Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: The Not-So-Veiled Threat to Pelosi, Take 2

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Not-So-Veiled Threat to Pelosi, Take 2

Well, let's try that again. It's very late at night (or early in the morning), and now that I've had a couple of martinis in place, maybe it's time to expound a bit more on the subject of superdelegates.

I said last night that I tended to agree with the Hillary supporters. A superdelegate has a different background than a regular elected delegate, and it seems to defeat the purpose to force a superdelegate to vote the same way that people of his or her state or district did. Nancy Pelosi ostensibly disagrees with that position, arguing that following the voters would be a quick way for the superdelegates to choose a nominee. As I've said before, that allows superdelegates with a way to mostly vote for Obama without directly crossing the Clintons. And that's precisely why Pelosi is such a good target for the letter from some of Hillary's wealthy supporters.

But if that's a good reason to do it, there are so many good reasons not to. First of all, although her opinion almost certainly carries some amount of weight, why presume that Pelosi is powerful enough to tell the superdelegates how to vote? She can no more do that than guarantee a certain vote in the House--if that were the case, they'd be passing everything on the Democratic side by veto-proof margins. So this is a somewhat empty gesture to begin with.

Secondly, isn't this kind of extortion best conducted in secret? Why have these people signed such a dangerous letter? You never go on the record with these kinds of demands, they have to be vague or implied. I hope that the result would be the same even under those circumstances, but once the letter became public (and although I imagine that it was intended to be a private correspondence, there was virtually no possibility that it would ever remain that way), Pelosi had no choice but to loudly denounce the demand.

One of the primary underpinnings of this whole episode is the expectation that superdelegates voting their consciences would overwhelmingly vote for Hillary. That seems like a very iffy proposition. The later endorsements have been breaking Obama's way, and there's every indication that superdelegates free of all encumbrances would move significantly in his direction. When we also take into account that all the Democrats in the House of Representatives are superdelegates, the letter seems a direct threat to each of them to vote for Hillary or risk losing significant funding. Maybe I've only got limited experience, but it's never seemed to me that elected officials particularly like being pushed into that kind of corner.

So in essence, it looks like this maneuver by the major Hillary supporters is both useless and foolish. Not bad for a day's work.


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