Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Could Hillary execute a nuclear option of her own?

I'm loathe to link to the Huff Po piece by Thomas Edsell but he brings up a scenario that we could likely see unfold within the Democrat party over who the nominee will be. It's well worth the read:

Hillary Clinton's campaign has a secret weapon to build its delegate count, but her top strategists say privately that any attempt to deploy it would require a sharp (and by no means inevitable) shift in the political climate within Democratic circles by the end of this month.

With at least 50 percent of the Democratic Party's 30-member Rules and Bylaws Committee committed to Clinton, her backers could -- when the committee meets at the end of this month -- try to ram through a decision to seat the disputed 210-member Florida and 156-member Michigan delegations. Such a decision would give Clinton an estimated 55 or more delegates than Obama, according to Clinton campaign operatives. The Obama campaign has declined to give an estimate.

[An aside -- if she executes this strategy, you can expect more than just an outcry from the Obama camp. You could see a great deal of anger emanating from the base itself. They have long contended that Obama is the rightful nominee. However, expect Hillary to use the "disenfrancised" argument for the committee. That is an argument we've predicted she'd use to get them seated; in essence guilting Dean into seating them or risk a backlash from the state Democrat parties.]

Using the Rules and Bylaws Committee to force the seating of two pro-Hillary delegations would provoke a massive outcry from Obama forces. Such a strategy would, additionally, face at least two other major hurdles, and could only be attempted, according to sources in the Clinton camp, under specific circumstances:

First, this coming Tuesday, Clinton would have to win Indiana and lose North Carolina by a very small margin - or better yet, win the Tar Heel state. She would also have to demonstrate continued strength in the contests before May 31.

[This isn't an unreasonable assumption that she could take both Indiana and North Carolina. She leads him by five points in Indiana, and she's within nine points of Obama in North Carolina, and that's after he had a significant double-digit lead prior to the Wright affair. So the prospect of her taking both, or taking Indiana and losing North Carolina by a skosh.]

Second, and equally important, her argument that she is a better general election candidate than Obama -- that he has major weaknesses which have only been recently revealed -- would have to rapidly gain traction, not only within the media, where she has experienced some success, but within the broad activist ranks of the Democratic Party.

Under that optimistic scenario, some Clinton operatives believe she could overcome several massive stumbling blocks:

-- Clinton loyalists on the Rules Committee would have to be persuaded to put their political futures on the line by defying major party constituencies, especially black leaders backing Barack Obama. Committee members are unlikely to take such a step unless they are convinced that Clinton has a strong chance of winning the nomination.

Former DNC and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Donald Fowler -- a Hillary loyalist -- would, for example, face an outpouring of anger from South Carolina Democrats if he were to go along with such a strategy.

-- A controversial decision to seat the two delegations, as currently constituted, would be appealed by the Obama campaign to the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee.

The full make-up of the Credentials Committee will not be determined until all the primaries are completed, but the pattern of Clinton and Obama victories so far clearly suggests that Obama delegates on that committee will outnumber Clinton delegates. Obama will not, however, have a majority, according to most estimates, and the balance of power will be held by delegates appointed by DNC chair Howard Dean.

For the scenario to work, then, Dean would have to be convinced of Clinton's superior viability in the general election, and that she has a strong chance of defeating McCain next November.

One of the arguments the Clinton campaign is privately making to autonomous "super" or "automatic" delegates, as well as to delegates technically "pledged" to Obama as a result of primary and caucus results, is that the campaign shifted dramatically in roughly mid-February. At that point, Clinton supporters contend, the economy replaced Iraq as the dominant issue among primary voters, and that transition led to Clinton's successes in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.

[This is a fallacy. While the economy did begin to replace Iraq as the main issue -- mostly due to the fact that the Surge in Iraq has had phenomenal success -- it has more to do with Republicans changing party affiliations to vote for her, specifically, in those three primaries. This was the turning point where Obama started to lose ground, and it's right about the time that the Wright affair reared its ugly head, and the connections to William Ayers came to light. It has little to do with her viability, and more to do with Obama's missteps and GOP interference int he primaries; the latter, by the way, isn't illegal. It's underhanded, but welcome to the world of modern politics.]

Clinton people also make the case that the past six weeks have seen examples of Obama's political vulnerabilities: his wife's "proud to be an American" remarks, the emergence of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy, wider coverage of Obama's ties to 1960s radicals Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, "bittergate," the flag pin imbroglio, and "hand on the heart" accusations -- all impugning Obama's patriotism.

Let me just say that the "patriotism" argument is a dog; a dead issue. It's insignificant. If he takes the nomination, let McCain blast him for it. Our job will be to highlight and continue digging on Ayers. That is the issue du jour to hit him with when it comes to questions about character and judgment. (Working in concert together Hugh Hewitt, Guy Benson, and John Hinderacker of PowerLine have hammered Obama on his ties to a former domestic terrorist that has hardly shed his radical beliefs. Toss in attacking Obama's political stances now, and before he landed in DC, will go a long way in assisting McCain in a successful presidential run.

But for those that think Hillary is unstoppable if she gets the nomination, think again. She has her share of baggage that conservative pundits have been digging up for years. And the hits aren't going to stop coming for her. Trust us, if she manages to win the nomination by executing this option she'll be on the frontlines of a fight not only against John McCain, but against a nation that doesn't like her, doesn't trust her, and are a bit squeamish about another Clinton in the White House; one that is far more radical in her political ideology than her husband ever was.

Publius II


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