What did the Democrats decide to do about Florida and Michigan?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 1 2008 7:06 AM

The New Math

Everyone leads with the Democratic Party deciding it will seat all Florida and Michigan delegates at the party's convention this August, but it will grant those delegates only half a vote each. The decision nets Clinton 24 total votes at the convention and increases the number of votes needed to win the nomination to 2,118. To varying degrees, all the papers say the compromise is too little, too late to be of much help to the Clinton campaign.

The Los Angeles Times describes the deal as a compromise between Obama supporters' plan to split the two states' delegates equally and the Clinton camp's desire to see all the delegates seated with full voting rights, apportioned strictly by ballot results. While Florida was split along ballot lines, Michigan proved trickier. The Washington Post reports that the committee decided to rely on exit polling as well as ballot totals while working out the Michigan delegate allotments. In the end, they awarded all uncommitted Michigan delegates to Obama, along with four delegates that would have gone to Clinton under a ballot-only deal. While the Obama campaign expressed satisfaction with the decision, at least one Clinton spokesman has said Clinton may appeal the decision later this summer. The New York Times says the new count leaves Obama 176 delegates ahead of Clinton.

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The party's Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on the decision at a public meeting, following five hours of testimony and three hours of backroom negotiations. Votes were greeted with cheering, booing, and hisses, with Hillary supporters reacting especially strongly. The WP catalogs the displays of outrage at the meeting, while the LAT focuses on Clinton supporters' feelings of betrayal at the hands of the party and the media.

In its analysis of the decision, the NYT concludes that while the party's ruling won't force Clinton out of the race, it may help her come to terms with her increasingly long shot at the nomination. The paper cites "associates" of Clinton's in claiming that she's slowly becoming resigned to the idea that she will not be the nominee. The paper also says the decision may help undeclared superdelegates come off the fence. The paper claims aides in both camps expect that within 48 hours of the final two primaries on Tuesday, Obama will have enough superdelegate support to clinch the nomination.

The WP runs a preview of today's Puerto Rico primary, which is expected to be Clinton's last win.

Each of the papers also includes an item regarding Obama's decision to sever ties with Trinity United Church of Christ. Obama's affiliation with the church had been a source of controversy for months, most recently because of a guest preacher's sermon that accused Clinton of weeping over "a black man stealing my show." Obama stopped short of denouncing the church, according to the NYT. The WP reports that Obama will most likely not pick a new church until January.

The NYT fronts a feature on China's quest to lead the Olympic gold medal count this summer by dominating rowing, among other events. China is focusing resources on training for the sports that offer the most chances for medals, even if Chinese athletes have historically performed poorly in those categories.

The WP reports on stabilizing conditions in Basra, saying that a military operation spearheaded by the Maliki government has scattered the city's many militias and brought at least a measure of temporary calm. In some respects the piece is quite similar to a story the LAT fronted in its Saturday edition, but where the LAT focused on the political big picture, the WP's story is about how this new political landscape is affecting everyday people. It's notable that it's the Iraqi military, not U.S. forces, bringing stability to the city, and yet there are still questions about what will happen to Basra when the current offensive is over.

Meanwhile, the NYT reports that fewer than 10 Jews are left in Baghdad, a city that was home to more than 130,000 Jews a little more than 50 years ago.

For your Sunday morning enjoyment, the WP fronts a sharply written piece on a copyright lawsuit over that "footprints in the sand" poem.

If you're skeptical about the ability of $600 rebate checks to stimulate the economy, you're not alone. The NYT goes under the fold with data that shows most people plan to use the money to pay bills, buy gas, or save it for future expenses. The paper does concede that paying off bills now could allow some consumers to splurge later on, since it could improve their sense of financial security. But even then, the paper's sources say, the benefit would be all but gone by the end of the year, since rebate checks don't fix the underlying problems with the economy.

The LAT fronts a feature on women in Arab media and entertainment who reflect shifting perceptions of gender and morality in the Islamic world.

Women buying individual health insurance may pay a higher premium if they've had a cesarean section, reports the NYT. Women who've had one c-section are more likely to need another.

Inside, the LAT covers the closing of one of the last FEMA trailer parks in Louisiana, with some residents still struggling to find permanent housing three years after Hurricane Katrina.

The NYT covers a continuing shift in political attitudes among younger evangelical Christians. The paper argues that some evangelical groups' growing focus on fighting poverty and injustice has diminished their ties to the GOP. The paper finds that younger fundamentalists are more interested in evangelism than political activism.

The WP reviews Scott McClellan's "somewhat limp" book recounting his years in the White House press office.

The LAT says the Supreme Court may take up a case over whether or not fantasy baseball leagues (and their use of players' names and stats) are protected as free speech.

The NYT would like you to believe that "Tiger Woods is the consolation for our mortality."  Despite that horrific bit of hyperbole, the piece isn't a bad assessment of the man's gifts. If you want the skinny version of the argument, stick with the accompanying online video.

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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