So Much for Healing

A campaign blog.
May 31 2008 7:48 PM

So Much for Healing

The first half of today’s RBC meeting was all about "unity"and healing. The second part, not so much.

After an extended lunch break, the panel returned with a setof resolutions. The first, presented by committee member Alice Huffman,proposed seating Florida’sentire delegation. Even before it was voted down, Clinton supporter Tina Flournoy mourned thatthe resolution had "no chance of passing this body." "That saddens me," shesaid. "It really does." The motion failed, but it was closer than most peopleexpected, 15-12. Instead, the committee unanimously passed a motion splittingthe Floridadelegation in half. When DNC Secretary Alice Germond tried to soften the moodby describing her experience hearing MLK speak in Washington, D.C.,the Clinton-friendly crowd booed. Okay,you won, the boos said. Just don’tpretend it’s democratic.

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Things turned even more sour during the Michigan discussion. The committee passed amotion adopting the Michigan Democratic Party’s 69-59 split, but giving eachdelegate only half a vote. The solution nets Clinton five delegates. (If you include Florida, she netted 24 delegates today.) Even before the vote,everyone knew how it would turn out. Clintonsupporter Don Fowler voiced his disappointment with the resolution, but said hewould vote for it anyway. He then addressed Harold Ickes. "This is my position.I respect and love you, but this is what I think we should do."

Ickes, after a pause, leaned into his mic. "We find itinexplicable," he said, speaking for himself and Clinton, "that this body thatis supposedly devoted to rules is going to fly in the face of other than … thesingle most fundamental rule in the delegate selection process. That is fairreflection." As far as he’s concerned, fair reflection—the notion that delegateallocation must reflect the true vote—is "analogous to the First Amendment ofthe U.S. Constitution." He went on: "The motion will hijack, remove fourdelegates from Hillary Clinton." (In Michigan’sJan. 15 vote, "Uncommitted" won 55 delegates; the solution gives him 59.)"There’s been a lot of talk about party unity," he said. "I submit to you thathijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path of partyunity."

Committee member Ben Johnson tried to push back, denouncingthe "propaganda" disseminated by "one of my colleagues that makes it sound likethis motion will hijack" some delegates. But the damage was done. Clinton supporters chanted "Denver! Denver!"from the balcony. Every time a committee member said the word "vote," someonefrom the audience would yell, "You mean half!"

If the goal of this meeting was to take a step toward partyunity, its final moments don’t bode particularly well. At the end of hisspeech, Ickes left us with "one final word: Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserveher right to take this to the Credentials Committee." An ominous warning for partyhealers everywhere.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

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