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Obama Pushes to Ignore SuperDelegate Rules

After touching on the gross arrogance of Obama in a post yesterday, we didn't have to wait long for another example of Obama's camp pushing back against the superdelegate rules.

Sen. Barack Obama late last night picked up an endorsement from D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a super delegate who said he is what "our country, our party and this city needs at this turning point in our history."

Norton said she had planned to wait until closer to the general election to endorse a candidate. But "as a super delegate, I decided I had to speak up now to separate myself from the idea that is afoot for the first time that super delegates, especially those who have not announced their choice, could or should decide our nominee under some circumstances."

"The notion that a candidate who has not earned delegates could become the Democratic nominee for president is at odds with the democratic principles of our party reforms. Super delegates were never intended to allow the return of smoked-filled room, behind the scenes selection of our candidate," Norton continued. "I have carried a banner for a democracy of the District of Columbia too long to depart from principles of democracy within my own party."

"The idea that's been afoot for the first time..."? Bullshit. These rules have been in place for 25 years. This is just another example of the intellectual dishonesty of Barack Obama deciding it's a problem now -- now that he perceives the rules are working against him.

Where was Obama at any time in the past on this issue? Silent. Silent until he perceives it's to his advantage to change the rules. Then his camp whips out the platitudes like "principles of democracy" and fires up the Obamatronic masses to march on his behalf.

Earlier today, I offered up this comment in response to commenter Andy's concern that the superdelegate rules might run counter to the "will of the people":

As to the question of whether superdelegates should overrule the will of the people - my answer is absolutely - yes. That's why they are there. To exercise independent thought and judgment.

One need only look at the 1972 George McGovern debacle to see why. McGovern carried one state and DC in the general, and never should have been the nominee. Democrat party seniors knew he'd lose - but it was the "will of the people."

Here's another reason:

    "With Sen. John McCain cruising toward the nomination I'm wondering if my vote in tomorrows Virginia primary (Maryland and D.C. are voting as well - hence the Potomac Primary moniker) might have more worth elsewhere; specifically as a vote for Hillary Clinton. Having no dog in the Obama/Clinton fight I have no problem casting a ballot in the Democratic primary to try and get Hillary, who I consider the more favorable opponent for McCain in November, back on track for the Democratic nomination."

Imagine a scenario where the Democratic race boils down to one state primary deciding who becomes our nominee, Clinton or Obama, in... lets say...Pennsylvania.

Imagine a scenario where enough Republicans, like Kevin, switch registration and vote for Clinton, as Kevin advocates above.

Shouldn't the superdelegates look at that, and make the situation right by "ignoring the will of the people" and giving the nomination to Obama?

Obamatrons will bobble-head an enthusiastic Yes! on that point, of course, because the superdelegate rules are protecting their candidate of choice.

As usual, Barack Obama isn't thinking any further than the tip of his nose, envisioning that the superdelegate rules are working against him today, therefore ignoring (or just plain failing to grasp) the protection the superdelegate structure offers to the Democratic party.

Just more evidence that he's not a 'big-picture' thinker at all...


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Comments (18)

Steve Crickmore:

Lee, it seems that a number of Clinton super delegates agree with some of the reasoning tendentious or not, of the Obama superdelegates.

Several Clinton superdelegates, whose votes could help decide the nomination, said Monday that they were wavering in the face of Mr. Obama's momentum after victories in Washington State, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine last weekend.

Some said that they, like the hundreds of uncommitted superdelegates still at stake, might ultimately "go with the flow," in the words of one, and support the candidate who appears to show the most strength in the primaries to come.

Surely, you don't expect Obama or his supporters to tell the Clinton superdelegates not to climb aboard their bandwagon. The superdelegates have a right to change their vote and being 'politicians' probably welcome all the attention they are getting and the Obama's attempts at persuasion.

And on the other hand in the Telegraph article I linked to on Sunday, reported....

The Clinton camp hopes to stop the Obama bandwagon by winning Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4, after which Mrs Clinton is planning to call on party grandees including Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Harry Reid, the party's leader in the Senate, to persuade Mr Obama to stand down.

Where is the respecting of the wishes of the ordinary delegates pledged vote, in this scenario? The Clintons surely are trying to arm twist the party's grandees, as well. In summary, I think we are witnessing some pretty close politicking fom both camps..

Lee Ward:

Some Clinton superdelegates may decide to exercise their options and choose whoever they want to choose?

That's what I'm arguing for - and what Obamatrons are arguing against - they want the superdelegates' decision to be based on the populist choice - a convenient theory that runs against the rules - the same rules Obama hasn't objected to until now.

Rubber-stamping the populist choice is bad for the Democratic chances in the election. We need the superdeleqates to do their job, and the fact that Obama's camp wants them to just rubber stamp his nomination is a blatant example of bending the rules.

The thing is Clinton was the only candidate that didn't take her name off on the ballot in these particular states, no? The other candidates respected the rules. Clinton when asked about not taking her name off said it didn't matter because these states wont count. Now she is turning around and protesting that these states don't count. It doesn't make sense and it is unfair to candidates who feel in line with the party in spirit and in deed.

The states in question obviously didn't take the party's threats seriously.

I think the only solution is to hold an election or caucus where democratic candidates can have a level playing field.

If they allow Clinton those states where the rest of the candidates were not allowed an even playing field in the state, she may win the nomination, but it will be a hollow victory. It will be a win that will always be questioned.
If that is how she wants to win, that is up to her campaign.

Steve Crickmore:

I agree to that extent of merely rubberstamping, and if the Obama uses too much pressure it could backfire. I'm sure he hasn't argued about changing the rules. "Obama advisers have argued that superdelegates should reflect the will of the voters and also take into account who they believe would be the best nominee." At any rate, the superdelgates have until the convention takes place in August to make up their minds and they can consult widely or look at lots of opinion polls about McCain versus Obama or Clinton in the summer, if the nomination is still not decided.

Lee Ward:

"The thing is Clinton was the only candidate that didn't take her name off on the ballot in these particular states, no?"

In Michigan all three candidates had the choice of taking their names off the ballot or not.

Edwards and Obama decided to remove their names.

Clinton decided not to.

Obama and Edwards ran vigorous campaigns in Michigan to have voters select "undecided" - so they did campaign as well - they campaigned against Hillary.

In Florida, Obama and Edwards were on the ballot but had their asses handed to them by Clinton. She won Florida fair and square, but the delegates currently don't count under the current ruling by the DNC because Florida moved their primary to occur before Super Tuesday in contravention of DNC rules.

I've agreed elsewhere that the primaries should be rerun. I think the outcome would be exactly the same end-result.

Obama's actions in Michigan underscore the inexperience and wrong-headedness of his decision-making process.

His choices could possibly have cost him the nomination. We don't need that kind of inexperience in the white house, no?

Andy:

Steve is right. Obama has not advocated for the rules to be changed, bent, or ignored. He is simply making his argument for superdelegate support.

As for your comment #5, if Hillary Clinton really wanted the contests in Michigan and Florida to count, she should have made that argument before the process began. She didn't, because it wasn't politically expedient for her to do so at that point. I think the decision to skip those states and punish them is stupid, but Clinton's effort to reinstate the results after the fact is disingenuous. Neither contest was fair and square. I do agree, though, that they should hold new contests and that the outcomes aren't likely to change, though the margins will probably shrink some.

Andy:

I'm also curious--would you support Obama if he does win the Democratic nomination?

"Obama and Edwards ran vigorous campaigns in Michigan to have voters select "undecided" - so they did campaign as well - they campaigned against Hillary."

I am curious how you would think that that is a level playing field. If you remove your name from a ballot, you are putting yourself at a HUGE disadvantage. There are studies that even show that order on the ballot can make a difference, not having your name at all would certainly make a difference. Then there is the whole turn out question. How many got turned off by having their candidate not on the ballot?

So, if your district overwhelmingly came out for Clinton and your representative is one of the Super Delegates for Obama, how would that make you feel?

Lee Ward:

"Neither contest was fair and square."

What wasn't fair about Michigan and Florida?

"I'm also curious--would you support Obama if he does win the Democratic nomination?"

Unlike those turncoats among the Obama supporters who would choose to vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee, I would vote for Obama, or OJ Simpson, or whoever the Democratic nominee is to keep the Republicans form holding onto the White House for four more years.

I happen to think John McCain is one of the least objectionable of the GOP choices in the race, but I wouldn't vote for him under any circumstances.

Lee Ward:

"I am curious how you would think that that is a level playing field. If you remove your name from a ballot, you are putting yourself at a HUGE disadvantage."

Well, Duh! So that negates the choice of the voters.

Imagine that in the Texas primary Clinton is poised to win (as the polls now suggest).

So if Obama removes his name from the ballot the votes made by Texas democrats shouldnt' count?

Wow. Maybe Clinton should havce remove her name from the Washington State ballot then, eh?

Come on, Mom, you're reaching...

"So, if your district overwhelmingly came out for Clinton and your representative is one of the Super Delegates for Obama, how would that make you feel?

My district's choice would still count (and so would yours). The superdelegates are in addition to the regular delegates, so nothing a superdelegate does negates the choices made by voters.

By the way, my district is so liberal the squirrels wear tied-dyed t-shirts and drive little VW buses around the trees. Decidedly Obama...

Whenever candidates names are taken off the ballot it gives an unfair advantage to the candidate who keeps his/her name on the ballot. It effects turn out for those candidates, who don't want to vote undecided, but for their candidate. It effects turn out because people look at the democratic party as not having their act together.

Turncoats? What turncoats? Sure new voters, the youth, independents, greens, and republicans may not stick around and vote democratic if it is Hillary. Maybe they will given Mccain is crazy nuts with his 100 year war. I can argue that the democrats probably never had those voters until Obama brought them in. To characterize those people as turncoats is very counterproductive if you want them to feel included in our fight against the 100 year war.

There are plenty of Obama supporters who would rather have a hot poker inserted in a million places before we would vote republican. A huge bulk of us know what is at stake and know that whatever feelings we have about Hillary is less than important than who will be nominating the supreme court. I have voted against republicans after my candidates in the primary dropped out, I can do it again. Deep in my heart I would rather have Kuchinich - but that was never going to work out.

Mccain is just as crazy as the other republicans running, he just has different craziness. I would be first to take anyone to task who thought that Mccain or any republican was better than a democrat. Just point me towards them.

Andy:

Neither was fair because no candidates had the opportunity to actually campaign there. You may count the effort by some Obama/Edwards supporter to urge voters in Michigan to vote uncommitted a "vigorous campaign" but I do not. Just as Obama ran some national cable ads that did air in Florida wasn't really campaigning either.

They weren't fair because Clinton would win nearly every contest based on her high name recognition and fame due to her time as first lady.

They weren't fair because Clinton only changed her position on the delegates there after the fact (or after Iowa and New Hampshire at least). You complain so much about Obama's lack of foresight and leadership, but where was Clinton's. She did what was politically expedient at the time (so did Edwards and Obama, for the record) and then reversed her position when it suited her best. She could have come out against that stupid pledge last year and her case today would carry a lot more weight with me. Sure, she would have gotten hit for the decision by some party leaders in the early states and by some of her rivals, but I doubt that would have changed the results any in the voting booth.

As for this comment: "Unlike those turncoats among the Obama supporters who would choose to vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee..." You are again misrepresenting the facts. Polls have shown that most Democrats will support either as nominee and that Obama and Clinton supporters back the other at very comparable rates. So don't act like it's the Obama folks who are overwhelmingly anti-Clinton, when that is simply not true.

Lee Ward:

"She could have come out against that stupid pledge last year and her case today would carry a lot more weight with me."

Well speakng o ffacts, the pledge (If I recall correctly) was to not campaign in the state, a pledge only Obama broke to a small degree, but let's ignore that for a moment). To my knowledge, and feel free to prove me wrong, none of the candidates "pledged" to not challenge the decision to have Florida count. The pledge didn't address that.

"So don't act like it's the Obama folks who are overwhelmingly anti-Clinton, when that is simply not true."

it's true in my experince and opinion, and underscored by the fact that in head-to-head polls Obama does better than Clinton against McCain.

What these polls demonstrate is that there is a small, fractional (1 or 2 percent perhaps) crossover group of moderate voters who will vote for Obama over McCain, but vote for McCain over Clinton.

I'm not suggesting that the majority would turn-coat and vote for McCain when I wrote "Unlike those turncoats among the Obama supporters who would choose to vote for McCain if Clinton is the Democratic nominee."

I'm only referring to those turncoats, not the majority.

I live in a district where 57% of the voters went for Obama but our superdelegate has pledged for Clinton for other reasons. I asked the question of Clinton supporters how they would feel if their super delegate went for Obama rather than reflecting the will of their constituents. I asked that because you seem to feel that super delegates need to ignore the will of the people.

"As to the question of whether superdelegates should overrule the will of the people - my answer is absolutely - yes. That's why they are there. To exercise independent thought and judgment."

But that is a convenient position given when the superdelegate numbers are for Clinton for now. What if they use "independent thought" and "judgement" and decide in their wisdom to support Obama?

We called you on your "turncoats" claim because you used the word without qualification. It is part of what I see as demonizing Obama supporters with a broad brush until we call them on it. It is demonizing Obama and the character of his campaign until we ask Clinton supporters to support their claims or we refute their claims. Then we get "oh we didn't mean that"

We are demonized by Clinton supporters who call us naive, turncoats, misogynists, cultlike, and the rest. We are told that the states or the groups who support Obama simply don't matter. Then they have the nerve to claim that we are the ones who throw mud and use dirty tricks when all we do is simply object of having our candidate's record or our names demonized.

It is just weird and disappointing.

Lee Ward:

"I asked that because you seem to feel that super delegates need to ignore the will of the people."

Absolutely not. hey need to make their own choice - cast their own vote, and NOT BLINDLY follow the votes cast in their district.

Again, the superdelegates don't take any votes away. If your district selected Obama then your delegate will vote for Obama. The superdelegates are in addition to the regular delegates.

"What if they use "independent thought" and "judgment" and decide in their wisdom to support Obama?"

Andy:

You are correct that the pledge didn't involve anything related to the delegates, but any fair observer can see that Clinton is trying to have her cake and eat it too in relation to this whole ordeal.

The DNC ruled in August to strip Florida of its delegates (I think they ruled on Michigan before that, but I could be wrong) and Clinton waited until mid to late January (after losing Iowa and on the verge of losing South Carolina) to speak out about it. Why the wait?

In the end, I think Michigan and Florida would be stupid not to hold new contests. They would get an amazing amount of attention now with the race so close, becoming major power players.

Lee Ward:

"Clinton waited until mid to late January (after losing Iowa and on the verge of losing South Carolina) to speak out about it. Why the wait?"

She waited until she won Florida before arguing that their delegates should be seated. I strongly suspect that if he hadn't won Florida she wouldn't have said that.

"...becoming major power players." I don't know if it is practical or feasible, but I agree that its a good idea.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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