Good news, bad news: an op-ed from The New York Times, annotated
As an aside, in my hat as co-founder of The Denver Group, it is because of the problems of confusions potentially created by stories like this that we are working hard to run ads that make clear the facts and the best reasons we have for why the DNC should not simply place Senator Clinton's name on a symbolic roll call ballot, but should make sure her name is in nomination giving the delegates to the convention a genuine opportunity to elect her the Party's nominee. For more information about The Denver Group go here; to donate go here.
Calling All Votes
NEARLY everyone in the Democratic Party seems to think that officially entering Hillary Clinton’s name into a roll-call vote for the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention would be a dangerous show of disunity. [I know of hundreds of Democrats who have contributed to The Denver Group and hundreds more who have written in support of our efforts, either directly communicating to me or via blogging. So saying "nearly everyone" in the Democratic Party holds the view stated here is misleading. The Denver Group specifically argues and has been arguing since June 24th that the only route to "unity" would be by placing Senator Clinton's name in nomination and then holding a roll call ballot that is not just symbolic.] It’s true that having America watch as some portion of Mrs. Clinton’s 1,640 pledged delegates thumb their noses at Barack Obama would disrupt the party’s vision of a carefully scripted Denver love-in. [It is insulting to all involved to suggest that delegates voting their constituents' preferences and superdelegates voting their consciences would be "thumb[ing] their noses at Barack Obama". Delegates would simply be exercising their responsibilities and rights according to rules and procedures promulgated by The Democratic Party itself. I do not see how that can be construed as an insult to any Democrat, including Senator Obama.] But finding a constructive way for Mrs. Clinton’s seriously aggrieved loyalists to channel their anger and disappointment could wind up being the path of less destruction for Mr. Obama’s campaign. [Framing the situation this way is both misleading and insulting. Characterizing Clinton delegates as "aggrieved loyalists" misses the point. Delegates are people who go to great effort to secure a place at the convention. This year delegates followed the rules in the Call to the Convention in order to serve their Party. Wanting the Democratic Party to abide by the rules in that same document has nothing to with loyalties to one candidate or another, or with being aggrieved, angry or disappointed. It has to do with a demand for integrity from the Party's leadership, which has done so much already to damage the integrity of the Party they purport to advance.] Plus, it’s the right thing to do. [True. And that should be the beginning and the end of the argument.]
You don’t have to be a die-hard Clintonite, or even much of a feminist, to be moved by the significance of her presidential campaign. In 1972, the Democratic presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm made history by having her 151.95 delegates entered into the convention record. Mrs. Clinton amassed more than 10 times that number. Her achievement deserves an official salute. ["Her achievement" deserves more than a "salute". The Democratic Party and the country as a whole deserve an opportunity to see Senator Clinton emerge as the head of the ticket for The Democratic Party. This means nominating speeches on behalf of Senator Clinton, her name in nomination alongside Senator Obama's, and a real roll call vote.]
Symbolic gestures and signs of respect always hold a larger meaning for the campaign that came in second. [Define "second". Neither candidate reached the end of the primary season with enough pledged delegates to automatically become The Democratic Party nominee. Senator Obama arrives with 49 more pledged delegates, Senator Clinton arrives ahead in the popular vote and having won more states with more electoral votes in November.] More than a few of Mrs. Clinton’s devotees, including plenty headed to Denver this month, are in need of catharsis and a bit of closure. They remain convinced that their gal got a raw deal, that she was treated unfairly by the news media, that she was cheated out of her Florida and Michigan delegates by hostile power brokers like Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, that she was a victim of sexism, that the historic nature of her candidacy was callously dismissed in all the hullabaloo over the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s, and on and on and on. [This entire passage is insulting to all Democrats whether they support Senator Clinton or not, and it is irrelevant to the alleged point of this op-ed. If the point is that it is "the right thing to do" to take Senator Clinton's candidacy seriously, then it makes no sense to paint her supporters as anything other than loyal Democrats with good reason to want the DNC to provide equal opportunity to both candidates who reached the end of the primary and caucus rounds with real claims to the ultimate nomination.]
Some of these allegations ring truer than others. But many of Mrs. Clinton’s supporters believe them intensely enough to want to make trouble for Mr. Obama. [This is not at all about Senator Obama. This is about producing an electable candidate in November and in preserving the legitimacy of The Democratic Party.] Discouraging Mrs. Clinton’s name from being entered into a roll-call vote would give her legions yet one more opportunity to feel that their candidate had been snubbed.
Giving them the chance to see their beloved candidate honored in a highly public forum could, just maybe, help release a little steam from the pressure cooker. Beyond that, there could be other, more direct benefits for Mr. Obama’s candidacy. [Again, the point of seeking a serious roll call vote is not Senator Obama, his candidacy, helping or hindering it.]
A roll-call vote for Mrs. Clinton could help Mr. Obama look magnanimous instead of messianic. [While I think how Senator Obama looks is irrelevant to the question of whether a meaningful roll call vote would be good for The Democratic Party, I can assure you that unless the roll call vote is meaningful, with Senator Clinton's name in nomination and a real opportunity for her to become the Party's candidate, the Party and Senator Obama will appear crooked.] Fair or not, the man has earned himself a reputation as arrogant. These days, John McCain’s campaign spends much of its time watching for the tiniest show of self-importance by Mr. Obama to exploit. By making a grand gesture, inviting (even publicly urging) Mrs. Clinton to sign the (already circulating) petition to have her name submitted for nomination would help Mr. Obama look like a swell guy.
Yes, we would all be reminded of how close the Democratic race for president was when, on the convention floor, delegation after delegation rose to cast its votes. (A few die-hards for Mrs. Clinton might even get mouthy.) But in the end, the tally would indicate that Mr. Obama won. He beat Mrs. Clinton, the inevitable nominee who drove far-more-experienced politicians than Mr. Obama from the race before it even began, and who beat every other guy in the race. [No, neither Senator Obama nor Senator Clinton beat anybody for the nomination during the primary and caucuses. The only way to legitimately win the nomination now is to have the delegates and superdelegates actually elect a candidate to head the Democratic ticket for the general election. Whoever wins a genuine convention vote will be the person who legitimately will have won that opportunity and honor.]
He did it. [No. Wrong. See above.] And he could demonstrate that he is now so comfortable with his victory that he is willing to let Mrs. Clinton tout her achievement as well. (Better still, the delegate total for Mr. Obama would almost certainly be higher than it stood at the end of the primaries, because many of Mrs. Clinton’s superdelegates — and probably even a few of her pledged delegates — would decide to cast ballots for Mr. Obama.) [In the alternative, many of Senator Obama's superdelegates and probably even a few of his pledged delegates might well decide to cast ballots for Senator Clinton.] Sure, some portion of Mrs. Clinton’s delegates will never be satisfied with any gesture. They are determined to sink Mr. Obama in the hopes that their candidate can come back and win this thing in 2012. [This is not about 2012, this is about electing a Democrat to the White House as soon as possible, which cannot be soon enough, in my opinion, given the utter failure of the current two-term Republican administration.]
But the kamikaze cohort is just one, admittedly very noisy, subset of a larger pool of wounded supporters. The trick is to find a big, public way to separate the zealots from those who just want a concerted effort by the party and its candidate to show a scrupulous commitment to respecting every vote cast. [One might start by contacting Marc Rubin or me who have been working gangbusters with the help of those hundreds of supporters of The Denver Group in the name of protecting every vote cast, both during the primaries and caucuses and at the Convention itself.]
Is this desire reasonable? Sensible? Logical? Maybe not. But in presidential campaigns, reason and logic rarely carry the day. [Agreed. If it did, the DNC would have long ago announced that the primary and caucus results were inconclusive and planned for a genuine, authentic, meaningful roll call vote in Denver.]