The Victim Card

By Saira Anees

May 15, 2008 1:04pm

FROM GUEST-BLOGGER RICK KLEIN, OF ABC’S THE NOTE

There’s an interesting subcurrent developing to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to wrest delegates out of the disputed votes in Michigan and Florida.

My former Boston Globe colleague Joan Vennochi reports in her column this morning that a group of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s female supporters are "playing hardball politics" to get DNC Chairman Howard Dean to acknowledge that votes in those state deserve to be counted.

"During a private meeting last week, a group of Massachusetts women asked the chairman of the Democratic National Committee to confront the ugliness of sexism, just as Democrats are confronting the ugliness of racism as a result of Barack Obama’s presidential bid," Vennochi reports.

Clinton supporter Deb Goldberg tells Vennochi: "The proof is in the pudding. What does Howard Dean do . . . based on our conversation with him?"

What they want Dean to do is step in and award delegates based on the elections in Michigan and Florida. The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee gets the next word — if not the final word — on the subject, at the end of the month.

A group of Clinton’s female supporters has launched a Website aimed at getting the Democratic Party to reconsider its decision to strip Michigan and Florida of convention delegates.

And there’s this from former President Bill Clinton, on the trail Wednesday, dialing up the full outrage over the treatment of states his wife won: "I just ask you all this, do you really believe Florida would be getting this kind of treatment if the vote had turned out the other way?" Clinton said, per ABC’s Sarah Amos.

Well, yes. Far be it from me to divine the former president’s meaning full here — but how does the situation in Florida and Michigan relate even a little bit to who won the state?

You can agree or disagree with the Democratic National Committee’s decision to punish Michigan or Florida for jumping the line, but to equate that with sexism or any other kind of prejudice against Clinton simply isn’t accurate.

As has been discussed numerous, numerous times, both Clinton and Obama were very aware of the DNC’s decision to strip Florida and Michigan of its delegates. The rules were put in place long before the voting began, without regard to race, sex, or anyone’s regard for Clinton, Barack Obama, or any other politician, living or dead.

As Jake has noted, Harold Ickes — a top Clinton adviser, and one of the leading voices calling for delegates to be awarded from the two rogue states — voted for the delegate penalty, back when it wasn’t clear who would win.

It sure sounded like Clinton knew what she was getting into on the even of the Michigan primary — where her name remained on the ballot, and Obama had his removed.

"It’s clear: This election they’re having is not going to count for anything. I personally did not think it made any difference whether or not my name was on the ballot," Clinton told NPR.

What has been clear is that both campaigns are making arguments that fit their needs. Clinton wants Michigan and Florida to count because she’d gain delegates; Obama doesn’t want them to count, because he’d lose some of his lead. Obama wants the will of the voters — via the pledged delegates — to be the final word; Clinton wants the superdelegates to be free to make a different judgment.

The delegate debate regarding Michigan and Florida will all play out the way it should, before the Rules and Bylaws Committee, May 31.

But Vennochi seems right on this point: "The Hillary Nutcracker is sexist. Keeping Florida and Michigan out of each candidate’s primary vote tally is not. It’s hardball politics."

– Rick Klein

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