Hillary never really had a chance in 2008. Politico has the story this morning, based on a new book by Jeff Berman, who was Obama’s “chief delegate counter” during the 2008 primaries. The self-published book, The Magic Number, can be purchased at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The low-profile Berman, whose formal campaign title was national delegate director, was known for his obsessive attention to detail and preparation, and the book includes an unusually clear explanation of the complex, arbitrary process of selecting presidents. But its most striking moments, for those who followed the campaign closely, concern previously unreported battles, particularly around the primary calendar, the outcomes of which could have determined the nomination.
Unreported by the stupid corporate media who obviously could have investigated, but chose not to.
Florida and Michigan were key, and Berman describes how he tricked the Clinton operation into handing the nomination to Obama from the start.
“A January 29th Florida primary could completely blow up Obama’s winning path to the presidential nomination,” Berman writes. “This path requires him to win in Iowa, get through New Hampshire and Nevada and emerge, the week before Super Tuesday, as a leading candidate in South Carolina, whose large African-American population can carry him to a major victory one week before Super Tuesday. Moving the Florida primary to three days after South Carolina’s primary would block this strategy, as the election outcome in massive Florida would surely overshadow the results from smaller South Carolina.”
Berman quietly asked former Iran-Contra prosecutor John Nields and two other lawyers “to investigate exactly how the Florida primary legislation was enacted.” Their “authoritative legal report” showed that Florida Democrats — who were trying to blame the GOP — actually had a hand in the process; the Democratic National Committee used its findings as the basis for the move to sanction Florida, Berman writes.
According to Berman, Clinton aide Harold Icke, who was on the DNC Rules Committee, never questioned this fraudulent document, and signed on without any argument at all.
The Coup de grace, of course, came on May 31, 2008. Berman says that Howard Dean was worried about the outcome of the rules committee meeting that day, but not to worry. It worked out fine for The One. Of course we all recall how Obama’s nomination was secured by giving Obama some of Hillary’s Michigan primary votes, even though the Obama-obsessed corporate media ignored the whole slimy operation.
The uncertainty, though, lasted through the spring of 2008. Indeed, Berman writes, DNC Chairman Howard Dean was uncertain that he could persuade the Rules Committee members to enforce sanctions on Michigan and Florida in a May 31 meeting, and sought to cancel that session. Had the sanctions failed, the nomination fight could have blown wide open at the very last moment.
Berman also describes how he got help from the UAW to keep Obama and Edwards from being forced to keep their names on the ballot in Michigan, risking defeat by Clinton.
Berman called an official of the United Auto Workers, who had ties to Edwards, and persuaded the union to oppose the change.
“When the UAW makes a few calls in a political fight in Michigan, the political calculus of the fight changes,” he writes with satisfaction.
It’s all water under the bridge now, but I can still get angry about it. This is going to make it even harder for me to decide whether to vote the top of the ticket or leave it blank November.
I’m not one to look back to the past. I definitely am not one to obsess on the past. It’s possible that my Buddhist training keeps me rooted in the pragmatic present. It’s likely that it had something to do with my bout with inoperable and deadly cancer. It took me at least five years to think beyond about one month. I completely lost my ability to project ahead during that time. While I have regained my foresight and I have an appreciation for hindsight, I’m still not one to rehash what coulda, shoulda, woulda been. However, Ruth Marcus shoved my thoughts back to the year of wishful thinking.
It was about 3 years ago when I started to realize who the only credible Democratic candidate was for the post-Dubya years. I came to that after listening to about three primary debates and reading a lot of background material. I was tempted by the lot of them but I always found it odd that the first one I discounted as more vice presidential material than presidential material given his appalling performance in the first primary debate wound up with the top job. The world keeps spinning on. We now have so many crazies in the Republican party that it’s a wonder they all don’t walk through the statehouse with a set of visible knuckles dragging the floor. The economy isn’t creating enough jobs to sustain us and we have people advocating the same kinds of policy that caused the great depression now. One of the worst ones wants to repeat the 20′s era Fed’s mistakes and is in charge of the House oversight committee on the Fed. Then, we have irresponsible tax cuts while running two wars. And THAT’s just a few of the economic policies ruling topsy turvy land these days.
So, again, my chagrin and thoughts were peaked by this Ruth Marcus Op Ed piece. So, I had to look back to read now and look forward.
For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.
Each of these instances can be explained on its own terms, as matters of legislative strategy, geopolitical calculation or political prudence.
He didn’t want to get mired in legislative details during the health-care debate for fear of repeating the Clinton administration’s prescriptive, take-ours-or-leave-it approach. He doesn’t want to go first on proposing entitlement reform because history teaches that this is not the best route to a deal. He didn’t want to say anything too tough about Libya for fear of endangering Americans trapped there. He didn’t want to weigh in on the labor battle in Wisconsin because, well, it’s a swing state.
Yet the dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a “Where’s Waldo?” presidency: You frequently have to squint to find the White House amid the larger landscape.
This tough assessment from someone who generally shares the president’s ideological perspective may be hard to square with the conservative portrait of Obama as the rapacious perpetrator of a big-government agenda.
Then, read on, the rationalizations are still there but we finally get back to the punchline: “Where’s Obama? No matter how hard you look, sometimes he’s impossible to find.” I’d just like to say that any one with an impressive career of voting present so many times, who was known to hide out in bathrooms during the tough votes, spent his entire senate career campaigning and not voting, and only introduced minor legislation into the Chicago legislature after it was carefully crafted by others already had shown his brand of leadership. How a standing record that was way out of its way in proving “he who hesitates is lost” got translated into national ‘hope and change’ by so many people will be something I will ask myself whenever books come out with themes similar to Marcus’ WAPO musings. Past performance is usually an indicator of future performance. Next time, check your data. That is all. Back to the present for me.