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 Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton Should Know 1st Grader Rules: You Break the Rules, You Get Punished

  Let Democrats show they're smarter than a 1st-grader

From USA Today: Read here

Some problems, if ignored long enough, simply go away. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, what to do about Michigan and Florida isn't one of them.

Party officials will gather this weekend to try to figure a way out of a political mess that began in January, when the two states broke party rules by holding their presidential primaries before Feb. 5.

The states were RIGHTLY stripped of their delegates, and the fight has been on ever since.

The states and Sen. Hillary Clinton, who "won" both the unsanctioned primaries, now insist that this is all about democracy, respecting voters and counting every vote.


This is about rules, and Democratic officials have a chance to send an important message this weekend that rules matter.

Lest this sound harsh, bear in mind these facts:

* Both Florida and Michigan agreed to the rules they then went ahead and broke.

* Both states had plenty of time to stage new votes after Feb. 5 to get back into compliance with the rules. That would have been the fairest way to fix the problem and give
voters the voice they deserve. But neither state could get its act together for a revote.

* The January votes in Florida and Michigan were irreparably tainted. Major candidates pledged not to campaign in either state, and Barack Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan.
Clinton, on the verge of elimination from the Democratic race, is desperate to parlay her "victories" in Florida and Michigan into delegates, or at least into votes that she could use to argue that she won more popular votes nationally than Obama.

Neither election, however, was a fair representation of the voters' will.

Rather than stake claims based on tainted votes, Clinton would do better to convince party superdelegates that she'd have a better chance than Obama of defeating Republican John McCain in November.

That might or might not be true, but at least it would be an honest argument.

How the Democrats resolve this mess will be important not just for 2008, but also for efforts in 2012 to prevent the sort of chaotic leapfrogging that can undermine the primary process in both parties. (Republicans, who stripped rogue states of half their delegates, saw their potential problem disappear when McCain wrapped up the GOP nomination in early March.)

As a practical matter, Democrats want to give convention seats to delegations from Michigan and Florida, two big states that will be important in electing the new president this fall.

All sorts of compromises are being floated, and it's up to the party to decide what to do.

But any resolution should remind states of what every first-grader ought to know:
You break the rules, you get punished.

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