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Memo to Obama: may as well just say yes

by: Hazen Pingree

Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 08:02:37 AM EDT


Disclaimer: in case you didn't know already, I back Obama

Barack Obama should endorse the current June 3 Michigan primary proposal.

Why? Well, for one thing I still retain this quaint notion - only recently subscribed to by Camp Hillary - that we ought to have a vote in Michigan with more than one major candidate on the ballot.

But here's another reason: I have $20 that says even if Obama gave the go-ahead to this idea...it still wouldn't happen. So he may as well cast his lot on the right side of the issue.

I'm not necessarily saying that the Clintons and their Michigan backers are bluffing - though the thought has certainly crossed my mind. But there does appear to be more than a few other significant obstacles to its enactment than just Barack Obama. Take for instance, the terrific list offered up here by the noble Mark Grebner last week at the instant the June 3 plan surfaced.

The biggest problem: in order for this to happen, both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate have to give it immediate effect. That means a 2/3 vote of both chambers. And...unless they want to forgo their vacation, they have to do it TODAY.

Call me crazy, but given the complexity of this proposal and the fact that it's never really been done quite like this, I just don't see a 2/3 vote coming together in one day. And anyone who was around for the budget brouhaha last fall knows how much our beloved legislature loves its vacations. Even with the prospect of the first government shutdown in 50 years staring them right in the eye, they still went on vacation. Does anyone see Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) giving up any of his precious R & R to pull the Dems' fat from the fire? Riiiight.

(More below the fold...)
Hazen Pingree :: Memo to Obama: may as well just say yes
Obviously, the Obama camp is nervous about subscribing to anything that might threaten the advantage they now hold. - which is why they've been dragging their feet on dealing with the Michigan/Florida issue. Since I'm thoroughly convinced this bill is doomed anyway, I wouldn't even bother quibbling about amendments. But if team Obama wants to reduce the risk, they could endorse the proposal - contingent on the removal of language that threatens Obama supporters who voted in the January 15 Republican primary (because their candidate didn't appear on the Dem ballot) with perjury charges if they turn out on June 3rd. Maybe soften it to just requiring people to sign a statement saying they're a Democrat - as people did in the 2004 party-run "closed primary."

Michigan Dem chairman Mark Brewer says we can't touch this provision because - GASP! - it would violate DNC rules. Of course that is a pretty funny thing for Mark to say. After all, we haven't paid any attention to DNC rules so far. Why start now? Hmm...maybe it's related to why he's been going on TV suggesting that we start calling super-delegates "automatic" delegates. But I digress...

Anyway, given the state of things if both Clinton and Obama were to agree on something does anyone really think the DNC would stand in their way?

Though that's all beside the point because I still stay the June 3rd proposal is toast...

But what if I'm wrong? What if the clouds part, a light from the heavens comes down and the thing passes in one day with a 2/3 majority of both houses of the legislature? What then?

Well then, I guess we'd have an actual primary election (assuming someone contributes $12 million and it doesn't get tangled in the courts). If current polls are to be believed it wouldn't substantially change the delegate margin in either direction. Even ex-Michigan Governor and Clintonista extraordinare Jim Blanchard - who just a month or so ago lampooned the idea of a re-vote as "un-American" and something they'd do in the former Soviet Union - says the primary is unlikely to have much real effect. The chief concern to Obama, of course, isn't really delegates. It's that Clinton might win and the resulting chatter from the cable TV hairdos might lead superdelegates to go to the convention and render meaningless six months of primaries and caucuses.

I don't buy it. If the convention were on June 15th, maybe. But it's in August...and the hairdos will have long since had their short attention span diverted by other new and exciting puppy dog and missing attractive white women memes. And come August, Obama will still have the most pledged delegates and most likely the popular vote too. Michigan or no Michigan, that's still a strong position to be in.

And then there's the possibility that Obama might actually win in Michigan (again, in the unlikely event of a water landing or legislature-enacted state-run/privately funded primary). In spite of what Mark Penn and the micro-targeting-obsessed consultant class might believe, Michigan is NOT Ohio. In fact we once briefly fought a war against Ohio! (Which we won, BTW. After all, we got the U.P. and its famous "Mystery Spot"!) Of course Michigan has its own set of variables, but by-in-large, I'd say our progressive tradition compares more to Minnesota or Wisconsin than Ohio. On top of that, new revelations that Hillary apparently lobbied on behalf of NAFTA would certainly not help her case here.  

If Obama did win Michigan, I have to believe that would effectively end the Clinton campaign - rather than having to drag it all the way to August and the convention. He could then finally turn his exclusive attention to John McCain (remember him?).

But, again...none of this matters because even with Obama's blessing, the June 3rd primary isn't going to happen. Perhaps there's still some glimmer of hope that a party-run affair can still be organized. But I wouldn' bet on it. With all of the foot-dragging...first from Clinton, now from Obama, the hour is late. Too bad. To paraphrase Marlon Brando: "we coulda been a contender!"
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How about say yes because he supports democracy (4.00 / 1)
and not this Machiavellian bs?

But I appreciate the candod that the "chief concern to Obama" is "that Clinton might win."

Which, is sad and pathetic and I cannot support someone in November who pushed for my disenfranchisement in March.

Michigan may very well be lost with this decision should Obama become the nominee.

Steve Pestka for Congress


I think you are mistaken (4.00 / 4)
There are far more people who aren't following this drama to the extent we are.  In fact many know next to nothing about it other than "it's a mess" and "they're trying to fix it".

Sure the more politically minded feel much differently but we are a minority.  A really small one.  Those who are not like us don't follow this stuff or care about it.  Know what they care about?  Who to vote for in November.  Some are pulling for one or the other Dem candidate too and those who tell me their choice have not one single time mentioned the candidate's role in the MI primary debacle as one of the reasons for their choice.  Considering they all tell me they prefer Obama (at least so far) it seems a safe assumption they don't give one wit about it.

So, I don't care how many times you post the same two or three phrases you have been posting lately Phil, the bulk of the voting public will never, ever, ever see this as you do.  Declaring otherwise, repeatedly (ad nauseum even!) will not change this.  I think there could possibly be a more substantial reaction should our delegates not get seated at convention so don't give up hope.  There may yet be some negative results in the GE due to this screw-up by MI's Dem leadership.  

Julie

To prepare for when your life flashes before your eyes, make sure it's fun to watch.


[ Parent ]
If this gets to Republicans and they reject... (4.00 / 2)
...Michigan Dems look like idiots.  All of 'em.  It instantly turns into a campaign issue:

"First, Democrats couldn't count their own votes!  Then, they wanted to cancel YOUR LOCAL school elections for party gain on short notice!  Remember that when you go to vote..."

But I'm sure Saul could spin this more evilly than I could.



my heads spinning (0.00 / 0)
More likely, "Republicans stood in the way of the democratic rights of Michiganders by playing politics with your vote."

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
That's a non-starter at this point (0.00 / 0)
Everyone knows that it was Democrats who ok'ed the initial January primary that led to their mess.  It'd be REAL hard to make this a Republican issue.  Republicans don't have to even VOTE against it.  They just need to sit around and do nothing and see if Michigan will pay attention.  Thus far, it's a tactic that's worked rather well for them (sadly).



[ Parent ]
Right... (4.00 / 1)
[sarcasm]
Because no one votes in school board elections anyway.
[/sarcasm]

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


[ Parent ]
you're seriously going to hang your hat (4.00 / 1)
on moving school board elections from May to August?

Just admit this is part of Obama's Politics of Cynicism and Personal Ambition.  Then state, that regardless, he's got a better chance of winning and likely will be a better President.  Supporting this just lowers credibilityu and, in the long-run, doesn't really help Obama or the MDP (if y'all are at all interested in that).

Steve Pestka for Congress


[ Parent ]
People don't vote in school elections... (0.00 / 0)
...but they sure resent when they perceive elections to be taken away from them.  I'm not the one hanging my hat on this...  Republicans will.


[ Parent ]
ugh, not taken away (4.00 / 1)
moved to August, which, frankly is a good idea as far as turnout and cost savings for the SOS. It's an idea that's been out there sometime and has nothing to do with the Hillary-Obama Wars.

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Permanently changing with weeks notice = taking away (0.00 / 0)
By introducing the issue into the legislation, they MADE it a point of contention.  Of course, they were probably trying to respond to clerks saying "no way could we do one in May and another in June", but their solution was more radical than just "move May election by a month, one-time only".  


[ Parent ]
These are NEXT YEAR'S school board elections (4.00 / 4)
No change to this year's they'd still take place in May, if that's when they are scheduled.  Beginning next year, the school boards would have to choose an August or November date.

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (0.00 / 0)
I could've sworn I read they were implementing that THIS year.  I'll eat my words on that point, if they were on paper.

So, there'd be elections in May AND June?  That's pretty toxic, logistically speaking.  And why add that school stuff to this bill?  If it's not taking effect as part of this immediate primary, it just confuses matters.


[ Parent ]
The Free Press reported that. (0.00 / 0)
They corrected it a day later.

[ Parent ]
Dude... (4.00 / 2)
Why the vitriol?

Do you want 4 more years of republicans?

And ditto what JNelson said. The voters I work with don't pay any attention to the primary, primary re-do or any spasms of the MDP. They are the folks who catch a minute of Headline News and consider themselves updated on current events.


[ Parent ]
Yup -- just like they did with the 2007 budget wrangle (4.00 / 1)
Remember Bishop refusing to skip his golf game or call a session during summer vacation?  Remember the Rep.(what's his name?) who toddled off to shoot critters at the North Pole?  

Somehow, all of that GOP game-playing & recalcitrance morphed into "a pox on both their houses" equal-opportunity blame in quite a bit of the media coverage.  


[ Parent ]
I have seen the light (4.00 / 4)
I am now more convinced than ever by people on both sides that the voters of Michigan will be so moved by the primary debacle that they will vote against Dems over all of the following issues:

1) War in Iraq
2) Health Care
3) Economy
4) War on Terror
5) Immigration
6) God, Gays and Guns

We have nothing left to do now but cower in fear over the coming avalanche of mean posts Sauli will leave here to taunt us with between Labor Day and the General Election.

God have mercy on our souls.


[ Parent ]
The next step? (0.00 / 0)
Obama has "lost" several news cycles because the Clinton camp has hammered and hammered this idea for a legislation-driven primary...which, for all the reasons Hazen mentioned was ALWAYS A NON-STARTER.

The calendar doesn't support it and the supermajorities required in both House and Senate were an all-but-impossible hurdle. And even if the heavens parted and the choirs of angels blessed this bill, it would still have faced funding hurdles, county clerk hurdles and guaranteed lawsuits from school boards upsset that their May elections got cancelled (among others).

So, with the legislative solution -- which was never truly viable except as a tool for Obama-bashing (and boy has it worked!) -- dead, it's time for the Obama riposte:

I'd like, hope, maybe even expect, that Obama will publicly offer $5 million or so to the MDP for the purpose of holding a party-run, privately-funded caucus -- with the proviso that the Clinton campaign matches the funds.

People loved the idea of a caucus last year, when it was the best alternative to the stupid January primary that got us into this mess in the first place.

So why not hold one in June? It wouldn't disrupt the school board elections, Republican mischief would be eliminated (no "Rush factor" swelling the Clinton vote, as may have happened in Mississippi), and it would still draw hundreds of thousands of Democrats, like every caucus held up 'til now has done.

So that's my thought: Obama offers $5 million for a caucus. What's the Clinton response?

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


Caucus (0.00 / 0)
Provided it's a  firehouse style caucus like Michigan typically has, I believe Clinton supports it.

People, especially those on the national level, don't seem to understand that they way we hold caucuses in Michigan is not like how they hold them in Iowa or some other states.

A Michigan caucus is a lot more like a weekend primary at limited polling sites than what happens in Iowa or Texas.

An MDP run caucus would make sense provided there's enough time to put it together.  I don't see why there wouldn't be.


[ Parent ]
the national media and blogosphere has just (0.00 / 0)
been flat out misinformed on this entire matter (and yes, Markos, I'm talking about you).

Steve Pestka for Congress

[ Parent ]
Totally agree with that...mostly (0.00 / 0)
The question is, who's been misinforming them?

Kos is Kos, nothing we can do there, but the media has been spoon-fed a metric ton of pabulum about this whole sorry affair.

They don't mind, because the contrived controversy over a plan that was never gonna fly builds up the horse race. The horse race means ratings.

One candidate benefits from all this; one doesn't.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


[ Parent ]
Actually (4.00 / 3)
Kos is reflective of the attitude the other 48 states have towards the big whine fest we have going on here in Michigan.

Almost ever state besides Florida doesn't give a damn about our current situation because we allowed it to happen to ourselves.

Some of the biggest whiners now were some of the biggest January primary pushers...and given the amount of inside party people who read and post at this blog, to suggest they didn't see this coming would be disingenuous.

So as far as the rest of America is concerned...it is up to us to fix this or suffer the consequences.

And I for one agree with them.

As I have posted numerous times before...

SUCK. IT. UP. MICHIGAN!


[ Parent ]
Tool for Obama-bashing? (0.00 / 0)
Obama isn't responsible for his actions?  Oy, the cultishness is overwhelming from some (others, have my highest respect).

If Obama wants a 2004-style caucus, let's hear it.  Otherwise, you hope is nothing but an attempt at distraction.

Steve Pestka for Congress


[ Parent ]
Cultishness? (4.00 / 1)
Cultishness?

I've been in favor of a caucus since last year. I even wrote Mark Brewer LIKE YOU SUGGESTED, trying to deter him from the circular firing squad called the Jan. 15 primary.

I'm sorry the Edwards campaign fizzled (due, in part, to his pulling his name from the Michigan ballot, perhaps?), but this head-first dive into the "Clinton good-Obama bad" dichotomy is getting to be downright unbecoming.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." ~ Harlan Ellison


[ Parent ]
read all my stuff (0.00 / 0)
and you'll see there is no "Hillary-good" in them.

I don't see this in a Hillary--Obama prism (or for that matter an Edwards prism, though I confess I don't even understand what you mean).  

I see it as a democracy--anti-democracy prism.

Look, I hope Obama does come out for a firehouse caucus.  I just want to vote.  And, if he does take your advice, as far as I'm concerned all will be forgiven.

See hp, it just isn't all black and white for all of us.  I've criticized HRC when she was on the wrong side of democracy, I'm criticizing Obama when he's on the wrong side of democracy.  I hope that said criticism plays some tiny, tiny role in getting him and Team Obama Michigan to change their minds on the primary or come out for a large firehouse caucus.

Steve Pestka for Congress


[ Parent ]
Republican Primary Exclusion (0.00 / 0)
Keep in mind that even if we have a Democratic Caucus rather than a primary, people who participated in the Republican primary would not be able to participate in the Democratic Caucus per DNR rules.  Nowhere in the United States can a voter participate in both the Democratic and Republican nominating contests for President.  This is part of the reason Mark Brewer and Carl Levin told Democrats to vote uncommitted if their preferred candidate was not on the Democratic ballot on January 15 rather than crossing over and boosting perceived Republican turnout.

[ Parent ]
Probably wouldn't be a factor (0.00 / 0)
http://blogs.abcnews.com/polit...

But given the unusual circumstances facing Michigan, a DNC official said a special appeal could be made to the rules committee to waive this rule.


[ Parent ]
Obama does not want a Michigan-stye caucus, it's too much like a real election. (2.50 / 2)


[ Parent ]
Twisted History (4.00 / 2)
I love the line in the diary that says, "I still retain this quaint notion - only recently subscribed to by Camp Hillary - that we ought to have a vote in Michigan with more than one major candidate on the ballot."

This truly is twisted history.  The line implies that Clinton and Clinton supporters once supported the idea of only having her on the ballot, as if Clinton tricked the other candidates into withdrawing.  Quite the opposite happened.  Granholm called all the candidates asking them not to take their names off the ballot.


now aiming at Clintonistas (4.00 / 2)
As I've said to the Obamaites, far better to admit reality and put the best possible face on it.  15 January was a clever powerplay that backfired because it wasn't well thought out and suggest that HRC has learned her lesson.

But defending 15 January is defending the indefencible.

Steve Pestka for Congress


[ Parent ]
Defending the Indefensible (4.00 / 2)
I supported the January 15 primary.  I still support the January 15 primary.  While I am open to holding a new caucus, unless that happens I support picking and seating Michigan's delegates based on the January 15 election.

My point in supporting the January 15 primary was to force the DNC to initiate real primary reform.  There was never any desire to see Obama or Edwards take their name off the ballot.  The belief all along was that the DNC would be forced to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida.  Most people still believe this will happen despite the rhetoric from the DNC.

For me, the success of Michigan holding a January 15 election depends on two things...

1.  The DNC seats Michigan's delegates.
2.  The DNC if forced to enact real primary reform that doesn't give preference to any particular states.

I think we're on track to accomplish both of those goals but it may be a year or two before we have an answer on the second one.

I understand the feelings of people who are angry about the January 15 primary because they didn't get to vote the for candidate for their choice.  They have a right to be angry but that anger should be focused on their candidate for removing their name, not at the state for putting the candidates in a difficult position.

No point in flaming me, this is an old issue now.  But, I believe holding a January 15 primary was clearly the right thing to do and I appreciate the courageous leadership of the majority of Democrats in the House, Senate, the MDP, the Governor and Senator Levin and Mrs. Dingell on this issue.  Ultimately, history will prove they and similar leaders in Florida made the right decision.

Phil, I understand and respect your postion on the January 15 primary.  It's consistent and still allows Michigan voters a roll.  What gets me are people who neither supported a January 15 primary nor a new election.  Bascially what they're saying is that Michigan voters shouldn't have a say in the Presidential nomination either before February 5 or after February 5.  How they can reasonably justify this position is beyond me.  Blaming people like Granholm who want to ensure Michigan voters have a say at some point is bizarre.


[ Parent ]
And by your support (0.00 / 0)
for seating Michigan even though we violated the rules...rules agreed to by our DNC delegation, you are undermining the chance for any meaningful primary reform in the future.

Until you take time to consider the unintended consequences of your actions, you will continue to dig that hole...

Plain and simple:

If the DNC allows Michigan and Florida to seat its delegates after violating the rules, they will be letting every state know that their are no repercussions for doing so.

Therefore, when we actually do come up with a primary calendar that is beneficial to the party and fair...

IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL BE FREE TO TELL US ALL TO GO TO HELL USING THE VERY SAME ARGUMENTS THAT PEOPLE HERE IN MICHIGAN USE TO JUSTIFY MICHIGAN'S IMPORTANCE IN THE GENERAL ELECTION!

For the love of God...at least acknowledge the potential consequences of an argument you are holding onto to retroactively absolve yourself of supporting a bad decision re: the January Primary.


[ Parent ]
The DNC (4.00 / 2)
I would be satisfied if the DNC issues a statement saying it can't seat Michigan's or Florida's delegates based on the results of the January elections because of the precedent it will cause and also acknowledges that the current primary system needs to be overhauled.  They don't even need to acknowledge their failures in creating the long bitterly contested primary season we are facing this year.  It would be great if they made that statement today and Michigan subsequently agreed to hold a caucus.  That's a win-win scenario most of us could live with.  What's happening right now, not seating our delegates and no positive statements made by the DNC toward reform, is a lose-lose scenario.

I don't know if you noticed or not, but New Hampshire did tell the DNC to go to hell this year by jumping ahead of it's already preferential date.  The DNC just chose not to implement any penalty.

Real reform is never easy nor painless.  It takes courage from leaders who have the fortitude to stand up to pessimists, loud mouthed idiots, and people looking to throw around criticism for personal advantage.  The January 15 priamry was the right thing to do.

In the end, the Michigan and Florida delegations will be seated based on the results of an actual vote and we will see substantial changes to the Democratic Presidential nomination process.  And that will be a victory for supporters of the January 15 primary, even if the January 15 results aren't used.


[ Parent ]
Not so fast ... taking the teeth out of the DNC's bite will mean an improved primary calendar. (4.00 / 1)
The DNC will have to make serious calendar changes when they realize they have become impotent and there is a chance in 2012 that many states will play loose with the rules as they stand now.

To regain control and governance, the DNC will make those primary calendar changes pretty darn fast.

Also, look for a serious discussion about the future of the super delegates.


[ Parent ]
Those are my two great hopes. (4.00 / 1)
While I was not a supporter of the January primary I refuse to squander energy and time on being angry about it or about this current do-over discussion.

It is my great hope things are worked out with Rules and the Credentials Committees in July and the end result bing, as you said:

1.  The DNC seats Michigan's delegates.
2.  The DNC if forced to admit the primary system is screwed up and enact real primary reform that doesn't give preference to any particular states.

I added the bolded part as you can see. ;-)

I realize that for the delegation to be admitted it would be done with the delegates allotted as they stood and were elected at the Congressional District Conventions.  I'm ok with that, there's not a huge disparity really and, Obama knew there was a risk involved.  Frankly, if he picks up all the uncommitted delegates (I believe he will) he pays a small price for the risk taken IMO.

Julie


To prepare for when your life flashes before your eyes, make sure it's fun to watch.


[ Parent ]
A Michigan Caucus (4.00 / 1)
I think it's still too early to give up on holding an MDP run caucus.  If Obama's big hold-up is including his supporters who voted Republican on January 15, let's just have a simple pledge saying that caucus participants are Democrats.  I don't believe funding for a caucus is an issue anymore.

[ Parent ]
Not enough time, it took 8 months of prep in 2004. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Clinton Surges Ahead in New Poll (4.00 / 1)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/200...

"Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has moved into a significant lead over Barack Obama among Democratic voters, according to a new Gallup poll.

The March 14-18 national survey of 1,209 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters gave Clinton, a New York senator, a 49 percent to 42 percent edge over Obama, an Illinois senator. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points."


Rasmussen and CNN show Obama (0.00 / 0)
http://www.rasmussenreports.co...

In the race for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, Obama now leads Clinton 47% to 42%. Yesterday, Obama led 45% to 44%

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITI...

Fifty-two percent of registered Democrats questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say the senator from Illinois is their choice for president, with 45 percent supporting Clinton.

The bigger trend in all these polls is that both candidates fighting each other helps McCain.


[ Parent ]
Your poll is not valid (4.00 / 2)
One thing they teach you in research analysis is to look at the audience that was polled to determine if the statistics are valid.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted by telephone March 14-16, with 1,019 Americans questioned, including 463 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or independents who lean Democratic.

In the poll you quoted from, less than half of these people were Democrats! I'm sorry, but that is not an accurate way to count how Democrats are going to vote in this or any other election. The only thing that this poll shows is that Independents and Republicans like Obama better than Hillary. "Oooo, big surprise!"

CNN (who obviously knows better) should be ashamed of itself for publishing this unscientifically based garbage.

Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the back of the poor. People who don't have lobbyists or clout.


[ Parent ]
Yeah (2.50 / 2)
the only valid polls are the one's that show Clinton ahead...

Just like the only states that count are the one she won.

I love this part especially:

In the poll you quoted from, less than half of these people were Democrats! I'm sorry, but that is not an accurate way to count how Democrats are going to vote in this or any other election. The only thing that this poll shows is that Independents and Republicans like Obama better than Hillary. "Oooo, big surprise!"

Now watch her twist herself into gymnastic like logic twist to explain why this makes Obama unelectable in the General Election.

Do you guys even read your past posts to ensure logical consistency?


[ Parent ]
Mark Penn suddenly finds polls important again (4.00 / 1)
news at eleven.

[ Parent ]

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