The DNC’s planned coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democrats’ 2016 nominee has pretty much gone off the rails at this point, with far too many voters refusing to toe the line and the pesky FBI inserting doubts in the hearts of the faithful. You may recall that, at least until now, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has been holding the line, insisting that her paltry schedule of six debates (four before Iowa) was sufficient and would keep the voters informed. Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley and some big names in her base have called out the obvious ploy and been screaming for more, but as long as it looked like Hillary would limp over the finish line there was no reason to retreat from DWS’s original plan. Now, however, Hillary is feeling the Bern and is in a mood to cut a deal, so she has parlayed with Bernie to stock up the debate cupboard with several more engagements. (Politico)
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns have agreed in principle to attend four more debates, starting with a proposed New Hampshire event next week, a Clinton campaign aide confirmed Saturday.
The schedule is still subject to approval from the Democratic National Committee, which has not publicly weighed in on the campaigns’ requests to add four events — one in February, one in March, one in April, and one in May — since Sanders proposed it this week.
The final negotiations have yet to be ironed out, but the move comes after days of wrangling in public and behind the scenes, as both candidates sought to pressure each other on the topic of adding debates.
The way it’s being portrayed in this report, the “proposed changes” sound at least mildly palatable for public release, but the reality behind the scenes is obviously far more messy, which can be inferred simply from who is releasing the news. With both the Sanders and Clinton camps letting this news out to the media, it’s fairly obvious that nobody consulted Debbie Downer about this in advance. In other words, she was either steamrolled on the plan or – perhaps even worse – was simply ignored as being inconsequential to the process. If the candidates were at all worried about either the power or the public image of the DNC they would have taken it directly to Wasserman-Schultz and had her make the announcement. It would have been something along the lines of this:
Given the tremendous interest generated among our voters by the spirited and positive policy discussion taking place within our party, I have decided to add an additional four debates so that everyone can fully explore the potential of our highly qualified candidates.
Unfortunately for Debbie, what’s happening is pretty much the opposite. The kids have been talking to the press with only a cursory mention of the proposed debates being “subject to approval” of the DNC. That’s a complete joke on the face of it. DWS has no options at this point. She can meekly stamp her “approval” on the proposal and fade into the background, which is pretty much her only choice. If she refused to sanction the four debates, Clinton and Sanders (oh… and O’Malley too. Sorry, Martin. You’re so easy to forget) could still go ahead and do them. Then, when the other two scheduled debate dates arrived, the Chair can either schedule an event with zero candidates, cancel them entirely, or be forced to break her own rules by allowing candidates who went rogue on her to participate anyway, making her rules a laughing stock in the process.
For the long haul, Clinton still looks like the likely winner unless the Justice Department decides to indict her. But no matter how this shakes out in the end, there’s really only one clear loser. And that’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.