I watched the Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting this morning. What a masochist I am!
The only thing that is clear is that there are truckloads of blame to be spread in every direction. The DNC screwed up in continuing to give primacy to Iowa and New Hampshire, they screwed up by punishing Florida even though it was clear that primary was moved up because of Republican machinations, and they screwed up in both places by not really thinking through the fall-out of telling two swing-states, "Your vote won't count."
Hillary Clinton screwed up by not raising her valid objections way, way earlier and then by exaggerating them to the level of Constitutional crisis only once it became clear she desperately needed the Florida and Michigan delegates to remain a viable candidate. Barack Obama shouldn't have taken his name off the Michigan ballot in what was probably a silly pander to Iowa.
There is no "right" solution, and there's certainly no decision that can be made that will make everyone happy. How do you account for the hundreds of thousands of voters who stayed home because they were told the elections wouldn't count? How do you allocate votes in Michigan for "Uncommitted," knowing full well that some -- maybe even most, but not all! -- were for Barack Obama?
The speakers this morning all stressed the need for party unification. There is no decision that can be made by the DNC that will achieve that; the decision belongs to the voters, that we just have to deal with the shitstorm that was dealt to us, abide by the ruling, whatever it is, support the nominee, and go forward. And as soon as a Democrat is in the White House in January 2009, we set to work fixing this incredibly stupid nominating system.
I propose seating the delegations from both states in full, based upon the primary results as they stand, questionable as they are. If the DNC feels procedurally obligated by their stupid rules to halve the delegates, so be it, but I fail to see the rationale behind punishing the voters for the idiocies of the party officials and candidates.
This requires significant concessions from both candidates. However you feel about his strategic decision to remove his name from the Michigan ballot, Barack Obama has been in complete compliance with the rules, stupid though they are, that were agreed to in advance by all the candidates. It's Hillary who disproportionately benefits from changing the rules at the end of the game.
On Michigan, I found myself uncomfortably agreeing with the Clinton camp: the "Uncommitted" delegates should not be assigned by the DNC, they should be called "uncommitted" and allowed to declare for the candidate of their choice. It makes the race infinitely closer, but I see no other solution that even approaches fairness.
Frankly, the Obama plan to split the Michigan delegates 50/50 is ludicrous. Even using Clinton-style magical math, you can't make any kind of reasonable argument that Clinton did not win Michigan; if we're going to make some attempt to respect the intent of the voters, calling what was obviously not a tie a tie is not the answer.
The Michigan Democrats' proposal ends up with numbers that sound right -- a 69/59 split in favor of Clinton -- but the idea of using exit polls and uncounted mail-in ballots is insanity. No, thanks.
The nominee will be Barack Obama by a hair. There will be millions of Democrats who aren't happy with that, but I assure them they'll be much less happy with John McCain. On all the significant issues facing this country, Obama and Clinton are mostly in the same place. We have got to put the ugliness of this nomination fight behind us and focus on fixing the country.
And as soon as we're back in the White House, we set about changing the nominating process. Maybe we should abandon delegates and dump caucuses and stick to the popular vote, but at the least, we've got to vary the order in which states vote. I propose a random lottery -- and for 2012, New Hampshire and Iowa don't get to go in the hat, they go last.