The world woke up this morning to the knowledge that Hillary Clinton won the Florida primary for the Democratic Presidential nomination. If we are to believe the Democratic National Committee and Howard Dean, this Clinton victory, like Michigan before it, is meaningless, as the delegate slates will not be seated at the Democratic Convention. This is as a punishment to those two states for cutting into the established line of primaries set forth by the DNC, and agreed to by all the candidates for the nomination.
So why is Hillary Clinton smiling?
The first reason is obvious. Just days after Barack Obama handed her her backside in the South Carolina primary, any good news for the Clinton campaign is welcome. One year ago, it was presumed that Clinton would have solidified her hold on the nomination by this time in the primary/caucus process. Now the Clinton camp finds themselves in the fight of their lives against Obama, with every sanctioned race highly contested between the two candidates.
Securing the nomination is all about delegate counts. With a close two-way race, the unseated delegates in Florida and Michigan may very well prove to be the margin of victory. If they are seated, which the DNC is currently stating that they won’t be.
The Clinton camp is currently working very loudly behind the scenes to browbeat the DNC into seating the delegates from Michigan and Florida. Thanks to her attempted end run around the current nominating rules, Howard Dean is now placed in a no-win situation. If he seats the delegates, he risks the wrath of the large number of new voters that the combination of Barack Obama and the malfeasance of George W. Bush have brought into the nominating process. If he doesn’t seat the delegates, it will more than likely start a fresh wave of criticism from James Carville and the other DLC types who opposed him as head of the DNC in the first place, and who are now mostly in Clinton’s camp.
After polls closed in Florida, Hillary Clinton mysteriously appeared in the state. Despite the fact that all candidates had agreed not to campaign there, the Clinton camp took the strategy that since the polls were now closed in Florida, it wasn’t technically "campaigning". This is the same attorney-like parsing she uses on the campaign trail attempting to explain her vote to authorize the Iraq War. It also bears a striking resemblance to "it depends on what your definition of is is". And she criticizes John Edwards for being a trial lawyer? That’s rich.
Ever since I was a boy and engaged in contests ranging from tag and kickball to Monopoly and Battleship, there has been a word for people who attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game. The word is cheater. By attempting to amend the rules of the nominating process to which she agreed, Hillary is trying to cheat her way to victory just as much as my brother was whenever he tried to move his aircraft carrier in Battleship after the game started.
On January 20, 2009, we will have somehow survived (if we’re lucky) 8 years of this kind of behavior emanating from the current denizen of the Oval Office. Putting a Democrat in the White House shouldn’t be about subsidizing the underhanded for the sake of the Executive Branch operating under a Democratic banner. It should be about real, honest change in direction and policy for the country. Replacing one cheater for another guarantees that the only change will be on the nameplate on the door.