After a grueling day inside the Marriott Hotel in Washington DC, the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to ratify the compromises proposed by the state parties of both Michigan and Florida. The decision almost (but not quite!) ends months of indeterminacy about the results of the nominating contests in those two states, which took place in violation of the DNC’s rules.
The deal, which seats both states’ delegations, but with half the voting power, nets Clinton 24 delegates and, seems to be accepted by everyone except die-hard Clinton supporters. Harold Ickes, a long-time Clinton loyalist and member of the RBC (who himself voted to deny Michigan and Florida any representation last year) said Clinton herself had instructed him to “reserve the right” to challenge the ruling at a latter party meeting in July. His statement, emailed around by the Clinton campaign to reporters, opens the possibility for a Quixotic and destructive conflict that could extend through the party’s convention in Denver.
The day started early. The first person I encounter at 9am after crossing the Duke Ellington bridge from my apartment in Northwest DC to the Marriott Hotel, the location of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting, is Helen Bradley. A Clinton supporter who’s flown in from Northern California, Bradley is standing in a red shirt with a sticker that says “Count Michigan and Florida” and a sign that says “Count Every Vote.” When I ask her why she’s there, she’s sunny, earnest and on-message. She points at her sign and says. “For me, it’s not about winning. Florida and Michigan should have a right to vote.”
The Clinton supporters sitting in a coffee shop a block away are far less politic:
“I saw a picture of Michelle Obama in someone’s office the other day and it made me nauseous,” says one woman.
“My whole family is Republican so now we’re all united around John McCain,” adds another.
“I don’t want a leader who wants to sit down with leaders of Muslim countries,” offers a third. “He scares me.”
This level of bitterness probably isn’t particularly representative of Clinton supporters at large but it’s sentiments like these that haunt the nightmares of Howard Dean and the DNC. Dean addresses it head-on in his opening remarks the Rules and Bylaws Committee, recalling a midnight call he received from Al Gore in the waning days of the 2004 primary, when it was clear Dean would not be the nominee. “I was very, very angry at my party for some of the things that had been done,” he said. “I remember getting a call from Al Gore, pacing up and down in the hallway. Ranting and raving: what do I owe the Democratic party after the way I’ve been treated!?! Tell me! After twenty minutes, Al Gore said: ‘Howard this is not about you. This is about your country.’ At that point not even my wife could have said that to me. But whatever I had been through, he had the presidency snatched from him forty days after the election by five intellectually bankrupt Supreme Court judges. This is not about candidates. This is a story about Americans and its greatness.”