A Brokered Convention, President Jeb Bush and southern Protestant prohibitionist
January 24, 2008 8:01 AM   Subscribe

The process and history of "brokered conventions," for both the Republican and Democratic parties: What if no candidate gets a majority (2025 delegates for the Democrats, 1191 for the much smaller Republican convention)? This is where "brokered convention" comes in. Actually, it is more like "All hell breaks loose." All delegates are now up for grabs. All the candidates try to grab as many delegates as they can ... but after the first ballot, the delegates are free agents don't have to obey their chairman or anyone. Some might not care about dams and bridges but might trade their vote for a promise to insert a plank in the platform to [ban voting machines, build a 20' electrified fence on the Mexican border, declare the chicken to be the national fowl, you name it].
posted by geoff. (65 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
... and a southern Protestant prohibitionist.
posted by geoff. at 8:02 AM on January 24, 2008

An interesting read, but that link will only be good for the next day. This one should be permanent.
posted by Prospero at 8:05 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

With all the chaos that might take place, thank god we don't give a hoot about what the platform says since it is seldom noted after it is delivered.
posted by Postroad at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2008

Ah, thanks Prospero, I had a hard time finding a permanent link.
posted by geoff. at 8:16 AM on January 24, 2008

I may be biased, but any talk of how both parties are in the same boat would seem like a false equivalence.

The Democrats can't decide because they love the top 2 equally (outside of dkos, I haven't noted any particular hatred of Clinton). Barring some major dirty tricks, I think they'd be fine with a brokered convention.

On the other hand, the Republicans can't decide because they hate all their candidates equally. No matter who gets the nom, a majority of the base is going to be pissed.
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

DU, there sure seems to be a lot more animosity between the Dem candidates than there is between the Republicans. While one can argue cause/effect, I don't think it's a stretch to think that a similar animosity may be reflected in their respective supporters.

On topic, brokered conventions are good things, because compromise is a fine tool.
posted by rokusan at 8:28 AM on January 24, 2008

The sad thing about this to me is that if a brokered convention does happen, the media will describe the Party that is having it as "broken, fractured, indecisive, divided," and so forth. Sometimes the process isn't clean and neat, and I think a lot of good - more interest, more debate, more involvement, compromise - could come from brokered conventions. But because of how it would be framed, I'm not sure it would be as good as my somewhat idealistic view of it is.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:34 AM on January 24, 2008

since it is seldom noted delivered after it is delivered noted
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:34 AM on January 24, 2008


What nobody wants (except for their opponents) is a repeat of the 1924 Democratic convention in New York City in which a northern Catholic opposed to prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan, Al Smith, faced off against a southern Protestant who supported prohbition and refused to denounce the Klan, William McAdoo. On July 4th, 1924, 20,000 Klansmen showed up in full dress uniform to throw baseballs at an effigy of Smith and burn crosses. After 99 ballots, Smith and McAdoo, both exhausted, withdrew. Finally, on the 16th day of the convention, John Davis was nominated on the 103rd ballot. A nominee who wasn't even a candidate coming into the convention is called a dark horse. (If both conventions are deadlocked this year and the candidates are ultimately Al Gore and Jeb Bush, we would have two dark horses.) Davis subequently lost the general election to Calvin Coolidge.
posted by mecran01 at 8:34 AM on January 24, 2008

I like to think the animosity between the D candidates is more a function of their viability. That is, one of them really will end up being President and it is therefore worth fighting hard for, whereas it is unlikely (in my view and at this point in time) that any R candidate can win the general.

But there's also this: D animosity has been a staple of recent politics. R animosity has not. So when Ds are animos (heh) in 2008, it is an unsurprising non-change. But when Rs show even a little bit, it's a huge deal.

I mean, I would fully expect Air America to denounce Clinton for supporting $UNPROGRESSIVE_BILL. But Rush Limbaugh denouncing Huckabee? What would St Reagan say?
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on January 24, 2008

DU: McCain was going so far off the conservative reservation, so far off of it, that it was necessary to step in. Huckabee is getting close, I’m going to have to tell you. Huckabee’s getting close to the same stuff. Huckabee is using his devout Christianity to mask some other things that are distinctively not conservative. He is against free trade. He’s really doesn’t believe in free market. Well, let me read what George Will wrote today... “Huckabee’s campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy is misdescribed as being -- a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. -- Rush Limbaugh (and indirectly, George Will)
posted by rokusan at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2008

i think the difference is that the anti-war dissenters on the democratic side have already been effectively shoved aside and never had a real candidate in the race - whatever divisiveness there may be there is pretty hidden

the republicans seem to have two different major factions - the evangelical and the corporate, and they both are in conflict and both have representatives in the race - i think either way they go, it could cripple them

i have the feeling the results of this election aren't going to be as important as they should be - all talk about change but i think they don't want to
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 AM on January 24, 2008

"That is, one of them really will end up being President and it is therefore worth fighting hard for, whereas it is unlikely (in my view and at this point in time) that any R candidate can win the general."

I seem to recall Hillary trailing McCain in a hypothetical matchup, and defeating the rest of the field. Obama defeats all in hypothetical matchups in polling.

Makes sense, I'd rather stay home on election day than hold my nose and vote for Hillary. The Constitution clearly says two terms is the limit, and while Bill wouldn't be president, he would have a US President who has taken an oath to obey him (good ol' wedding vows). Smells like cheating to me.
posted by mullingitover at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2008

(Also, I would love love LOVE for the R nominee to be Jeb Bush. The Bush name is so trashed, we'll never see any Bush in any elected office for the next 100 years, and I include Idaho in that assessment.)
posted by DU at 8:52 AM on January 24, 2008

If you're reading the liberal blogs, the Obama and Clinton supporters HATE each other. The Obama people tend to like the Edwards people though.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on January 24, 2008

I seem to recall Hillary trailing McCain in a hypothetical matchup...

This does in fact seem to be what the numbers are saying, but I just don't see it. Perhaps I'm blinkered in my newfound (going on 4 years or so) hatred of the GOP.
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2008

Makes sense, I'd rather stay home on election day than hold my nose and vote for Hillary.

i think she's power hungry and dangerous - and a clinton vs romney race would be a true new low for our country
posted by pyramid termite at 9:11 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm blinkered by hatred too, but I just don't see Hillary winning the general regardless of the GOP candidate. Bush is not running again, the GOP can paint the Democratic majority in Congress as being ineffectual, and there's entirely too much history and conjecture readily available for the slime machine to use against her.
posted by psmealey at 9:16 AM on January 24, 2008

The slime machine has already started, psmealey. I'm no fan of Clinton, but this is beyond the pale, and she hasn't won the nomination yet.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:21 AM on January 24, 2008

I just realized what I'm actually blinkered by. I stopped listening to anything but NPR years ago and stopped even that a few weeks ago.

It's funny how your perceptions of candidates change when you step outside the echo chamber.
posted by DU at 9:31 AM on January 24, 2008

This is useful historical information and fun to play around with, but realistically the odds of there being a brokered convention on either side is incredibly, incredibly low.

For the Democrats: Obama is going to take South Carolina, but it's not going to be enough at this point on a national level to upset Hillary because of her previous victories. The big talk now is Florida, but it's mostly for momentum-building. Unless half of Florida's Democratic voting base suddenly stop loving Hillary, she's going to win; the only issue is by how much. Looking ahead to "Super Tuesday," Hillary Clinton is going to bulldoze Obama in the largest states, like California and New York- with the exception of Georgia and Obama (and Oprah)'s home state of Illinois, Clinton is beating Obama by double digits in every single Feb. 5 state. And many of these states' delegates are winner-take-all. I would personally love a miracle at this point, but a miracle is what Obama is going to need right now. Anything less won't get him the nomination this year.

As far as the shared ticket stuff, not going to happen. Obama is young enough to wait until both 2012 if Hillary loses to be the presumptive nominee, or 2016 when without a doubt he'll be the VP pick for whoever Clinton tapped in '08 who will likely be uninspiring and "safe" (think Vilsack or Bayh) and desperately need the presence Obama can command.

Republicans: it's McCain or Romney at this point, which scares the shit out of me because they're the two most likely to beat the Democrat in November. I think Florida is going to be much more of a deciding factor for the GOP than it will be for the Democrats. The primary is pretty much coming down to McCain versus Not-McCain at this point, and smart conservatives are going to start swallowing Romney as "acceptable" if their alternative is McCain. Florida's close right now but I think whoever wins is going to be labeled the "frontrunner" and it'll carry votes for that person on Super Tuesday. For a split convention for the Republicans a very precise set of circumstances would have to occur, and I just don't see that happening with a national media and the internet the way we have communication today.

After all the talk for the last year about the new, inspiring state of the candidates, I'm begrudgingly starting to accept that the race is going to be Clinton versus Romney... and I while I'll vote for her I'm not really optimistic about it. But the idea that there's going to be a fight on the floor to get either of them there isn't happening. The media would love otherwise, but we're going to know without a doubt who the candidates are in about two weeks.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:38 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

er, there is at least three factions in the R base nowadays, the social conservatives (Huckabee), fiscal conservatives (Romney) and the security types, which was McCain's initial base of support. McCains two main weaknesses is his unwavering support of the Iraq war and the stance he has taken on undocumented immigration.
I fail to see how Clinton is any less power hungry then any of the other candidates, and the parenthetical line about her wedding vows to obey Bill as a back-door to him running the government again is either a joke or kind of idiotic.

I would LOVE to see floor battles for the nomination. On the D side if it came down to speeches I think Obama has the edge. I don't know about the R side, probably McCain because he is their best hope of winning.
posted by edgeways at 9:46 AM on January 24, 2008

If the Republicans have a brokered convention, I give even money that Dick Cheney emerges as the winner.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:59 AM on January 24, 2008

Hate to say it, not because I don't think XQUZYPHYR's analysis isn't astute, but because the idea of Romney versus Clinton makes my skin crawl. But I think if I had to place a wager I would put my money down on things transpiring as XQUZYPHYR suggests. Both parties will do almost anything in their power to avoid a brokered conventions. Both parties have too much at stake -- and too much interest in keeping the convention a stage-managed infomercial.
posted by blucevalo at 10:01 AM on January 24, 2008

never used baby shoes: That citizens united link is... well, words fail me. That they have a woman modelling the T is even worse. What's next, the acronym on a pair of panties complete with blue star crotch? Despicable.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:02 AM on January 24, 2008

I don't know that I can vote for somebody who would say something like this:

Clinton was similarly vague about how she would handle special interrogation methods used by the CIA. She said that while she does not condone torture, so much has been kept secret that she would not know unlesselected what other extreme measures interrogators are using, and therefore could not say whether she would change or continue existing policies.

"It is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn't doing. We're getting all kinds of mixed messages," Clinton said. "I don't think we'll know the truth until we have a new president. I think [until] you can get in there and actually bore into what's been going on, you're not going to know."

Seriously? We just don't know enough about what's going on to say whether or not she'd continue existing policies?

We know people are being waterboarded. We know waterboarding is torture. How is Clinton's position any better than Mukasey's?

If she can't bring herself to stand up to Bush on torture in the Democratic freakin' primary, what's she going to be like in the general election? Or in the Oval Office?

I don't want another Republican in the White House. I'm just not sure that rewarding the Democrats for nominating someone who acts like a Republican is a smart long-term strategy.
posted by EarBucket at 10:15 AM on January 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

That said, the Citizens United thing is repugnant. Lovely to see the alleged party of Christianity showing its true colors.
posted by EarBucket at 10:20 AM on January 24, 2008

Fortunately, Citizens United Not Timid is opposed by my new 527 organization, Americans Seeking Salvation, Hope, Optimism, Life & Enjoyment.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2008

The kind of gutter idiocy represented by "citizens united" is much more likely to backfire against them than it is to affect Hillary's candidacy. I don't worry about that. What I'm concerned about is hearing all about what sort of personal hijinks Bill has been up to in these past eight years (with the implication that the immoral Hillary tacitly approved it all), replaying the whole Whitewater and Travelgate nonsense, resurrecting Monica Lewinsky, so on and so forth.
posted by psmealey at 11:02 AM on January 24, 2008

Re: Winner-take-all

For 2008, the Democrats changed the rules. All Democratic primaries this year will assign delegates proportionally. There are no winner-take-all states on the Democratic side. 15 percent is the minimum required to receive delegates.

So even if Obama loses by ten points in large states such as NY or California, he can still be in the game.

DKos is somewhat of a bickering cesspool right now but occasionally someone posts something wonky and informative about the primary process. This diary explains how the battle could continue after February 5 and is some of the best analysis I've seen so far.

Republicans still have some states with a winner-only system. However, California is proportional for Republicans. which should help keep the process chaotic on that side.
posted by pandaharma at 11:05 AM on January 24, 2008

I should also note that the Democratic primary in California is open. If Obama can attract enough independents then he could get a pleasant surprise there.
posted by pandaharma at 11:11 AM on January 24, 2008

So even if Obama loses by ten points in large states such as NY or California, he can still be in the game.

and to add to what pandaharma said: in every primary contest so far, despite lagging in the popular votes, obama has matched clinton delegate for delegate. and i wouldn't be surprised to see edwards brokering a deal to pledge his delegates in exchange for a spot on the obama ticket, should his candidacy ultimately prove unsuccessful. given the already close delegate count between clinton and obama, the addition of edwards' delegates would put obama well over the top to cinch the nomination.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:36 AM on January 24, 2008

i think she's power hungry

pyramid termite, curious why you say this. I hear it about Hillary a lot. Is she more power hungry than Obama, a politician elected at two levels, to Hillary's one? Is it because she's been in the White House once but, FLOTUS not being sufficient for anybody, wants to live there again as POTUS? Because I'm seeing nothing more than a professional politician, and seeking power is what they do, by definition (leaving aside their motives).
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2008

edgeways I'd argue that there are just two Republican factions: Church Republicans and Money Republicans. The neocons are a segment of the Money Republicans, security isn't their real aim, its just their chosen method of funneling tax dollars into corporate pockets.

And the Church Republicans are my big hope this cycle. If Huckabee can stay in the race a bit longer it'll enrage them all the more if he loses in the end. Hopefully enough that they'll stay home on election day.

As for Sen. Clinton, I'm continually stunned and dismayed at the degree of animosity directed her way. I personally dispise her politics, she's a Republican in disguise, just like her husband, but I'd rather have her than any of the genuine Republicans, and I'll vote for her gladly if she gets the nomination. The deep, visceral, hatred of HRC seems, to me, to be mostly rooted in a deep, visceral, hatred of any woman who isn't a brainless Stepford Wife.

I'd rather Obama got the nomination, even though I don't think he's got the will to fight. Edwards is the closest match to my actual political preferences (though he's too right wing, really), but I don't think it much matters who gets in as long as they're officially part of the Democratic party. Any Democrat will be taking, roughly, the same legion of inside the beltway twits, the same DNC whiners, etc, so I wanna go for the symbology and nominate Obama because I don't think there will be much practical difference between Obama, Clinton, or Edwards. Clinton, also for symbology, is my second choice.

On topic. Damn I hope the Republican convention is brokered. That'd be like a dream come true.
posted by sotonohito at 11:44 AM on January 24, 2008

Calling a politician "power hungry" is like calling a business person "entitled". You may find them unattractive qualities for people to possess, but they are pretty essential qualities to those wanted to succeed in those arenas.
posted by psmealey at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2008

"Conventions like this were common in the 19th century, when party bosses in smoke-filled rooms determined the nominees. When no-smoking bans started to appear all over the place, the parties had to adapt, so the current primary/caucus system began to take shape."

OK, that just made me laugh right out loud (lrol).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2008

sotonohito writes "As for Sen. Clinton, I'm continually stunned and dismayed at the degree of animosity directed her way. I personally dispise her politics, she's a Republican in disguise, just like her husband,"

You're stunned and dismayed that people agree with you? If she takes the nomination, I stay home and vote against all of the above. I'm not going to vote republican, but I'm also not going to vote for someone because they're on the right team. The whole team sports mentality in US politics, the idea that you should support your side no matter what, is a big part of the problem. You're right, she's a DINO, and I don't see the point in choosing between two republicans.
posted by mullingitover at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

I don't want another Republican in the White House. I'm just not sure that rewarding the Democrats for nominating someone who acts like a Republican is a smart long-term strategy.

Not to mention giving Republicans a "ultra-librul" poster child who is actually right of center. Talk about shifting the frame.
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

The deep, visceral, hatred of HRC seems, to me, to be mostly rooted in a deep, visceral, hatred of any woman who isn't a brainless Stepford Wife.

She's not a brainless Stepford Wife, but a woman who allows her husband to play the bad cop and refer to her campaign as "our" campaign is no feminist guiding light. It's distressing to any one with feminist leanings to see Bill Clinton brought out as a big gun after she failed to win Iowa on her own. I don't want Bill back in the White House, accountable to no one but still deeply involved in poltics. If Hillary was really a feminist candidate she'd be able to win the nomination on her own, with Bill being no more than supportive spouse and Democratic statesman. If Hillary can't fight her own battles without her husband, I've no use for her as first woman president.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

The deep, visceral, hatred of HRC seems, to me, to be mostly rooted in a deep, visceral, hatred of any woman who isn't a brainless Stepford Wife.

respectfully, sotonhito, i disagree. i think a lot of us felt pretty uncomfortable with the direction the clinton administration took on a number of key domestic and foreign policy matters (including welfare reform, nafta, expansion of executive powers, etc.). by the end of bill clinton's stint in office, i for one relished seeing him go (little did i know how much worse we could do). much of the groundwork for the expansion of executive power under bush was laid by clinton, in my opinion. also, i think you're right about clinton II being a republican in disguise. at wellesley college, she was president of the young republicans, after all, and she once wrote: "i sometimes think that i didn't leave the republican party as much as it left me." so yet again, do we really need another moderate republican in office, masquerading as a reformer? besides on every issue that matters to me personally--health care, the iraq war, the militarization of the american economic base, torture, domestic spying, suspension of habeas corpus, energy policy, and on and on--clinton's stated positions are flaccid if not outright evasive.

another thing, more on topic: why are all the election analysis sites carrying forward with CNN's "projected" outcomes chart showing clinton with such a dramatic lead, when these projected results are highly speculative and potentially prejudicial, as even many of the sites reprinting the chart quietly seem to acknowledge?

CNN is keeping track of the delegates for the Democrats and for the Republicans. Note that other sources may differ because CNN is trying to count the PLEOs (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) and when different reporters call a PLEO and hear "Well, I like Hillary, but Barack has his charms too" they may score it differently.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

saulgoodman and the others. Opposing Clinton on policy isn't what I'm objecting to. Its the "ugh, she's so power hungry" type crap that I don't get. She's *power*hungry*? WTF are the other candidates then, innocent little choir boys who don't know that the office they seek has a lot of power?

Saying "I won't vote for Clinton because she's a DINO" is one thing, but that isn't what most of the real Clinton bashers are saying. See: the "funny" ballbusting HRC nutcracker, and the "funny" CUNT T-shirt for two relatively recent examples. That isn't opposition to her politics, that's just misogny plain and simple, as are the "power hungry" comments.

Which is why, despite my opposition to many of her positions, I'd vote for her happily. Because, as the Rude Pundit so tastefully put it: fuck 'em. And by "'em" I mean the misogynist twits.

And, finally, yes, I'll vote to get the lesser of two evils. In 2000, I voted Nader because I didn't think it really mattered [1]. I think the past 7 years have rather horribly illustrated that the difference between bad and worse matters a lot. Yeah, Clinton's policies annoy me, but can you really say that another 4 years of Republican idiocy will be better?

I'd rather Obama got the nomination, but I'll vote for whatever candidate the Democrats come up with; not that my vote will matter (again, I'm Texan). Of course, unless you live in one of the states that matter (AKA "swing states") your vote won't count either. Yup, that Electoral College really did the trick, there's no ignoring of the nation at large to focus on a few areas thanks to its benevolant genius.

[1] And, as a Texan my vote doesn't matter, the electoral votes from my state will go to the Republican candidate, even if he kills, skins, and eats a human baby on national television.
posted by sotonohito at 12:33 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Obama is most definitely still in the game, and by some interpretations is actually winning. The media is spinning it otherwise, of course, but the truth's gotta come out sometime.

Just look at Nevada. I was feeling pretty down Saturday night, as all the networks were reporting that Clinton had "won" the caucus. After all areas had reported in, she beat Obama by about 600 "votes".

But that was not the case. I later learned that the popular vote is not reported publicly (and rightly so, since it's a caucus and as such the raw numbers are irrelevant). The numbers given out by the networks were a count of the county delegates. The thing is, the county delegates are an intermediate step in the process -- only the state delegates get to vote at the convention. And, since Obama won 11 of the state's 17 counties, the caucus math worked out to give him 13 state delegates to Clinton's 12.

That's huge. Obama came from 20+ points behind for months to best Clinton by one delegate in the final week or so. The same pattern held true in earlier contests. Clinton may have defeated him in New Hampshire, for instance, but they received the same number of delegates, and after months of Clinton leading polls, no less.

The hidden narrative here, I think, is that Clinton has been the presumptive nominee for so long that she enjoys high numbers by default. But once the contests in individual states heat up and people pay more attention to the race, Obama's support strengthens quickly. I also think the delegate count is very important -- Clinton is only ahead in superdelegates, most of which pledged their support early when she still had inevitability. They can change their votes at any time, and I don't think they'd vote against the candidate who has proven most effective at winning pledged delegates.

Things are tightening up, and the momentum is shifting. It's no wonder the Clinton campaign has been going increasingly negative and dirty as time goes on...
posted by Rhaomi at 12:33 PM on January 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

sotonohito: "The deep, visceral, hatred of HRC seems, to me, to be mostly rooted in a deep, visceral, hatred of any woman who isn't a brainless Stepford Wife."

That may be true for some, but not all, or even most. I don't support her because she strikes me as corrupt, and lacking integrity and good judgment. Just look at the shiftiness of her Iraq war vote. At least Edwards has the gumption to admit he was wrong and work to fight against what he voted for. Clinton, OTOH, has the air of doing and saying whatever is popular at the time (Flag burning? Violent video games?) -- unlike Obama, who spoke out strongly against the war before it started.

She's also disgusted me with her more recent campaign tactics. She and her people seem to have no qualms about distorting and outright lying about Senator Obama and his policies, something which I have not seen a lick of out of Obama's campaign. I will not support a candidate that had to stoop to such shameful lows to seize victory from a much more honest rival.

But more importantly, a vote against Clinton is a vote against the worst parts of the Democratic Party. Clinton is surrounded by DLC members, the people who want to shift the party from its populist base to a more centrist "Republican-lite" mode that will (they say) win more votes. In my (admittedly limited) political experience, this increasing moderation and dilution of left-wing principles has weakened the party, not strengthened it. If Clinton wins, she'll bring in that whole cadre of moderates and Blue Dogs to remake the party in their image. Out goes Howard Dean, the 50 State Strategy, and building a people-powered party from the ground-up, and in comes a spineless, cynical establishment attempting to imitate the early successes of the Republicans.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

See: the "funny" ballbusting HRC nutcracker, and the "funny" CUNT T-shirt for two relatively recent examples. That isn't opposition to her politics, that's just misogny plain and simple, as are the "power hungry" comments.

ah--i see your point sotonohito.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:53 PM on January 24, 2008

I think that characterizing her as power hungry is perfectly fine. If a politician triangulates positions and clearly picks "values" at the moment for political expediency, they are not in politics to advances a cause, the nation, or a set of values. They are in the game for their own personal exaltation and power. When they go absurdist mud-slinging cherry-picking negative in the primary they are putting their own personal position above what their party (and allegedly, they) stand for. I think that RG is a power hungry bastard because of a) his positions and b) how he's conducted campaigns and offices. I think the same thing of HRC. The remarkable thing about Obama is that he does not appear to be bullshitting us like this.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2008

I absolutely refuse to vote for a Clinton Restoration.

posted by empath at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2008

Obama has been asking an interesting question of late, regarding his crossover appeal versus Hillary's: "I have no doubt that once the nomination contest is over, I will get the people who voted for her. Now the question is can she get the people who voted for me?" Given the sleazy tactics that the Clintons have been employing of late, it seems likely that they will not.

Thus Democrats, true to stumbling form, seem on the brink of nominating the GOP's dream candidate -- a bogeywoman who energizes the GOP base while depressing Independents and a large chunk of Democrats. In an election cycle in which voters on both sides are desperately seeking change and a fresh start, the Democrats are going to nominate the only status quo candidate in the race. Brilliant.

(My prediction? McCain gets the GOP nod, and wallops Hillary.)
posted by william_boot at 2:23 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Okay, seriously. What the high holy fuck is a Clinton "dynasty?" Two Clintons? That's not a dynasty; that's Clinton's wife also being president. What other Clintons do you see running for president? Chelsea, who has shown no interest in political electoral activity whatsoever? Roger? Whatever dog replaced Buddy when he got run over? And what exactly makes a "dynasty" because Clinton gets another eight years? I'm not totally clear on all the parts of the Constitution but I recall that after a second term a person who is NOT Hillary Clinton will then have to become president. That sort of kills the concept of a life-long permanent family hierarchy of power. Seriously, what is this stupid "dynasty" shit? They talked about a Bush "dynasty" because it was generational and, like the Kennedys, there's a fucking litter of them all across America. There is no Clinton cabal. They don't have a brood. They have Paul Begala.

There's a list of problems with a second Clinton presidency longer than my arm but the "dynasty" crap is just that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:26 PM on January 24, 2008

XQYZYPHYR, you are clearly too young to remember the devastating effects of the Adams dynasty and the Roosevelt dynasty. I shudder to think what would have happened to our democracy if Andrew Jackson had not somehow halted the Adams juggernaut at John Quincy! We could still be under their dynastic yoke!
posted by kyrademon at 3:22 PM on January 24, 2008

. What the high holy fuck is a Clinton "dynasty?" Two Clintons? That's not a dynasty; that's Clinton's wife also being president.

The problem is that not only do you have a constitution that forbids a president running for more than two terms, but that many associate as fundamental to what it means to be American. World leaders who are on the political stage beyond their constitutional limits (such as Putin) get terrible press in the media. Bill Clinton is no Putin, but the sentiment is the same: he's running for president again. I find it a bit disingenuous that he is actively involved in the campaign, and while he is not violating the letter of the law, at least seems to be violating the spirit.

Should president's be forbidden to be political after their term expires? No, Carter being a good example about how you don't have to spend your days fishing in Maine once you retire. There's a large difference from being seen as an elder statesman or influential commentator and actively running a presidential campaign for your wife.

That does not mean I am oppose to the wife of a former president running, by any means. She has turned to running a campaign based largely on the idea of Bill and Hillary Clinton bring a lot of experience to the table. But I'm not electing Bill, am I? Bill isn't accountable yet will be making or at least helping in the decision making process. Will Bill take one for the team, a la Colin Powell? How will that be handled? He does some UN stuff for awhile and comes back clean and redeemed?

Sorry, but even without the negative campaigning I am uncomfortable with this Bill and Hillary Clinton team. While on the surface it seems like a great combination, in reality things are often muddled greatly. Take, for example, Mark Funkhouser, mayor of Kansas City. He ran on the campaign that he and his wife would have a "kitchen table administration." This has been a catastrophic political move. It turns out to be very hard to run an office, even a mid-size city office, with two bosses and one who isn't accountable but still kind of counts but how do you handle that and then nothing gets done. To make it worse, it allows his wife to be attacked directly in the press and beholden to all sorts of slander and dirty tactics. I would imagine this would be much worse, if not the roles reversed, in the case of the Clintons.

I do very, very much enjoy the return to Clinton politics. This is classic political maneuvering and seems refreshing after years of hearing Bush talk in code to evangelicals.
posted by geoff. at 3:23 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

The funny thing about a McCain vs. Clinton matchup would be that each of the parties somehow nominated a candidate that depresses their base. Conservatives of all stripes seem to despise McCain for reasons I'll never completely understand.

McCain would have a substantial edge amongst independents but that edge could be nearly completely erased if Clinton would constantly run ads with footage of McCain talking about being in Iraq "for 100 years." Also, this article at Reason gives a good primer on the sort of dirt the Clinton campaign would air on McCain.

Thats one area where Hillary does represent change. Unlike Democrats of the recent past, she would be in this fight to win and would fight like a cornered dog. No rolling over and playing dead and hoping the mean animal goes away like Kerry did. I could almost support her for that reason alone, despite substantially disliking her in other areas. The Republican nominee would be in for one hell of a ride if Hillary is his opponent.
posted by pandaharma at 3:37 PM on January 24, 2008


Roberts is 52. Alito is 57. Thomas is 59. Breyer is 69. Souter is 68. Kennedy is 71. Scalia is 71. Ginsburg is 74. Stevens is 87.

The next president will likely replace some Supreme Court justices, and all of the liberal justices are over retirement age. I do not want the Supreme Court to be dominated by conservatives for decades, so I will be supporting and voting for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

posted by kirkaracha at 5:04 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

"If you vote for my husband, you get me; it's a two-for-one, blue plate special." -- Hillary Clinton, 1992
posted by kirkaracha at 5:07 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

From the Notebook of Lazarus Long:

"If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for...but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires."

By: Robert Heinlein
posted by Freen at 6:17 PM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bill Clinton is no Putin, but the sentiment is the same: he's running for president again.

I'd heard a little of this, but I always assumed it was tongue-in-cheek. You seem very earnest though, so I have to ask: who holds this sentiment? Is it a European thing?
posted by yath at 6:43 PM on January 24, 2008

I'm so glad this thread degenerated into discussing the candidates!

My take on why people say HRC is power hungry is that (IMO) she has done more to try to gain power than the other candidates. Perhaps some of the others would (if female) suffer their husband's dick being sucked by an intern while he was president and his lying under oath about it, and STAY MARRIED TO HIM, but we'll never know. More pertinently, unlike the other main candidates (I think), HRC moved to a state where she had never lived and was elected to office there. Maybe that demonstrates her electability (although could she have been elected senator in Arkansas?), but it also demonstrates that she was willing to move in the hope of gaining credibility of some sort.

On a separate note, I believe that the U.S. public will not elect Romney for the same reason that it didn't elect Kerry. Not because they're both from Massachusetts, but because they have the charisma of a fucking robot. (At least, I really hope we don't elect Romney, because he held down Cape Wind, and that really saddens me.)
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:52 PM on January 24, 2008

Oh, and to clarify, although I prefer Obama, I would still vote for HRC over any Republican, even McCain, because I think she'd be a competent President, despite everything she's gone through to get even this far.

But I really hope Obama gets the nomination, because I really don't want to see Bloomberg run and split the people who would otherwise vote the Democratic nominee into office.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:08 PM on January 24, 2008

I'd heard a little of this, but I always assumed it was tongue-in-cheek. You seem very earnest though, so I have to ask: who holds this sentiment? Is it a European thing?

That part was a bit tongue in cheek, but I don't think I need to go any further than The Onion article and Maureen Dowd's recent op-ed to show that I'm not the only one who is a little weirded out with Bill Clinton's campaigning.

I believe that Bill really, really enjoys campaigning, but I am not naive enough to think he'd spend his time in the White House reorganizing his record collection. It is unprecedented, but do we really want to establish a tradition of extending the two term limit via marriage? If HRC were running without the heavy campaigning of Bill, I would not be so opposed. They appear to try to be running as a team, and we don't elect teams, we elect one president. And there should only be one president. At the very least make him VP so there's some legitimacy there, that I'd actually be okay with. But the tag team is kind of, well, weird.
posted by geoff. at 9:31 PM on January 24, 2008

NYTimes article:

" The Clintons have come full circle: They are truly two-for-the-price-of-one in this presidential race. Mr. Clinton used that phrase when he first ran in 1992, only to back off after voters raised eyebrows, but now the Clintons are all but openly running together as a power couple ready to take office in 2009. Mrs. Clinton views him as a full partner, her advisers say, relying on him over the last few weeks to salvage and steer her campaign."
posted by oneirodynia at 11:43 AM on January 25, 2008

oneirodynia: If Hillary can't fight her own battles without her husband, I've no use for her as first woman president.

Look, I'm as ambivalent about the Clintons as anybody, but this is a ridiculous and insulting sentiment. It's your conventional (read: sexist) assumptions that are gendering the situation. For Clinton's campaign to be properly feminist, for you not to see her as overly-reliant on the men around her, do all her advisers and spokespeople need to be women? (To temper how this sounds a bit, I get that you're probably more worried about how Clinton relying on the strengths of her husband appears to the general public than you are about the reliance itself; still, the commentary just strengthens the double-standard).

On preview (I let this comment sit while taking care of other things), seeing your NYTimes quote, the frustrating thing is that running as a couple raised eyebrows in 1992. Presidents are always surrounded by advisers, some of them cabinet members, some of them not. That one might be Clinton's spouse shouldn't be too shocking, especially since she was clearly relied on similarly when he was President (at least until things went bad).
posted by nobody at 12:31 PM on January 25, 2008

Interesting Legal Fact:

Since Bill Clinton is not a candidate or an office holder, there are no limits to the amount of money that could be spent by anonymous third parties attacking him and his record.

Just a thought.
posted by empath at 4:42 PM on January 25, 2008

I don't see why marriage is special here... ANY candidate could run for office with a former President as a close advisor and, if they wanted to, simply do everything the former president said once elected (This is one of the many, many reasons why term limits are stupid). The idea that marriage is necessarily special seems to me like just more sexism. After all, I know a lot of people who listen to their friends more than they do their spouse.

And hey, if voters don't like it, great --- they can simply not vote for her. This is not fucking Putin, this is a free election. At least it's up-front that Bill is obviously going to be involved (just as Hillary was in his presidency). Who knows what people are lurking in the shadows of the other candidates? In general, I would expect a presidential spouse to have a huge influence, and thinking otherwise is foolish. The good (and bad) side of the Clintons is that we have an idea what that influence will be. Not as clear with Obama or the Republicans.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:02 PM on January 25, 2008

Bill Clinton was a fantastic, charismatic and compelling candidate, but he was not a terribly effective or even a good President. Clinton rode a wave of progressive optimism into the White House in 1993, and essentially failed to get one single goddamn progressive agenda item enacted into law. And then, on the heels of many, many failures, he fucking quit. When his party lost control of Congress in 1996, he then took up a new tack and started to take credit for every "era of big government is over" piece of bullshit right wing legislation that came for the next six years, spinning his political emasculation into some kind of bizarre centrist virtue. Clinton told us what we wanted to hear, but he was about as progressive a political leader as Ronald Reagan. That he still has this weird halo can only be explained as an accident of history.

I suspect Hillary is not all that far left of Bill in the grand sweep of things politically, but I do think she is smart, and has an independent spirit, some willfulness and balls (inappropriate yes, but failing to think of a more apt term) that Bill has never had. I think Barack has more of all of that, but I just don't see party players aligning behind him.

In the end, I'll support Hillary if I have to, but it has nothing at all to do with Bill. In fact, it might be despite (or to spite) Bill.
posted by psmealey at 8:22 PM on January 25, 2008

My take on why people say HRC is power hungry is that (IMO) she has done more to try to gain power than the other candidates.

and done so in a rather obvious and grasping manner

I would still vote for HRC over any Republican, even McCain, because I think she'd be a competent President

that's the part that scares me, frankly - she would be VERY competent at what she wanted to do, whether it be a war with iran or further limiting the civil liberties of americans

i do not trust her


Look, I'm as ambivalent about the Clintons as anybody, but this is a ridiculous and insulting sentiment. It's your conventional (read: sexist) assumptions that are gendering the situation.

it's my read of the clintons that she's been the brains and guts behind both of them all along - i never liked him and and i can't stand her
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 PM on January 25, 2008

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