Thursday, February 07, 2008

Clinton v. Obama = Bush v. Gore?

In his blog, Washington Post reporter David Achenbach suggests that if the delegate count is close enough, the Clinton campaign will start agitating for the seating of the Michigan and Florida delegates in what can only be described as Bush v. Gore through the looking glass. The Clinton mantra will be nominally the same as the Gore notion in 2000: Count every vote! Don't disenfranchise Michigan and Florida voters! But these superficial similarities to the Democratic position in 2000 will mask a deeper affinity with the brass-knuckle tactics of James Baker and the paid brownshirts sent to Florida to intimidate vote counters in 2000.

When Florida moved up its primary in violation of national party rules, the national Democratic party followed through on a threat not to seat Florida's or Michigan's delegates. Further, all of the candidates agreed not to campaign in Florida or Michigan. But just before the Florida primary, Clinton announced that she thought the Florida and Michigan delegates should be seated. She said: "I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention."

How very noble. Wherever both candidates have campaigned, Obama has eaten into Clinton's early leads, so a primary in Florida in which neither candidate campaigned naturally led to a Clinton victory, and in Michigan Obama wasn't even on the ballot.

Achenbach suggests that if the DNC's Credentials Committee (which includes at least one Clinton loyalist) in fact permits the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated, lawsuits will follow, giving Justice Scalia the chance to pick the Democratic nominee. At that point, Hillary Clinton's journey to the dark side (as described by Maureen Dowd here) will be complete.

Posted by Mike Dorf