Courtesy of Senator Obama: Another "Checkers" Moment
The trick Senator Obama played today reminded me specifically of the trick Dick pulled when he gave his now infamous "Checkers" speech.
Let me explain.
First, Senator Obama's trick:
After months of stalemating any representation of millions of voters from Florida and Michigan and then seeking a ruling that treated the voters of Florida as half-persons and the voters of Michigan as essentially pawns whose actual votes mattered not at all, today Senator Obama wrote a letter to the DNC's Credentials Committee Chairs, saying that now suddenly he has had a change of heart and wishes it to be known that, with his warm personal regards, he would like the Credentials Committee to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations at the upcoming convention in Denver. (You can read the letter here.)
Senator Obama probably thinks this move will win him favor from the voters of those states and voters everywhere who were offended by the DNC committee meeting in May. At that meeting the Rules and Bylaws Committee (different committee than the Credentials Comittee) made every delegate from Michigan and Florida count for only half, and then on top of that, awarded a large portion of the Michigan half-delegates - and 4 add-on delegates who were selected by Michigan voters to represent Senator Clinton - to Senator Obama, who, by his own choice, never even ran in the Michigan primary.
If Senator Obama were interested in acting honestly and honorably he would encourage the Credentials Committee Chairs to seat the Michigan delegation as the people of Michigan voted: a majority for Senator Clinton and a significant minority for undecided. Instead, his letter plays a trick: it pretends to show newfound respect for rank and file voters and the delegates they elect to represent them, when in fact Senator Obama continues to mock the most basic principles of democracy - even decency, in my opinion - by refusing to acknowledge the absurdity of taking votes or delegates from a state in which he, Senator Obama, did not even run.
Second, Richard Nixon's trick, played in 1952:
At the 1952 Republican national convention, young Senator Richard M. Nixon was chosen to be the running mate of presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Nixon had enjoyed a spectacular rise in national politics. Elected to Congress in 1946, he quickly made a name for himself as a militant anti-Communist while serving on the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1950, at age 38, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and became an outspoken critic of President Truman's conduct of the Korean War, wasteful spending by the Democrats, and also alleged Communists were in the government.
But Nixon's rapid rise in American politics came to a crashing halt after a sensational headline appeared in the New York Post stating, "Secret Rich Men's Trust Fund Keeps Nixon in Style Far Beyond His Salary." The headline appeared just a few days after Eisenhower had chosen him as his running mate. Amid the shock and outrage that followed, many Republicans urged Eisenhower to remove Nixon from the ticket before it was too late.
Nixon, however, in a brilliant political maneuverer, took his case directly to the American people via the new medium of television in a nationwide hookup. With his wife sitting stoically nearby, Nixon offered an apologetic explanation of all of his finances, including the now-famous lines regarding his wife's "respectable Republican cloth coat" and the tale of a little dog named Checkers given as a present to his young daughters. "...I want to say right now that regardless of what they say, we're going to keep it." (source)
With his talk of cloth coats and little dogs, Tricky Dick fooled the American public - and the RNC and Dwight Eisenhower - into thinking he was a humble, honorable man.
Today's voters - if not today's DNC - may be a little cannier. They may catch the trick Senator Obama has tried to play today, pretending to respect the franchise while simultaneously refusing to take its results seriously. One can hope.