Friday, May 09, 2008

A Proposal Selfishly Rejected

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today, May 9, 2008, that the executive committee of the Michigan State Democratic Party has proposed a plan to give Hillary Clinton 69delegates and Barack Obama 59.

As I would have expected, the Clinton camp, which has proposed that the New York senator receive 73 delegates and the Illinois senator 55, rejected the proposal. Clearly, Clinton needs a nearly cataclysmic event, a major Obama scandal, or the reemergence of Jeremiah Wright to have a realistic chance to overtake the frontrunner. Apportioning Michigan's delegates on a reasonable and/or fair basis, as suggested by the state party, would barely help Clinton. Neither would apportioning California's 211 pledged (non-super) delegates as they were won, 105 for Clinton, 67 for Obama, and 13 for Edwards, help her much.

The response of Clinton spokesman Isaac Baker to the Michigan offer is revealing: "This proposal does not honor the 600,000 votes that were cast in Michigan's January primary. Those votes must be counted." An official accounting of the votes in Florida (where the candidates signed, and honored, a party pledge not to campaign) and in Michigan (ditto Florida, and Obama and Edwards had honorably taken their names off the ballot) would be necessary (though probably not sufficient) for an effective bid for HRC.

As the Michigan proposal would do little to help Clinton, it actually would bring Barack Obama one major step closer to nomination. Further, the Obama campaign will need to blunt the GOP's expected charge this fall that the Democratic Party didn't care enough to consider the sentiments of voters in these two pivotal states. And the Obamites had to have known that the Clintonites would reject the proposal, which would have left their own guy as the one candidate apparently willing to compromise in the cause of party unity.

Why, then, did the Obama campaign reject this possible solution? Perhaps it figured it was unnecessary, given the defeatist remark ("I don't see it going to the convention") of Clinton campaign manager Terry McAuliffe on the Today show on 3/8/08. Still, one could have expected Barack Obama to be a little magnanimous, even as he triumpantly, and dismissively, proceeds with his victory lap.

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