Any minute will might get news from the Rules Committee.
How might a writer script this week’s events to make them as dramatic as possible?
Consider the following improbable scenario. And even if all these unlikely events did occur, the party leaders will bring things to a rapid and orderly conclusion. Surely.
How might a writer script this week’s events to make them as dramatic as possible?
Consider the following improbable scenario.
Saturday, May 31
The Rules Committee meets. Pro-Clinton protesters demand that all MI and FL delegates be seated. The Committee restores 50% of Florida’s votes (one half vote per delegate) and allocates 55% to Clinton, 35% to Obama, and 10% to uncommitted. The Committee restores 50% of the Michigan vote (one half vote per delegate) and allocates 50% to Clinton, 25% to Obama, and 25% to uncommitted. The uncommitted delegates must abstain from voting on the first ballot.
Howard Dean meets with the press. He says that the Rules Committee had a difficult task and was limited as to what it could do. Legal counsel advised that they could not restore any more than 50% of the vote to the states. Also, they could not assign anymore uncommitted votes to Obama. Dean thinks the resolution was fair.
Senator Clinton is interviewed by the press. She claims a victory for the people of MI and FL, promises to fight on for their full rights at the convention, notes that FL and MI now give her a lead in the popular vote (by her count), and predicts a big win in PR.
Senator Obama is interviewed by the press. He states that the Rules Committee reached a fair, even generous, compromise, that their decision gave the people of MI and FL a voice at the convention. It is right for all voters be heard. By Tuesday, he says, they will be. By Wednesday, he expects the winner to be clear. What counts and what has always counted is total delegates. By Wednesday, he will lead in total delegates and his lead will be insurmountable. Now, it is time for the final contests. On Wednesday, when the primaries are over, it will it will be time for the Party to reunite.
Sunday Morning, June 1
Clinton and her surrogates go on all the Sunday Morning talk shows. They repeat her claim, prediction and promise of the day before. Obama and his surrogates follow her. They remind viewers that delegate count is all that matters, that the Rules Committee decision added to his total, that PR will boost it further, and that MT and SD will put him over the top.
Clinton wins PR. She gets 18 more delegates and 300,000 more votes than Obama.
Obama is in Chicago. He congratulates Clinton for her victory. He says that she has made him a better candidate and helped generate enthusiasm among voters, as demonstrated by the large turnout in PR. He notes that his share of the PR delegates puts him within reach of the nomination, which expects to wrap up with MT and SD on Tuesday.
Clinton makes her victory speech for PR in SD. In her speech, she claims that her string of lop-sided victories, her lead in the popular vote, and her strength in key electoral vote states all prove that she is the best candidate to beat McCain. She cites the Gallup analysis (Saad, May 28) on her advantage in swing states and invites voters in MT and SD to join the majority of Democratic voters and support her.
Monday and Tuesday, June 2 and 3
Obama crisscrosses MT and SD. Clinton focuses on SD.
Obama wins MT by double digits. Clinton wins SD by less than 1%. Despite his SD loss, Obama nets enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination.
Obama’s staff announces that he will make an important statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Clinton addresses an “On to the Convention” victory party in NYC. She congratulates Obama on MT. She then claims that her SD win proves that voters are still torn between the candidates. Even after a long primary season, there is no clear winner. Obama, she says, expected to win both states, but he didn’t. She repeats that she is the most popular candidate, the most electable candidate, and that only she can win in the swing states that Democrats must win. The convention, she argues, will have to choose the candidate. So she will fight on -- for the remainder of MI and FL votes, for average Americans, for working families, and for women. It’s her duty. She will fight to insure a Democratic victory in November.
Wednesday, June 4
Obama returns to Springfield, IL. He stands in front of 20 newly declared Obama superdelegates. These previously uncommitted superdelegates include Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Dennis Kucinich, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, Ron Wyden, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, George Mitchell, Donna Brazile, four Congressmen, and six Congresswomen. The group is not overly male. It includes people recognized by, elected by, and respected by the public.
Obama thanks the people of MT and SD. He congratulates Clinton on her final win. He introduces each of the twenty superdelegates and announces that all of them waited for the primaries to end and that all of them have decided to support him. He thanks them.
Now Obama lays out the math and keeps it simple. “The primary season is over. 2026 delegates are needed to win the nomination. Senator Clinton has 1920. I have 2100. My lead is insurmountable. Senator Clinton fought hard. She is a worthy opponent. Her tenacity and strength informed us all, made this a historic contest, and made me a better candidate. I admire her and thank her. But it is now time for Democrats to unite and prepare for the hard work ahead.”
“We are in Springfield where my campaign started. We are in Springfield where Lincoln’s campaign started. In Lincoln’s day, our nation faced great dangers. In our day, the Nation faces new dangers. Our challenge, like that of Lincoln, is to unite the country [yes we can], overcome our differences [yes we can], reject the failed policies of George Bush [yes we can], beat McBush [yes we can], and chart a new path, a better path, for the American people [yes we can].”
After the speech, the 20 new Obama superdelegates mix with the press. They explain why they decided on Obama and why they waited until now.
Thursday and Friday, June 5 and 6
Thirty more superdelegates declare for Obama, 15 on Thursday, 15 on Friday. His total reaches 2150.
Clinton’s funds are drying up. Ten pro-Clinton superdelegates approach her privately on Friday. They explain that it is time for her bow out; otherwise, they fear, many of her superdelegates will switch to Obama. They would prefer to go down in history as supporting her. The group suggests that Hillary take the weekend to consult her family and advisors.
Sunday, June 8
Obama makes the rounds of Sunday talk. The discussion is about his VP, his cabinet, his strategy against McCain. Clinton and her staff decline all invitations.
Monday, June 9
Clinton suspends her campaign, but she does not drop out. She vows to fight at the convention for the full voting rights of MI and FL to be restored.
Tuesday, June 10
Clinton’s staff meets privately with Obama’s. In return for full cooperation and support, Clinton wants Obama to assume $5 million of her campaign debt, find positions for several supporters, publically offer her the VP position (which she will publically decline), and later nominate her for the Supreme Court.
A few days later
Obama’s staff privately counters, offering Clinton only part of her list.
Two days later
Clinton accepts Obama’s counter.
One week later
There is a big event, perhaps in front of Congress. Reid speaks, then Clinton, then Obama, then Pelosi. Handshakes and smiles all round. It’s a Kodak picture of party unity. Everything is cordial. There is no hint of a snub. Bill Clinton is visible in the background, but he doesn’t speak. He smiles and applauds. The 2008 race for the Democratic nomination is over. The 2016 race has begun.
Barack and Hillary start campaigning, but not together. Her role is to help him with women, Hispanics, and in the swing states where she won. She makes a national ad endorsing Obama. She makes second ad speaking to women. “Our day will come. Because of my strong campaign, that is inevitable.”
At the Convention
Hillary mounts and loses a performa floor fight for the additional MI and FL votes. She gets a prominent time slot to addresses her female supporters. “Our day will come. Today, we support Barack Obama. Tomorrow, others will support us.” She is offered the Vice-Presidency but declines it. Across America, millions of women cry.
After the Convention
Senator Clinton campaigns forcefully for Senator Obama and against McBush. When Obama wins, Hillary shares center stage with Barack and his Vice-President. She has fully restored her party standing and is ready to run in 2016 (or 2012 if needed). She will consider the Judgeship when the time comes. There will be a book and a movie. For the first time she thinks about the movie. Who would play her? Who could play her? She smiles. There is something different about the smile. It’s real.
But this is a film script, not a political likelihood. Senator Clinton will not gain that much from the Rules Committee. Or from Puerto Rico. SD will not even be close. And even if all these unlikely events did somehow occur, the party leaders will bring things to a rapid and orderly conclusion. Surely.