Sunday, June 01, 2008

When Strategy Backfires

Only an intentional, purposeful, well planned effort could have produced something more bizarre than the astonishing screw-up that is the Democratic Party’s season of primary elections and caucuses. Such a magnificent calamity is difficult to imagine, let alone to create.

Is it difficult to believe that in dreaming up a plan that became such a horrific nightmare that no one on the Democratic National Committee actually asked the most important question, a question that should always be asked before someone does something: What might go wrong with this idea?

Had someone asked that question, perhaps the answer—that one or more states wouldn’t follow the rules and would move their primary forward—might have occurred to somebody? And the next question might also have occurred to someone: if that happens, what if some of the candidates campaign in those states, and others don’t?

Apparently, Democrats make Party rules the same way they make law: they don’t think very far down the road after they get a brainstorm. Whatever the cause, the fiasco that occurred Saturday as the DNC tried to make sense out of the senseless mess that it made of presidential primaries must have been truly painful. Reports from the scene reveal a meeting that started out badly, and got uglier as time passed. One report noted: “But then, about nine hours into the seemingly interminable gathering, the crowd turned nasty and the appearance of civility, along with any hopes for party unity, never quite returned.”

How could it have been otherwise?

Can you fault Hillary Clinton for campaigning in Florida and Michigan, even though those states didn’t follow the DNC’s rules? Can you fault Barack Obama for not campaigning, knowing that Florida and Michigan didn’t follow the rules? Having held primaries in Florida and Michigan where Democrats dutifully expressed their preference, how could the DNC simply ignore those votes? They couldn’t, of course. But how on Earth could there be some fair and equitable resolution to this mess? The answer to that is, there can’t be. And that is precisely what occurred Saturday: an unsatisfactory result was reached, because it could not be otherwise. Barack Obama is the beneficiary of all of this chaos, and Clinton supporters are outraged. Some of them have even threatened to vote for John McCain, as expressed by Pennsylvanian Betty Jean King, who told reporters: "If it's not Hillary, I'm voting for McCain. Seventeen million people voted for Hillary and I'm telling you many of them are going to defect."

So much for party unity.

With this enormous chasm in the Democrat Party, and the inherent weaknesses of its leading man, one wonders how the Democrats can possibly prevail in November.

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