If Hillary Clinton has enough committed delegates, pledged and super-, to win going into the Democratic convention, she’s already won. She doesn’t need the Florida and Michigan delegates, and they will be seated without protest in a happy family reunion, as it were. On the other hand, if she thinks that she doesn’t have enough votes to prevail, she will have to force a vote to enfranchise the F-M delegates. She’ll win that floor vote only if enough uncommitted super-delegates plus John Edwards’ 26 pledged delegates vote with her committed delegates to enfranchise them. But that would mean that she doesn’t need the F-M votes in the first place, since she commands majority support without them. Of course she could theoretically force the convention to seat the F-M delegates by court order, but then she would have no chance of winning the runoff against John McCain. And even that far-fetched scenario assumes that such an action wouldn’t touch off a massive defection of super-delegates to Mr. Obama that would throw the nomination his way in the first place.
So there doesn’t seem to be any remotely plausible scenario under which the F-M votes can actually affect the outcome in Mrs. Clinton’s favor. In fact, her quest for their enfranchisement seems to be undermining her credibility as a presidential candidate. It’s worse than cheating; it’s stupid. It doesn’t make sense. Or does it?
If I remember correctly, the Clinton team began talking about this just before the January 29 Florida primaries. My guess was that it intended to influence the Florida voters, so that it could play it up as a Clinton victory and build momentum going into Super (Duper) Tuesday on February 5. I have no idea whether or not it had any impact. But the long-term implications are clear, and it does not bode well for Mrs. Clinton.
Unfortunately for her candidacy, there is no way that her team can back away from it without further compromising her integrity. She made a bet with little upside and significant downside, and lost. It’s yet another manifestation of the lack of imagination and the reactivity that have dogged her increasingly beleaguered campaign.
The only serious error here is that I:
a) didn’t bother to look into his pre-law school work as a community organizer and therefore failed completely to anticipate his skills as a manager (this kind of talk seems to be surfacing more often now); and
b) weaseled out when I wrote that “there are the guys, like Barack Obama, who can make grown-up men lose it.” I should, of course, have written, “…. make grown men pee in their pants.” I hope he doesn’t misuse this knack. For example, he doesn’t really mean everything he says about trade issues, does he?