Yesterday's news that Senator Clinton was going to have her name placed in nomination (as it should have been in the first place) was completely undermined by a degree of political stupidity by Obama and the DNC so stupefying that one would think it was beyond even the most inept politician.
A few hours after the announcement that Senator Clinton's name would be placed in nomination, someone in the Obama campaign or the DNC, at the behest of the Obama campaign, put out a statement saying that Clinton's name in nomination and the subsequent roll call vote will be " a symbolic gesture" reducing it to something as fake as Obama's ill fated Presidential seal.
By stupidly claiming that Clinton's name in nomination and the ensuing roll call vote will only be a "symbolic gesture", the continuing idiocy of the Obama campaign and the DNC has reached new heights. Or depths.
One would have thought they had learned their lesson but apparently not. It seems once a snake oil salesman always a snake oil salesman and Obama just can't help himself, practically reversing all the good that was accomplished by the earlier statement.
Unless someone at the DNC is able to restore faith that the roll call vote will be authentic, they are on the road now to ensuring themselves of a very ugly convention if people perceive this as a rigged process.
Marc Ambinder in the Atlantic Monthly implied that the vote will be rigged in Obama's favor by making the comment that despite the roll call vote, "Clinton has no chance" at actually getting the nomination. That means either Ambinder has factual information that supports this or he is simply offering a political opinion that flies in the face of every piece of public information available. Since this is a year when a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican by 10 points and Obama can't get out of a tie with John McCain it should be no surprise that all the metrics always favored Clinton as the stronger candidate to begin with.
The only way Clinton would really have "no chance" as Ambinder claims would be if the roll call vote is rigged in Obama's favor with pressure being put on Clinton's pledged delegates to flip or have their credentials stripped, or other such unsavory and underhanded tactics. Otherwise, if one believes the survey conducted by Politico.com a few days ago ( and apparently Ambinder doesn't) the super delegate tally as of now is Obama 271, Clinton 268 and 160 undecided. That doesn't sound like "no chance" to me.
Maybe it was Obama's megalomania that has caused him and the DNC to try and spin it publicly as a "symbolic gesture". In reality as Heidi Li Feldman has pointed out on her blog, a vote is a vote regardless of how you want to spin it before hand. There is no such thing as a "symbolic vote". Unless, that is, you are rigging the outcome. And rigging the outcome means things like threatening Clinton delegates with being stripped of their credentials, or attempting to intimidate them if they don't vote for Obama. The problem with this is that eventually someone would speak out and if that proved to be the case the Democratic Party would end up the same shambles it is heading towards unless it conducts its business honestly.
I'm not saying they are rigging the outcome. But calling it a "symbolic gesture" starts to call into question the legitimacy of the entire process. A process whose legitimacy was called into a question a long time ago. And now what they have managed to do, like everything else Obama and the DNC has managed to do throughout this entire campaign, is create a public relations and political nightmare over something that at first, had everyone feeling a lot better.
But to show how inept Obama and the DNC really are, and how his megalomania causes problems even for himself, let's say it was true. Let's say they are working behind the scenes to ensure that the vote will go to Obama or that have a head count that is vastly different from Politico's and he is certain a roll call vote will result in his winning. How stupid is it then to make a public statement that the vote will only be "symbolic", making Clinton supporters, the very people he can't possibly win without, even angrier than they were before since no one will accept a "symbolic" vote that is nothing more than a dog and pony show. Not to mention how patronizing it is to 18 million voters.
Unless someone at the DNC wakes up and is able to undo the damage, they have managed to create a situation that could end up actually being worse than it was had they done nothing. Now they have to assure everyone that this vote will be a genuine roll call vote and an equal opportunity for super delegates to cast legitimate votes for either candidate with an outcome not preordained.
That they were capable of undoing all the good that came about by doing what they should have in the first place shows a degree of political stupidity and incompetence that one would think is not possible. Obama and the DNC seem to be trying to reduce the single most important process the country engages in as a whole, to the level of the kind of bait and switch tactics used by unscrupulous used car salesmen.
There is still one other nagging question to be dealt with. Today a freind of mine received as part of a mass emailing from Clinton, an email whose subject was "See you in Denver". In the email she extolled the virtures of Barack Obama and her support for him. I know there are things going on behind the scenes. I know there are "pressures" and negotiations. But Senator Clinton has every right to have her name placed in nomination and so do her supporters and voters. Neither she nor they need Obama's or Howard Dean's permission to do so. It is now past the point where publicly supporting Obama is being a good Democrat. It is becoming damaging to her and the process.
If she really believes and supports Obama then she herself should simply give up anything that could fall under the heading of a charade, release her delegates, withdraw her name from nomination and support Obama. She can also ask her voters to support Obama as much as she likes though it ought to be clear by now that that will never happen.
As long as she retains her delegates she is giving everyone the impression that she has not had some ephiphany where she woke up and realized Obama is the better candidate. That being said she is an adult. No one can make her do anything. She has to realize that Obama and Howard Dean are hardly the Democratic Party. They do not even represent the majority. They are just passing through. She has to tell them straight out that she has every right to have her name placed in nomination, so do her supporters and that she intends to go to that convention as a legitimate candidate for the nomination. If Obama and Dean and some others in the DNC don't like it, well that is just too bad. It isn't for them to like.
It should be plain by now that only the smallest portion of her voters will vote for Obama. There is nothing she can say or do to make it otherwise. It is an indpendent choice of all of her voters and its going to stay that way. So if Senator Clinton has had a change of heart about her desire to be President she needs to say so, she needs to release her delegates which would make it plain she supports Obama, and everyone can stop a charade which is fooling no one and which is only going to make things worse.
On the other hand if this is part of some seedy deal Obama and Dean have put on the table that she felt she had to go along with , maybe that has to be reconsidered and ended, since she doesnt need a deal to have her name placed in nomination and going along with one for whatever reason isn't doing anyone any good. This is not only about Clinton. This is about the entire integrity of the process and the Democratic Party which is either going to be honest or the Democrats will have to deal with their worst and most complete defeat in history. And deservedly so.
There is still the chance that the roll call vote will be authentic since nothing can really stop super delegates from voting their conscience ( except those who are spineless in the face of intimidation). But someone is going to have to clarify what is meant by "symbolic". Symbolic votes are what they have in Iran. It is what they used to do in the old Soviet Union. It is what they do now in China. It is not what we do in America.
The DNC needs to know that a symbolic vote is not good enough and that any individual or political party showing such little respect for how America goes about its business doesn't deserve to be in a position of authority anywhere. What they do deserve is a candidate who hides behind a phony Presidential seal, reneges on promises, lies about everything, has no moral compass or a single legitimate idea and had a 17 year relationship with a pastor who said America got what it deserved on Sept.11th. And everything that will come with it.