Harriet Christian got tossed out of yesterday’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting for her vocal protests on behalf of Hillary Clinton as the Democrats decided on a compromise to seat Florida and Michigan delegates at their convention in Denver. Christian vented at the national media, which looked on with amusement as she declared her support for John McCain. Other women vowed to write in Hillary’s name in November rather than vote for Barack Obama:
After hours of emotional testimony and sometimes contentious debate, Democratic Party officials agreed yesterday on a pair of compromises to seat Florida’s and Michigan’s delegations to their national convention. But a part of the deal drew an angry reaction and the threat of a subsequent challenge from the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The compromises by the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee called for both delegations, originally barred from the convention for violating party rules, to be seated in full in Denver but with each delegate casting only half a vote.
The actions by the committee were aimed at bringing the long and sometimes-bitter Democratic nomination battle between Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Clinton (N.Y.) to a close and to ensure party unity as the Democrats head into the general election. But the decisions prompted bitter and sometimes-tearful reactions from some members of the audience, who repeatedly shouted over the committee members as they voted.
Democrats wound up with a compromise that solved nothing. Obama still needs more delegates to get to the nomination than he can possibly win in the few remaining primaries. The decision to halve the vote mirrors that of the Republicans, but the method (granting half a vote to the delegates rather than halving the number of delegates) has created a second-class delegate status that guarantees bitter feelings. In the end, the Hillary campaign all but swore to take the fight to the Credentials Committee in Denver, meaning that the same argument will be fought all over again, with the same bitterness.
The Michigan compromise turned out worst of all. The RBC ruled that Clinton would win 34.5 delegates to Obama’s 29.5, despite his not being on the ballot at all. The ratio appears correct if Obama gets credit for all of the rest of the popular vote, but it’s still an impossible situation for the Democrats because of Obama’s absence from the ballot for their primary. Instead of just using the primary votes, the RBC decided to use exit polling as part of its calculation, which infuriated Team Hillary, which lost delegates as a result. They accused the RBC of “hijacking” four delegates for Barack Obama and used that as their reason to continue their push all the way to Denver.
All of this led to the rant by Ms. Christian, and her voice was not the only one enraged by the RBC decision yesterday. In truth, the DNC can’t do much to assuage either side, nor does it appear that they can close this debate before Denver. The bruised feelings this weekend show that any push to force superdelegates into commitments before the first ballot will be seen as more illegitimate machinations by the party establishment against the woman who has come closest to winning a major party nomination, and an insult to the sensitivities of her considerable faction in the party. No matter who wins in Denver, the Democrats had better prepare for large-scale defections in November.
Update: I had the name as Christiansen in the original post. Thanks to David Bell for the correction.