Thursday, March 06, 2008

Progressive Update--03/06/2007

Good/Bad News—The Democratic nominee for Presidential candidate goes on. There are some benefits of this. Some Dems note that the race is news, and there is no such thing as bad media attention. Others note that the country has not decided which Democrat they want to run against McCain, and they need more time to hear more from each candidate.

The other camp sees disadvantages to the continued primary contest. Especially the Ohio contest showed significant negative campaigning, and while some consider this as beneficial to the ultimate candidate (it hardens them), most feel that it shows a bad side of the party. The longer that this goes on, the more analysis and attention will be paid to the ‘superdelegates’ and the issue of how to treat voters/delegates from Michigan and Florida. While drama (of a late August decision on the nominee) is exciting, it certainly seems to make it more difficult for the ultimate nominee to wage a two month campaign against McCain, who has four times as much time. Another issue is that a continued primary contest sucks dollars from Democratic donors, to fund Obama’s and Clinton’s primary campaigns, money that is far better spent against McCain.

The Michigan and Florida issue is tricky—if the national committee tells you that you need to wait until Super Tuesday or later, or else your delegates won’t count, why would you go ahead and hold it in January? Well Michigan and Florida did. Now what? I think that you can not count the delegates that were selected through breaking the rules, as it would reward the rule-breakers (rules which MI and FL agreed to over a year earlier), but MI and FL can hold a new primary/caucus. In a contorted manner, this will accomplish what each state initially wanted to achieve—having their primary matter (but by being late, not early). Regardless, a ‘do-over’ is more complicated than it first sounds … notes “Lurking in the background are the delegations from Michigan and Florida, which will not be seated under party rules because they scheduled their votes before Feb. 5, in clear violation of party rules. The governor of Florida (and Vice Presidential hopeful) Charlie Crist, has said he would not be against having a new Florida primary. Of course when a Republican governor offers the Democrats a tasty treat, one should look at all the details to see exactly what he has in mind. Is he doing this to sow discord among the Democrats? Does he think Clinton would win it and be the weaker candidate? What's the catch? He wants the DNC to pay for it. It is estimated that a primary would cost $25 million. Thus what he is really proposing is draining $25 million from the DNC warchest and probably having the weaker general election candidate win it. Sounds like an excellent plan (if you are a Republican governor hoping to be tapped as Vice President). The Democrats could hold caucuses in Florida and Michigan instead of primaries. Caucuses are paid for by the parties but they are MUCH cheaper. The problem with caucuses is getting both Clinton and Obama to agree. Caucuses are sparsely attended and the candidate with the better organization usually wins them. Obama has won nearly all the caucuses so far, so Clinton would prefer primaries. Politics does not have a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get interface like modern word processing programs. You have to parse every sentence very carefully and know the context to see what they are up to.”

The super-delegate ‘issue’ is quite touchy—should they follow their heart, their state’s popular vote, their state’s pledge delegates, or what? I believe that they should, in the full light of day (as opposed to in a dark smoke-filled room in Denver) all shift to the campaign with the most delegates when the pledged delegate race is decided (now, after Pennsylvania, after Michigan/Florida—I don’t know when). This will accomplish the goal of ‘ending the madness’, helping the 2nd place candidate see that the gig is up (as Huckabee finally did on Tuesday night), and permitting the whole Democratic party to get behind the clear, cleanly selected nominee.

US Congress—While the Democratic Presidential candidate race has been in the headlines, there has been a very good development in the Congressional races. The Congress has instituted a two-year limit on departing Congressmen, whereby they can’t lobby during their first two years out of Congress—unless they retire by this November. As a result, there is an exodus from the House and Senate, not surprisingly of Republicans. This opens the door wide to strong gains by Democrats in both the House and Senate this year, and that doesn’t even include the Republicans who are leaving due to scandals. January 2008 may not only bring a Democratic White House, it can also bring a far more Democratic Congress (perhaps even enough to break Republican filibusters). Five Republican Senators are retiring, and six incumbent Republican Senators are ‘vulnerable’, according to

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