thing, and anyway, who cares about Florida and Michigan? Hillary will be the nominee with no opposition!’

Well, ha. Now the Clinton camp is, to put it politely, pushing out a brick over this debacle. On Larry King’s programme after Clinton won Texas and Ohio on 4 March, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said his state would now be the centre of the universe and its outcome would decide who would be the Democratic nominee. When it was thought that Clinton would be a shoo-in many thought Pennsylvania would be cancelled. Now business is booming in Philadelphia as news agencies and campaign officials fill up hotel rooms and restaurants. But will Pennsylvania be the decider now that Obama has won Wyoming?

Since 4 March there have been endless discussions on every network about Michigan and Florida. Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, has said the party will not pay the additional $30 million needed to re-run the vote, but most citizens want this to happen. The idea that their delegates will be disenfranchised is sickening to them.

In the ‘Observer’ of 9 March Andrew Rawnsley enumerates the ugly confrontations that have already characterised the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Each slings mud at the other and the Republicans sit back and laugh. Obama is accused of leaving a press conference before answering questions about a questionable property deal with indicted tycoon Tony Rezko. Hillary is accused of wavering on the issues and she, after being ‘honoured to be on the same platform’ with him, shouts ‘Shame on you, Barack Obama!‘ at the next rally. Clinton is considered easier to beat than Obama but by the time the Denver Convention takes place in August the accusations being hurled will turn the public against the whole deal and they will support John McCain, the gritty war hero. On the internet one is reading that Obama’s team is virulently anti-Israel and indeed Ralph Nader asserts that the Illinois Senator is the staunchest supporter of the Palestinians in the entire US Congress.

The Michigan and Florida tallies need to be restored and the process deftly handled, otherwise the Democratic Party will begin to degenerate into the rancorous muddle of which it was accused of being in 2004. (I will never forget the ear-bashing I received from Kerry manager Jim Brenner on my cellphone in the middle of a meal with an elderly friend in a deli in Philly when I had flown in from England at my own expense to talk about universal health care to voters in Philadelphia.)

My inclination is to see Republican Governor Crist and Democrat Governor Jennifer Granholm take the upper hand in this process and mastermind a smoothly run re-election process. If this becomes a raucous public shouting match amongst Democratic officials, it will reverberate well into November and a chance for the Democrats to oust a President with one of the lowest approval ratings in American history will be deservedly squandered. Watch this space.

Further reading:

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/03/17/florida.primary.decision/index.html .

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/09/uselections2008.usa .


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