Thursday, March 6, 2008

Re-writing the History and Legal Books

Give me a mulligan

Almost a year ago the DNC came down with an iron fist on Florida, Michigan and any other state aspiring to enjoy the attention bestowed upon the earliest primary states. That tough talk has softened as the general election approaches and Howard Dean remembers how important the electoral votes from those states can be.

Last summer, after the DNC stated that no state other than New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina or Nevada should voice their preference on the presidential candidates before February 5th 22 states heard Dean’s request and scheduled their primary or caucus on Feb. 5th. But Michigan and Florida refused to be lost in the clutter and moved their elections into January.

In May, Florida’s legislature moved their primary to Jan. 29 with a bi-partisan vote. State Democrats attempted to point the finger of guilt at the GOP-controlled legislature, but a review of the vote will show few Democrats opposing the bill. Every Florida official that would appear on the national news to discuss the move would repeat a similar line stating “we could not do anything about this and the voters could not do anything about this, but it is what the voters wanted anyway.” Digested, that translates to meaning “the voters would have moved it up if we let them vote on it, if we Democrats were the ones in charge, we still would have moved it up, but none of us feel we should be punished for directly violating the rules laid out for primary elections.” Feel no sympathy for people who shoot themselves in the feet. A discussing of improving the primary system will be address on another day.

The DNC pondered it over the summer and decided on Aug. 25 that they would not count the state’s delegates at the National Convention. Michigan didn’t flinch and five days later mocked Florida’s shy maneuver and jumped all the way up to Jan. 15 -- at the time, only one day after New Hampshire was scheduled to vote. Most of the candidates that were not a spouse of the party’s last President showed their support of the national party’s decision and withdrew their name from the ballot in Michigan. Clinton, Dodd and Gravel chose the other side of the gamble and bet on the two defiant states.

Come January, the two states held their elections that they knew would elect no delegates and Clinton handily won both contests. While she did not technically break the DNC rule that no candidate actively campaign in either state, even her campaign would agree that she was much more friendly to the state than any other candidate.

Let’s just be friends.

Now with elections in the past and most people ready to shift from primary mode into the general election, the DNC is faced with the challenge of making good with the states it was accused of “disenfranchising.” Dean and the DNC’s logic was that the election would be decided on Feb. 5th and then the DNC could then welcome the FL and MI delegates back in and there wouldn’t be any hard feelings.

The election now stands in a position where neither candidate can eclipse the magical 2025 threshold and individually secure the nomination. I don’t have Anderson Cooper’s slick touch screen that shows how delegates would be apportioned, but I watch him and many other anchors dole out the delegates and the race stay in the same position -- Obama with a 100 delegate lead, but never securing the win. Whether Hillary or Barack wins every remaining state, the race will stand in the same position.

It is still wise to not be foolish enough to believe that this stalemate will not be overcome before the convention, but how it happens is a most difficult question to address. Florida and Michigan think they know they answer. Many national leaders (fingers have pointed at Hillary’s supporters) have suggested the states be allowed to conduct another primary or caucus and use those results to elect delegates that would be seated at the national convention. Since when are there mulligans in politics? This is the U.S. Open, not the Pitch N’ Putt (quite literally).

But something must be done. If Florida and Michigan stay mad at the Democratic Party, the loss of their electoral votes will be an enormous hurdle for Obama to overcome. Clinton should not have as big of problems regaining their support since she tried to support their case last year. But we know who the eventual nominee will be.

“Hey Blue! You suck!”

When you’re losing a game . . . let’s call it the US Open . . . and you are unable to comprehend that you are losing because your team is inferior to your opponent’s, then you are left with only one choice: Blame the refs. Hillary is a Clinton, a Senator and wife to our beloved past President. She’s championed all of the liberal causes while very carefully shoring up her bi-partisan record with a vote for a flag burning amendment or an unnecessary war here and there. She has been the presumed nominee for the last three years. And she’s losing to a freshman Senator? It has to be the ref’s fault.

So Campaign Clin-ton has pointed their fingers all at the media and whined to them like a little league baseball coach about their officiating of the press. She accuses the media of calling more fouls on her and her past actions than on Obama’s. She clamed that she had been fouled numerous times by the Obama without anyone blowing a whistle and that she has been stopped for far smaller infractions.

Obviously, Senator Clinton didn’t have the pleasure of ever officiating a youth sporting event before she got to Washington. Any official of any sport could tell her that the trailing team is always allowed to get away with more than the one in the lead. She would also know that refs like blowouts as much as the fans do and that the refs are going to work toward leveling the playing field.

Speaking un-analogously, you should always expect the media to critique the leading candidate and/or incumbent the hardest. It is the media’s duty to do just this. For the first year of the campaign most polls across the nation showed Obama trailing Clinton roughly 40-20 with some margins as wide as 60-15. Who did you think the media was going to cheer for? Dodd? Now that Obama has taken the lead, he’s getting slammed just like Clinton, just like McCain, just like Romney and Huckabee. Fair is fair. Keep booing the refs, but don’t let one of the campaigns put you up to it.

Why does my hand always spell out ‘Floriday’ every time I spell the state’s name? Local coverage tomorrow on a Friday report to make up for Tuesday’s absence.

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