It's Settled! Obama Will Face McCain. Probably.

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The Rules Committee of the National Democratic Party yesterday settled the issue of seating Michigan's and Florida's delegates at the national Democratic convention. It was a very remarkable process to watch. I was inordinately impressed by all the players, speakers, and witnesses before the Committee, and the Committee members themselves. It was messy, raucous, loud, impassioned, intense, and yet, also orderly, governed by ruled procedures, and fair in its hearing of the many points of view represented by the various vested interests.

In other words, it was Democratic and nearly 180 degrees opposite Republican meetings of a similar nature. Unity was the goal of most, Harold Ickes excepted, and a word repeated time after time. What began as a meeting between contentious forces seeking a solution which appeared to not exist, given the circumstances and differences between Florida and Michigan's particulars, unity found a way through the morass. The ruling of the Committee was that all the delegates of Florida and Michigan would be seated at the Convention but granted only 1/2 vote per delegate.

What this ruling accomplished was impressive, thanks to a gracious concession at the outset by the Obama Campaign to seat the delegates in some fashion and by a fair apportionment to his campaign and the Clinton campaign. That immediately made the impossible become possible. Harold Ickes of the Clinton side, reserved his intent to take the battle to the Credentials Committee at the Convention. But, many of the Clinton members of the Rules Committee were not about to abandon the concession of Obama's camp and lose the potential for Party unity going forward. They abandoned Icke's resistance and joined as one in resolving to seat all delegates with 1/2 vote.

The Florida issue was easier to resolve because both candidate's names were on the ballot and Robert Wexler's speech on behalf of the Obama campaign conceding, and desiring, that Michigan's and Florida's delegations be seated relieved the Committee members of a major stumbling block. Apportionment of the delegates along the lines which voters voted, was an easy prospect given that the Committee was compelled to stand firm on punitive measures aimed at Florida and Michigan for altering the primary calendar. Otherwise chaos would ensue in the primary season of 2012 depriving candidates of sufficient spacing between primaries and caucuses to actually campaign in those states. Michigan's situation was far more difficult to wade through.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan made the case for the State's Democratic Party, explaining in detail why Michigan felt compelled to violate the order set by the DNC. It was New Hampshire which first violated the order, and Michigan's Democrats have campaigned for years against the tradition of Iowa and New Hampshire having first slots in the primary season. With New Hampshire first refusing to follow the order, Michiganders felt compelled to counter New Hampshire's move. A powerful argument to make before "The Rules Committee" and one that apparently garnered some empathy of the Committee members.

Apportionment of the delegates for Michigan was the tough nut to crack since Obama's name was withdrawn from the ballot, and 'Uncommitted' which stood in his name's stead, has a very specific meaning for the Convention delegation selection process. To give Obama the Uncommitted vote would be to give him Sen John Edward's votes as well. And the Clinton camp sought all the pledged delegates be seated in her camp since Obama received no votes in Michigan by name, and the rest of the delegates representing the uncommitted vote be selected from delegates who have not made up their mind yet for either candidate. With a vote of 19 to 8, the Committee decided to grant the uncommitted vote to Obama.

As the Washington Post reports on the numbers:

The net result was a gain of 87 delegate votes for Clinton and 63 for Obama. Until yesterday's action, the magic number for winning the nomination was 2,026 delegates. Now the winner will need 2,118. According to a count by the Associated Press, as of last night, Obama controlled 2,052 delegates to Clinton's 1,877.

Though Hillary Clinton reserved her right to take the fight to the Convention floor through the Credentials Committee claiming the Obama delegates from Michigan are invalid, the crossover of so many Clinton supporters on the Rules Committee to vote in favor of the compromise solution puts Clinton in a very awkward position with super delegates. If she contests the Rules Committee decision at the Convention in Denver, she will be viewed by super delegates as engaging in a scorched earth campaign destroying the Democratic Party's chances in November to spite the ruling of the Committee, motivated by a sour disposition over not having her way.

It is therefore, expected that Hillary Clinton will fight the good fight for the conclusion of the primaries this week, and then seek a gracious and efficacious way of conceding the nomination to Obama for the sake of the Party and the nation going forward. This act would preserve Hillary Clinton' s political options and opportunities going forward. It is hard to envision Clinton actually fighting this ruling at the Convention unless she has decided to withdraw from politics in the future and therefore has nothing to lose by trying to draw vengeful blood at the Convention.

It is now Hillary Clinton's decision to make. Does she climb aboard and move to pull and push her supporters over to the Obama nomination, insuring Democratic victory over John McCain? Or does she open the door wide for a McCain victory due to her supporters abandoning the Democratic Party's choice of Obama in November's election? If Clinton has any desire to continue in politics in the Democratic Party, she has little choice now but to close the door on McCain by opening it for Obama.

UPDATE and Correction Above I referred to Obama being given the Uncommitted Delegate vote of Michigan. That is incorrect. He and Clinton were apportioned delegates in accordance with what the Michigan State Democratic Party requested as outlined by Senator Carl Levin at the Rules Committee hearing. He was the State's Democratic Party spokesperson at the Committee hearing.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on June 2, 2008 3:14 AM.

Unbelievable American Politics was the previous entry in this blog.

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