Well, the DNC’s rules committee “settled” the issues of Michigan and Florida. After a couple of hours of public testimony and debate, followed by two hours of closed door internal meetings, the committee passed two resolutions to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida. A total of three motions were proposed, two passed. The Michigan vote was close, passing by a single vote 19-8 (a 2/3 majority needed to pass).
C-SPAN covered the whole thing, cutting away to the Shuttle launch, and replaying the weekly radio addresses during the lunch recess. C-SPAN is nice when it comes to these things, as it isn’t burdened by a plethora of commentators and other talking heads. Nor does it have any sort of agenda. You just get the events as they unfold, live in this case.
The most articulate and passionate speaker of the day was Se. Carl Levin of Michigan. You could tell he really wanted to lay into the committee in no uncertain terms, but recognized that doing so would serve no purpose. But there were times when he became flushed, holding in his ire, and couching his words in very delicate political terms. Representing the Michigan Democratic Party at these hearings, he tried to be Solomon, and split the differences between the Obama and Clinton camps (Levin is an uncommitted super delegate). In the end, it was this proposal that ws passed by the committee.
This was a tale of two very different situations, which the committee had to deal with, but tried to use the same solution to both. Florida was the “easiest” of the two to deal with. In the case of Florida, all the candidates were on the ballot, and results were pretty straight forward (unusual for Florida). The one proposal that failed, was to fully seat the Florida delegation with full voting rights. This failed the committee vote by a fair margin. The second proposal, which passed nearly unanimously (one member was not allowed to vote being from Florida), will seat the full Florida delegation with each delegate getting 1/2 vote each.
The Michigan vote was far more contentious, with some obvious, and hard battle lines being drawn. As I said previously, Carl Levin made a very good argument in his testimony. He really wanted to take the committee to task, and did so, but had to manage his words carefully, other wise I think he’d have gone off on them with language inapprorpriate for a Bangkok water front bar. Levin’s main point was that New Hampshire broke the rules, the committee gave it a waiver, then denied that same waiver to Michigan (and Florida). He fully acknowledged the problems and flaws with Michigan’s primary, but argued that it should not be used to penalize the 600,000+ voters in that primary.
He offered up a “compromise solution” to the committee, that essentially split the difference between the argumenst made by the Obama and Clinton Camps, Clinton would get 69 delegates, Obama 59. Clinton’s people argues that Hillary should get 73 delegates from Michigan, based on the final tallies, with Obama getting 55. Obama’s camp wanted the delegates split 50-50, with each getting 64. This was a bit of a hedge bet on Levin’s, and the Michigan Democratic Party’s part. They can’t go too far a field from the primary results, but they didn’t want to tick off either campaign. The problem I have with this, is that the Mochigan Party went outside of the primary results to arrive at it’s proposal. I think this sets a dangerous precedent, one that could be used to over rule the will of the voters. It’s just as dangerous as activist judges who legislate from the bench.
When the compromise solution came up for debate in the committee, the fractures with in the DNC were evident. Harold Ickes, Hillary’s agent on site, was very hard in his criticism of the compromise, and “reserved the right to take this to the credentials committee,” should the vote go against Hillary, which it did. Another committee member, from North Carolina (whose name escapes me ATM, and I apologze for that), spoke directly to Mr. Ickes comments, and showed that the DNC is not nearly as united as they would like to show people. He spoke in terms rising from the Civil Rights movement, and was a decalred Obama supporter. It was eloquent for what it was, but went further to illustrate the deep divisions with in the DNC more than it did to heal those rifts. Even if Hillary should prevail in the Credntials committee, there are some fracture with in her own camp, with at least one avowed supporter having “crossed lines” to vote for the compromise. Mr. Fowler better be ware, lest he end up like Vince Foster.
The real fun in this came form the audience. Between the various partisan supporters cheering and booing the various proposals, and the interruptions of oppsoing speakers, they got under the committee’s collective skin. At least a dozen times, chants of “Denver! Denver!” errupted from the audience. At the end, the doors to the hall had to be closed so that the committee members at the far end of the tables could hear the final vote tallies. There should be some interesting…”exchanges”…at the Democratic National Convention.
This will not be 1968, but it could still be very messy, and cost the Democrats the White House. Hillary and her supporters are going to the mat with this, and is not going to go quietly. In doing so she will cause some severe, and perhaps irreperable divisions wiht in the party. From what I’ve seen, and saw at the rules committee meeting, this may fall along generally racial lines. At least that’s how things are shaping up on the surface. I think that there are some deeper fractures, ones that have building for several years now, which will open up as the season continues, which will over take, and make irrelevant the racial aspect.