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Thursday- Taylor’s only half right

Last night, I fell asleep to Taylor Marsh. I know, I know, a lot of you find it hard to believe that Taylor’s Midwestern Missouri edgy voice could be comforting and soothing enough to put anyone to sleep but I actually love Taylor’s straightforward honesty. My anxiety is relieved when I know what my parameters are, what my choices are and I have an idea of how high the mountain is. It means I can plan better. Uncertainty is a killer in terms of planning.

So, I was listening to Taylor last night relating the challenges that Clinton faces in getting the nomination. And yes, I do believe that it will be difficult. But one thing I have noticed even Taylor succumbing to is the notion that the nomination will not be legitimate if it is decided on the basis of Superdelegates. This illustrates perfectly why well crafted and often repeated memes are so insidious. Even people who should know better start to believe them.

So, let me fill you in on what little I know based on limited personal experience. Just before superduper Tuesday, my company invited representatives from both state parties to visit our facilities in order to define what the 2008 presidential primary season was all about. The representative from the Democratic side was Joseph Cryan, the NJ Democratic chair. He presented the Obama, Clinton and Edwards campaigns in succinct terms and tried to be objective. He said he was a superdelegate and he was pledged to Hillary Clinton. But I do have to give him credit for being very fair to Edwards and Senator Obama and all in all, he was very enthusiastic about the party and how we were all rallying around two talented yet unconventional candidates. He represented the party well.

But there was one thing that he did say at the end, and you have to remember that Super Tuesday was still about a week away when he said this. He said that he expected a brokered convention. This was before Obama tore through the mountain west in February, piling up caucus after caucus win, before WI, before TX and OH. Cryan was predicting a brokered convention.

Now, how did he know that in advance? Maybe he’s just been in politics long enough that he could count the votes in all of the states and he knew that Obama would be successful in tying things up. Maybe he was privy to the machinations of the DNC to rig the primaries for the anti-Clinton candidate. Maybe it was because he knew that leaving MI and FL out was going to force it to the floor. But for whatever reason, he sounded pretty sure of the broker scenario before SuperTuesday. It is likely that other superdelegates saw the writing on the wall too. And at no time during his presentation did he ever suggest that this was an illegitimate abuse of the primary system that would be rejected by the voters. In 2008, that is the system that we were given, our parameters. When there are not enough votes on either side to win outright, the superdelegates will make the final call. And they will do so based on a number of factors, some of which we don’t understand but we can probably predict.

And here is a clue as to how that superdelegate math will go to Hillary: the new governor of NY has to cut $350 million dollars from the school budget. He says that the teachers and the unions will have to adjust to a new reality. There was another news piece this morning from NYC about Bear Stearns employees facing an uncertain future. And this effects not only the brokers and bankers but the limo drivers. Plus, there will be cutbacks to community policing in the City. Do you know that a cop in NYC starts at a salary of $25,000/year and after five years is only making $59,000? To someone in Alabama, that might sound like a lot of money but to someone working in Manhattan, that’s about enough to cover rent and not much else. You can’t have a family on that salary. And sure, the crime rate is steady in Manhattan but it’s on the rise in Staten Island.

Bethany McClean of Fortune Magazine and author of The Smartest Guys in the Room, a book about the Enron scandal, was interviewed on NPR this morning and described the shaky ground that the market is on right now. They are in over their heads and are facing a financial model that none of them have ever seen before. This is part of the reason that Paterson had to make such drastic cuts in the budget. He sees the quicksand that our markets are on and knows that he has to get out in front of it before the crisis hits full force. Folks, it sounds like it is going to be bad. When you cut $350M out of the school budget in a place the size of NYC, that hurts.

That pain is going to spread across the border to neighboring NJ, where the state is already $34Billion in debt. This is a state cursed with a regressive property tax on homeowners. We pay for everything, businesses pay very little. Everything, from schools and roads and bridges and pensions for state employees gets dumped on the hapless senior on the fixed income and the first time homeowners and the single parents who live in modest townhouses, like yours truly. Our taxes go up every year to maintain the schools we have, overcrowded and old, while our federal tax dollars, taken from those of us with the nicest salaries in the country, are siphoned off to greedy contractors in Iraq and cronies of Bush in Mississippi who reward their friends after Katrina rather than the people whose houses were destroyed. Meanwhile, our salaries make us ineligible for SCHIP when we become unemployed. People who get laid off here have to worry about paying the mortgage and the ridiculous property taxes and whether they can afford the sky high COBRA bill for their kids. The cost of living here is very high even on those nice salaries. My family from PA is always stunned by the price of food here and the cost of housing. We think it’s normal but they can see that you can only live a modest middle class lifestyle on less than $100K/year.

And California is facing it’s own woes with the housing crisis. The housing market is falling though the basement in Sacramento. The crunch is coming to all of us. The dollar is falling, oil costs are rising, everything is more expensive and the financial market is bracing.

The tax situation alone puts NJ on very precarious footing with the Democratic party. We have a strong anti-tax contingent here and who can blame New Jerseyans? No one has seriously tried to fix the problem. There are pockets of deep red in this state that prevents it from being fixed. Wealthy Republicans will never agree to higher taxes on themselves so it keeps getting dumped on those squeezed the most. And Corzine knows what happened to the last governor who advocated for a tax increase on those who could afford it. Florio was a one term governor, followed by two terms of Christine Todd Whitman who proceeded to give away the store. If anyone thinks that this state wouldn’t go for John McCain in the fall if Obama is on the ticket, they’re crazy. I could see a strong anti-tax message swaying a lot of people here who are sick of Democrats being unable to fix the frittering away of our federal dollars and sticking Jerseyans with incredibly burdensome state taxes.

So, what does this have to do with Hillary and a brokered convention? Well, I don’t think the states that have voted for Hillary during the primary season are going to give a flying f%^& what the Big Boyz at DailyKos say or what Nancy Pelosi says about the legitimacy of the brokered convention scenario. I think we are going to be mad as hell that Obama is sitting on MI and FL so that he can take Colorado and Utah and Wyoming and Idaho and give them front row seats at the convention. No, I can not see that the superdelegates from the states that are going to be hurting the most in the next few years are going to put up with that $%$#. Can you?

So, yes, I know that the meme is out there and it looks grim. And I know that Taylor Marsh is only saying what she thinks is best and she knows what she is talking about. But this is as David Paterson said yesterday a “new reality” that we are all going to have to adjust to. The convention will be brokered by the superdelegates. This is what they were created for. It doesn’t matter how many states you have. It matters a great deal *which* states you have. The superdelegates are legitimate and would be necessary even if MI and FL were securely in the hands of the person who won them fair and square.

Now, all *you* need to do is keep repeating that message until everyone gets it and the Big Boyz understand that we are not backing down.

From Jawbone: Here is a page about the history of superdelegates in the Democratic party.

30 Responses

  1. The super delegates were put in place to handle not only a brokered convention, but to try to waylay the Dem Party going overboard on a candidate who would flame out in the general election. It was part of going with proportional voting, which makes getting to a majority more difficult if there are somewhat equally matched candidates in the primary.

    Also, after the first vote on the floor, if no candidate reached the majority of delegates, all delegates are essentially unpledged and may vote as they see fit.

    At least that’s my understanding–anyone with more info and perhaps actual convention experience?

  2. I’ve been saying for weeks that the election won’t be settled until the convention is August.

    All the people crowing that it’s virtually impossible for Hillary to overtake Obama keep forgetting that he can’t win it without the Super Delegates either.

    If the SD’s were obligated to vote for the leader in pledged delegates, why are they necessary? Just declare the leader the winner.

    Which, of course, is what the Obamanation wants to do.

    As the last couple weeks have shown, we need to wait for the democratic process to play out.

    Imagine of the Rev. Wright scandal broke in October when we were stuck with a nominee.

  3. You are like the person on an airplane who puts on the oxygen mask first and then helps the person next to them. Thank you. The brokered convention concept has some people in a tizzy. Your clearly reasoned analysis really has given me a new insight. Okay. It will be dramatic and scary. But, ultimately Hillary will win. The more she stands fast, the more and more I like her. I’m learning from her. The SDs are watching it too. It is a long way to August but you know I think the landscape is going to look very different. People are already tuning out the MSM and the bloger boyz. The ABC story on Hillary’s WH calendar has P/O everyone I work with this morning. A number of these people aren’t very political to begin with. One actually said, “they’re not going to start this s— again are they”. Hillary is looking better and better in her ability to stand firm against the s—. That is why people are turning to her. Hell, we need a fighter. And the people know it.

  4. http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18072/history_of_superdelegates_in_the_democratic_party.html?breadcrumb=%2F

    Interesting piece about the history of the super delegates (who were given that name by the media, not the Dem Party).

  5. riverdaughter- great post!

    jawbone- interesting article, thanks for the link..
    Teddy..still up to his old tricks. POS.

  6. Well, I am black, and I can’t relate to a “black experience” that shields and explains old-style black ministers who rant and rave about supposed racial differences and about how America ought to be damned. I long ago broke away from all associations and churches that preached the gospel of hate and ethnic divisiveness — including canceling my membership in 100 Black Men of America Inc., when they refused my motion to admit women and whites. They still don’t. I was not going to stay in any group that assigned status or privileges of membership based solely on race or gender.

  7. From commenter at Taylor Marsh today (link to follow), this from Philly Daily News (and I’m not familiar with the columnist, so have not vetted him for veracity, bias, etc.):

    We thought we heard this, but we wanted to go back and listen to the clip of Sen. Barack Obama on 610 WIP this morning to be sure.

    610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi asked Obama about his Tuesday morning speech on race at the National Constitution Center in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice. Obama told Cataldi that “The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know (pause) there’s a reaction in her that doesn’t go away and it comes out in the wrong way.”

    We doubt this story will have legs, but wonder if Hillary Clinton referred to a “typical black person,” would we ever hear the end of it?

  8. A lot of these people who are worrying about a brokered convention are really young. They have no sense of the history of Democratic conventions. I think it will be exciting to have something actually happen at the convention instead of a bunch of preplanned pap.

    I honestly don’t think Obama is in a comfortable position at all, and the evidence for that is the way he and his campaign are acting. They do not act like frontrunners who have th nomination all sewn up. Frontrunners don’t risk going negative and they don’t risk disenfrachising primary voters.

    The recent polls look very good for Hillary. She is leading by 26 in PA and by double digits in WV. She trails by only a few points in NC. If Edwards endorses her, she might even win NC. I don’t know about Indiana, but if Hillary continues winning, and has the momentum going into the convention, she is going to be the nominee. I don’t care what Dean, Brazile, Pelosi, Kerry, and Kennedy say, there are a lot of Democrats out here in the country that want a winner and they aren’t going to fall for a bunch of ragtime about how the pledge delegates have to take precedence over the judgement of rational human beings.

    This is just getting interesting. And don’t forget that Hillary is at her best when her back is against the wall. She doesn’t quit. “She’s a sticker!”
    (Thanks katybird for my new slogan).

  9. jawbone,
    Obama told Cataldi that “The point I was making ”

    gee, how about that, another
    What Obama Really Meant (WORM) , moment.

    Man, with a mouth so full of words, you’d think he’d get it right the first time huh?

  10. jawbone,

    The clip is linked in that gossip column. I’m not at home right now, and I couldn’t get the clip to play on this computer I’m using. I hope Taylor Marsh front pages it. Does Barack really believe that there is something called a “typical white person,” and that these people get nervous when they see someone strange on the street? That needs to go viral.

    Not only that, but Obama lied about his grandmother in his speech. I’m not sure where I read it–maybe No Quarter?–but in his book Obama describes the incident with his grandmother. She was afraid of a black homeless person who threatened her and would have mugged her if a bus had not come along and scare him away. That was the black man that she wanted to avoid! Obama lies as easily as Bush does.

  11. http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/3/20/13130/8225

    Obama is back to asking for 50/50 split in MI delegates.

    Running out the clock on a revote, and now back to the gimme approach.

    Can’t the DNC, Dr. Dean and others see what this is doing the democratic ideal of one person one vote?

    After this, I figure all the finally tuned ways in which some areas of a state get more delegates will also be challenged. This baroque assignment ofdelegate numbers based on who knows what criteria does not sit well. I’m sure there were good reasons (encouraging voting, rewarding heavily Democratic areas, etc.), but the whole thing is beginning to stink.

    I can’t imagine what it’s like right now to be a Democratic voter in MI or FL–I would be jumping out of my skin!

    This is ot right, it is not fair, and it must not stand.

    OK, now I have to get to work–and cool down. Will revisit when feeling more rational.

  12. I think the Obama campaign is using Karl Rove’s “The Math” to figure out their standing. They can’t win without superdelegates either, and I don’t see Obama as having a strong electability argument in the GE thanks to the Wright fiasco.

    We will see how Pennsylvania plays out, but the SD’s cannot ignore how Obama has lost every big state to Hillary. In fact, his wins have mostly been in caucuses and red states, which he would never carry in the general. (Utah and Kansas? Yeah, right.) How is that representative of a huge Obama movement that’s sweeping the nation?

    No, he can’t. But Hillary can, in my opinion. Hillary will wipe the floor with McCain in debates (she is excellent at that), and the fact that she is a Clinton will make people trust her with the economy, which will be the number one issue come November.

    Obama will be like a young fly biting a grizzled old elephant. McCain won’t even feel the nips on his tough hide.

  13. I broke bread with an old crony yesterday to catch up on several tectonic developments — including a Supreme Court decision that will leave pristine, progressive Washington with a Louisiana-style “op two” primary.

    Foremost in his mind was the Bear Stearns implosion and related collapse of the global credit structure. As he methodically developed the narrative — the Fed making the right moves to no avail, a Treasury Secretary who knows the Street and knows the game even if his President plays dumb, and working up to the November election context — I cut to the chase.


    “Exactly. Breadlines. It’s going to be a breadlines election.”

    We went on to size up the comparative advantages of various ticket combinations. (VP will matter.)

    His view is that this scenario makes Obama a non-starter. I’m not locked in to that conclusion, but a contrast of Hillary’s statement on Bear Stearns (nuts & bolts & who’s who) to Obama’s statement (finger-pinting and “inspiration”) certainly is surely bracing.

  14. Boston Boomer, if Obama’s point was that his grandmother is a “typical white person,” then what is Wright? Just a “typical black person”? “Typical black preacher”?


    And, having read what Obama wrote about his grandmother Dunham in his book Dreams of My Father, this is even more riduculous. He wrote that his grandmother said something about a black panhandler who persisted in asking for money and she feared he would have mugged her if the bus hadn’t come when it did.

    In the book, this did not seem to be her usual and customary reaction. Indeed, seeing her tell his grandfoather about it apparently shocked the young Obama.

    I have to read the book….

  15. March 20, 2008

    POLL: Rasmussen West Virginia
    Rasmussen Reports: West Virginia Clinton 55, Obama 27…

    March 20, 2008

    POLL: Franklin & Marshall Pennsylvania
    Franklin & Marshall College/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pennsylvania Clinton 51, Obama 35…

  16. jawbone, you gave me an idea. Just because the media calls them Superdelegates doesn’t mean I have to. Delegates are delegates and as Speaker Pelosi has said, this is a delegate race.

    I should think of a better label than “Superdelegate.” Stupordelegate? Superselect? Superfriends? Supercalifragilisticexp—nope, wait, the talking heads will need a teleprompter for that one, unless they sing, which is a sign of the apocalypse. It is so. Is so. Is so.

    Seriously, a better label may help remind people that this is how the system was designed. Nobody’s breaking any rules—these are the rules.

    So is there a way to counter this label? Is worth trying?

  17. “Worrying” about a brokered convention is just a way the Blog Boyz are trying to fight off Hillary. I swear it wasn’t so long ago that Chris Bowers and others were having a thrill go up there legs at the thought of a brokered convention. If I could get myself to go to the Blog Boyz sites I’d link there, but I’m sure you all could find what I’m talking about if you have no moral qualms about giving credibility to the BBz by frequenting their sites.

  18. jawbone:

    I made a long post yesterday on Obama’s attempt to destroy the Democratic party just for his own gain and I would call his 50/50 proposal “The Audacity of Thievery“.

  19. She was afraid of a black homeless person who threatened her and would have mugged her if a bus had not come along and scare him away. That was the black man that she wanted to avoid! Obama lies as easily as Bush does.

    Have we caught Bush lying about his grandmother yet? Just his grandfather, I thought…..

  20. Mark Halperin has an interesting piece on what the superD’s are thinking about.

    I think he’s missing a clue or two … or they are.

    In either case, they have time to wake up and smell the house on fire.

  21. Jawbone–

    That’s what I heard Obama said in his book. Maybe I read it in something you wrote. I was in a bookstore a little while ago and almost bought that book, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I might break down and buy it on my way home. I’m going to spend some more time this weekend trying to figure out what makes this guy tick.

    The thing that really troubles me is that if you look at this church he belongs to and his radical friends in Chicago, you would think he is really liberal. But then you look at his lobbyist connections both in IL and DC and how he has basically sold out to the highest bidder, you have to wonder if he has any principles at all. I know the DK boyz think he’s a liberal in moderates clothing. I remember one post by Booman in which he said we should just let Obama take us for granted, because the only way he can win is by looking somewhat conservative.

    I just don’t buy it. I think that Obama is very malleable and so ambitious that he will do anything, sell out his own grandmother for fame and power. I can see why he was attracted to Wright’s church, because he needed to get some street cred in the black community. But he must have admired Wright to get so close to him. It’s very mysterious to me.

    If Obama actually stood for something, I might have supported him. But I could never tell if he actually believed in anything except his own story. If he had stood up and defended Wright this week, I would have respected that. After all, I can’t say I disagree with much of what Wright said about 9/11 and bombing Japan, etc. What troubled me most was Wright’s misogyny.

    Of course I recognize that politically Obama couldn’t defend what Wright said. So then why did he stay in that church, knowing it would hurt him politically in the long run? Did he think he could overcome anything with his charisma? Was his need for a black father figure so strong that he couldn’t see the potential problems?

    I don’t know…I’m rambling…

  22. Does anyone think that if the Super Ds were under the impression that Obama was inevitable they wouldn’t come out in droves to help him win? He’s gotten a trickle of support, but it hasn’t been overwhelming. TX and OH were eye openers, even Richardson had to back down. If the Super D’s wanted Obama to win, they’d be doing more. As it is now, there are a few that are trying (Pelosi and such), but the majority seem to be waiting. If the Super D’s were worried about a brokered convention, they’d be doing much, much more.

    The only people that are worried about a brokered convention are Obama folks and that is because he’s hanging on to a small lead. Before TX and OH, Democratic voters prefered Hillary stay in the race even if she only won ONE of those states. She won BOTH convincingly.

  23. Obama’s supporters rationalize his attempts to disenfranchise Florida and Michigan voters because they broke teh rulez.

    Well, kids, don’t start crying if the superdelegates wake up and decide Obama would be a big mistake, and shift to Hillary.

    The rules allow superdelegates to do what they feel is in the best interests of the party. That’s true for regular delegates, for that matter — they can switch.

  24. Ohio — The Clinton campaign has been pushing media to refer to “automatic delegates” — which is what they’re called in the DNC RULZ!

    Obama sympathizers complain that this is an “Orwellian” use of language.

    This 2008-03-15 Josh Marshall lament suggests the “automatic” usage is catching on.

  25. So my birthday is during the convention (Aug 26 – Same day as Geraldine Ferraro, and the day the 19th amendment was ratified!!!!!) – maybe Clinton will get the nom. on my birthday!!!

    riverdaughter – any chance you’ll add my personal blog The Redstar Perspective to your blogroll?


  26. I’m not concerned with the legitimacy issue-I’m concerned
    with what O’s backers are doing and will do behind the
    scenes to make them swing his way at the convention. I
    think he is the one “who will do anything to win”. The auto-
    matic delegates are legitimate. I’m using that word from
    here on out.

  27. Redstar: Oh! I’m sorry. I thought you were already on it. Yep, I can add it. Did you get some mojo yesterday?

  28. ronkseattle (we’re up outside Monroe in SnoCo), automatic delegates, eh?

    I think it’s a bit late for push back, but I will do my best. Now, where did I put my cape?

  29. Even considering the math there are still 573 (pledged) +341(Super) delegates left. That is total of 914. If HRC can win 60% of that (difficult but not impossible) she will get
    914 x 0.6 = 548. Add that to her current total of 1493 brings to
    total of 2043. Delegates needed to win 2025.

    Considering Obama’s current problems I would predict more than 60% of the superdelegates left may consider voting for HRC which will make it even easier. So it is not at all mathematical impossibility. A wild card in all of this is Puerto Rico. Traditionally they have a winner take all system. Local party has not decided what they will do this time around but if they with winner take all then that is a big boost of HRC . Hillary will most certainly win PR and there are 55 delegates.

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