DNC Chairman Tom Perez must be hearing some footsteps behind him at this point. The revelations in Donna Brazile’s upcoming book have been picked up by far more reputable persons in the Democratic Party and a fresh postmortem of the 2016 Democratic primary is obviously in order. As the Washington Free Beacon reports, Perez sat down with Chuck Todd this weekend and was promptly under fire.
Todd came out with a list of individuals who have raised various versions of the rigged primary charges. Elizabeth Warren, Perez’s own deputy chair Keith Ellison and Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager were all quoted. Perez gave a lengthy answer in which he walked up to the line of admitting culpability on the part of the DNC, going so far as to say they had “fallen short” last year, but he also threw out some chaff to obscure the real problems. Here’s the short video of the exchange followed by the pertinent portions of the transcript from the Free Beacon.
“How are you going to restore trust with Sanders supporters that the DNC is going to be a … fair arbiter?” Todd asked on “Meet The Press.”
Perez said he accepted the test and knew the party needed to up its game, but he dismissed the idea of a “rigged” contest, pointing out Clinton won four million more votes than Sanders in the primary.
“Those [primaries] were run by the states. We run caucuses, and Bernie Sanders did very well in the caucuses,” Perez said. “Where I think both Senator Warren and Keith Ellison and myself, where we agree, is we have to earn the trust of the voters, and during the process of the Democratic primary, we fell short in that, undeniably.”
Perez announced future reforms like announcing the debate schedule before the candidates were known and encouraging greater transparency in fundraising agreements.
It was when Chuck Todd followed up by asking if the DNC “owed the Sanders campaign an investigation” that he agreed that the committee had “fallen short” in 2016.
All of that sounds good on the surface, or at least shows some conciliatory attitudes on the part of the DNC, but when you consider what Perez is actually saying it sounds like they’re still in denial to a large degree. First of all, when speaking of the allegations raised by Brazile, note that Perez immediately points out that the DNC doesn’t “run the primaries” in the individual states and that they handle some caucuses where Sanders “did very well.” All of that may be true to a certain extent, but nobody was saying that the actual vote counts were tampered with or fraudulent. (Which is certainly what it sounded like Perez was suggesting.)
The dirty dealing came with the factors beyond the control of the states. The DNC set the debate schedule. The DNC made the secret agreements on splitting up the fundraising. The DNC sent out the army of spokesmodels to do the Sunday morning talk show circuit and pump up Hillary Clinton at every opportunity. Investigating the primaries in the individual states isn’t going to accomplish a thing because that’s not where the problems took place.
As to the solutions Perez is proposing, all I can say is good luck with that. I suppose they could be more transparent with their fundraising arrangements, but I’m not sure what he’s talking about when it comes to the debates. When does he plan on announcing the schedule of debates for late 2019 and 2020? People are already unofficially lining up to run for the Democratic nomination and we’re going to be seeing formal announcements of exploratory committees in the next six months, I assure you. I seriously doubt he can lock down a debate schedule that far in advance.
The Democratic and Republican parties are, in the end, private clubs. And their leadership no doubt share certain beliefs about who will give them the best chance at victory. That doesn’t mean that an outsider can’t break through and seize the crown (see Trump, Donald J.), but Perez should just admit that it’s significantly more difficult to do when the party leadership has their thumb on the scale.