Archive for February, 2008

MY SOLUTION TO THE SUPERDELEGATE PROBLEM: CRUDE, BUT NO WORSE THAN THE PROCESS THAT GAVE US BUSH

February 13, 2008

A lot of people in the Democratic Party are becoming noticeably nervous. Seriously nervous. Mail from the IRS nervous. Because pundits have been doing the math at a feverish rate lately, and their calculations indicate that neither Clinton nor Obama may go to the Convention in Denver with sufficient “earned delegates”–those won through primaries, caucuses or state conventions–to equal the magic 50 percent plus one required to start dropping the balloons.

Some hear unattractive echoes of the 2000 election, decided in courtrooms, or the 1968 convention, which left the party riven and bleeding.

You probably know the gist of the situation: If the two candidates more or less tie in their accumulated earned delegates, the nomination may be decided by the votes of the superdelegates, a group composed of party officeholders, officials, and others with juice.

Some of these superdelegates are already committed to Clinton or Obama, but not enough of them to decide the nomination. This leaves the uncommitted supers.

How they should vote is becoming a nagging and potentially troublesome issue for the Dems. Should they vote for their actual preference? Or should they vote with the candidate who is “the people’s choice”–the one who accumulated the most earned delegates? And if the latter, should they vote for the candidate who won a majority in their state, or for the candidate who won a majority nationwide?

On the one hand, they only hold office because of voters in their state, and should represent their constituents’ wishes. On the other hand, this raises the possibility of the candidate with the most votes nationwide losing the delegate vote, a ghastly proposition which would raise comparisons to the Bush victory in 2000, a thought that makes Dems physically ill.

If this thorny little situation weren’t upsetting enough, there is also the matter of the delegates won by the candidates in the Michigan and Florida primaries, whose votes might decide the issue, but whose delegates won’t be counted because their states held primaries in violation of party rules.

Or will they?

On the one hand, rules are rules, and if the Democratic Party knuckles under to Michigan and Florida, why should any state bother obeying them in the future? Let’s have our primary on Christmas Eve! On the other hand, how can a party face itself if it gives a voice to a select body of superdelegates but not to the actual Democratic voters in our 4th and 8th largest states?

The fundamental problem is that, however these questions are answered, someone will lose out. If the supers vote by state, that would favor Obama; if by national totals, Clinton. If Florida and Michigan are allowed to caucus, the losing side will complain that the rule-breaking states were allowed another bite of the apple.

These decisions will be made by party professionals, who will have a fairly good idea what the resulting outcome will be. As a consequence, as John Diaz noted in his editorial in Sunday’s “Insight” section, “one group of Democrats is likely to be disillusioned by the process and the result.”

The next step, dreaded by all, might be litigation by, or on behalf of, the losing candidate. This raises the nightmarish possibility of an ultimate determination made by a Republican Supreme Court, which, for all the Dems know, could award the nomination to Kucinich.

What, then, to do, if the candidates arrive in Denver separated by a mere handful of delegate votes?

Here is my modest suggestion. Flip a coin.
Seriously.

Every election cycle, one or more local elections winds up decided this way. There is nothing inherently unConstitutional in the notion. Nor would it capriciously determine the direction taken by the Democratic Party; there are probably more ideological and policy differences between the Olsen twins than between Barak and Hillary.

Most importantly, the process would be absolutely impartial, devoid of favoritism or manipulation, with each side having a precisely equal chance of winning. There would be no ensuing rancor, blame, division or bitterness.

And when it comes right down to it, which would you have more confidence in when it came to determining the political future of the United States: a decision made by career party politicians, or random chance?

To imbue the ceremony with gravitas and portent, we could use the same coin they use at the Superbowl.

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NOT THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO START THE DAY

February 2, 2008

I woke up this morning with two things bouncing in my head. The first was a snatch of dialogue from a movie script I’m not working on.

SHE: It’s time that I told you the truth. I’m not really your older sister. I’m your mother.
HE: Oh my God. This is not good. This is real bad.
SHE: No, we can work this out together.
HE: No, it’s not that. It’s the video camera I hid in your bathroom.
SHE: What?
HE: Hang on. I’ve gotta go kill the U Tube posting.

The other thing was a kind of ill-tempered song parody, to be sung to the tune of “Abraham, Martin, and John.” If I knew how to work U Tube, I would have actually performed a little piano bar version of it, but I’m clueless there. You don’t know how lucky you are. Anyway…

Anybody here seen that bastard Rumsfeld?
Help me track that shithead down.
‘Cause of him a lot of good people, they died too young
He should be horsewhipped all day long

Anybody here seen that bastard Cheney?
Help me track that asshole down.
‘Cause of him a lot of good people, they died too young
We won’t be happy til he’s hung

Anybody here seen that bastard Bush?
Help me track that scumcake down.
‘Cause of him a lot of good people, they died too young
I can’t wait til that prick’s gone

Anybody here seen that bastard Adolf?
He killed six million, that’s so wrong.
He sits in Hell and waits for Rummy, Dick and Dubya
Hope he don’t have to wait too long.