Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Phil Bredesen hands down a warning; too bad he's too late

You don't recognize the name, and that's fine. Most people don't know who he is. But let me help you with that.

--He's the two term governor of Tennessee.

--He's a superdelegate.

'Nuff said? I thought so. He spoke to Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen from Politico and his warning is to the Democrats to "avert" disaster in Denver:

Democrats are increasingly nervous about their party’s protracted nomination fight, and some prominent figures are publicly warning that the party needs to act fast to avoid disaster.

Chief among these voices is Phil Bredesen, the two-term governor of Tennessee who is uncommitted to either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) or Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). I

n an interview this week with Politico, Bredesen said flatly that if the contentious slog continues until the Democrats’ late-August convention in Denver, the party would have a vastly diminished chance of recapturing the White House.

“They have a much steeper, rockier hill to climb if it goes to the convention,” the governor said over a dinner of rockfish and red wine. “You’re going to spend this whole summer — and lots of money and time and effort — trying to convince people that whoever isn’t eventually nominated, isn’t electable.

"That’s a heck of a hole to climb out of come the first of September,” he added. “What’s been going on for the last 90 days just gets worse and worse as the summer goes on.” Bredesen also joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in warning that superdelegates should not overturn the outcome from primaries and caucuses.

If Obama were denied the nomination by Democratic insiders after winning the party’s popular vote, Bredesen said, “There would be hell to pay in the party for a long time to come.”

Bredesen is doing something about his concerns. He was in Washington this week to promote his idea for holding a “superdelegate primary” in June, in which the 795 party bigwigs would gather to hear one last time from Clinton and Obama before casting a final vote. Rather than allow the horse-trading and bloodletting go on all summer, he’d get it over with during a two-day business meeting in a neutral, easily reached city like Dallas.

“Invite the candidates to come and talk if they want, and then literally call the roll,” he explained. “We should not go through the summer and have a divided and exhausted Democratic Party. The inescapable conclusion is: OK, you’ve got to find some way to bookend and bring it to closure earlier. How do you do that? Do it in June rather than August."

The governor said he decided to push the plan because of what he called a “sea change” in opinion among Democratic elites. What once appeared to be a once-in-a-generation blessing — having two strong candidates with significant appeal among Democrats — seems more like a burden now, as the race drags on toward April and May contests that are unlikely to offer any more clarity than the muddled results of the past three months.

“Ninety days ago, everybody was talking in warm terms about both the candidates: ‘Isn’t it wonderful? Whoever’s president is going to be great,’” the governor said. “It has gotten vastly more polarized now, and that really concerns me.”

To Bredesen, an even-keeled political pragmatist, superdelegates are certain to ultimately decide the nominee, so it makes no sense for them to do it later rather than sooner.

This is a nice idea, but if he thinks the Clintons will go along with this, he's got another thing coming. Hillary has no intention of letting the superdelegates make this decision before Denver. Think about this, folks: Hillary raised Rezko during a debate just weeks before he was officially indicted and arrested. Obama has spun his connection to Rezko, which isn't working. Almost daily in that case, Obama's name comes up in the trial. Granted, it's in a way which connects him to no wrongdoing, but it still connects him to the corrupt, sordid world of "Chicago Way" politics.

Then as the Jeremiah Wright controversy was dying down, Hillary leaped into it yesterday with her comment about how Jeremiah Wright wouldn't have been her pastor, and that you can't choose your family, but you can choose your church. Now, of course she's about a week late in using that line (we were using it as the affair broke a week or so ago), but give the old girl a break. She's been timid going after Obama out of fear that his campaign will call her racist.

But there is no way Hillary is letting this go. She's buoyed by the fact that Republicans rescued her sorry butt in Texas and Ohio. She thinks she still has a shot. Hillary won't approve of this plan because she's simply too prideful. She doesn't want to hear that the superdelegates aren't for her before the convention.

In addition, Bredesen can't make this binding. The superdelegates decision is a non-binding one until they reach the convention. This is the argument that Hillary will use. Even if the superdelegates met in Dallas and have this vote, she's going to court the ones that are against her in an effort to secure the nomination. Hillary will do anything -- absolutely anything -- to win the nomination. She's been focused on the presidency since 1992, and she still believes that this primary fight shouldn't have been going on, and she should have simply been anointed.

We warned people about this. We told people that Hillary wouldn't idly go into the night. She's here to fight, and no one -- not Obama, not Bill, not Governor Bredesen -- is going to tell her different.

Publius II


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