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 Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Clinton Spin Cycle and "New Maths"


Miguel Perez

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When it comes to spinning the arguments -- bordering on dishonesty -- nobody does it better than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her band of professional spinners.

For months, they have been telling us the states that will matter in November are the big swing states she has been winning in the primaries. If she ever became the Democratic nominee, you have to wonder how that elitist attitude would affect the general election vote in the many smaller primary and caucus states won by Sen. Barack Obama.

But now the Clintonites are spinning in the opposite direction. Instead of the crucial heartland states, now they tell us that Sunday's primary in Puerto Rico, which doesn't even vote in the general election, was critical.

Why do they say it was critical? Because the commonwealth island may have put her over Obama in Clinton's unique national popular vote count -- as if the Democratic nominee were somehow decided by the national popular vote instead of delegates selected in state primaries and caucuses.

If the rules are not favorable to the Clinton campaign, they simply come up with their own rules.

As for having the majority of the national popular vote, that's only true if you use Clinton's own new math. You would have to rely on estimate counts from caucus states, for which no official popular vote count is available.

And you would have to include an unfairly lopsided count for Clinton in two states in which many voters stayed home because they were told that their Democratic primary did not count.

When the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee divided the Florida and Michigan delegates between Clinton and Obama on Saturday, it was delegates -- not popular-vote counts -- that were awarded. And each of those delegates was given only a half-vote at the convention.

Yet the Clinton camp insists on counting the popular vote in Florida, where Obama didn't campaign, and in Michigan, where Obama wasn't even on the ballot. It's downright dishonest.

And yet this is the intelligence-insulting "popular vote" argument Clinton is making to the remaining undecided superdelegates, who are likely to select the Democratic nominee very soon.

Obama has won more delegates, more states and even more popular votes if you count them fairly.

Yet Clinton is asking these politically astute superdelegates to overturn the will of the people.

If they did that, the Democratic Party would be so divided that it would take more than one election cycle to recover. For now, it not only would secure the election of Republican Sen. John McCain but also would deal a hard blow to Democrats in Congress.

And if Clinton ever became the Democratic nominee, you have to wonder how she would be affected by her willingness to ignore the many Florida and Michigan Democrats who stayed home on primary day because their party told them they were being punished.

These Democrats were stupidly deprived of the right to vote by their own party, and by refusing to recognize them for political expedience, Clinton has promoted their disenfranchisement.

For someone who claims to be promoting unity among Democrats, you don't see much effort from Clinton to comply with the party's rules or to add with regular math.

Even as the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee searched for a way to give Florida and Michigan some convention representation during their meeting Saturday, Clinton supporters on the committee insisted that their candidate should be given preferential treatment.

In fact, they argued that although they believe in following party rules, this time -- for Hillary Clinton -- they should be broken.

And when they failed to get what they wanted, Clinton supporters who were watching the proceedings adopted a scorched-earth attitude that could end up scorching their party's chances of recapturing the White House.

When pro-Clinton motions failed, some Clinton sore losers turned into hecklers, even as some committee members were pleading for party unity. Many of them chanted "Denver," threatening to take their anger to the Democratic National Convention, which undoubtedly would diminish the Democrats' chances of winning in November.

Of course, to some degree, that has happened already. If Obama loses the general election against McCain, many will blame Clinton for staying in the Democratic race much longer than she should have, i.e., even after regular math clearly showed that she had lost the primary race.

Nevertheless, the staggering statistical evidence against Clinton doesn't seem to faze her. The Clinton camp is still on spin mode, even if most Americans can't wait for them to stop insulting our intelligence and challenging our math.

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