Clinton rages into the night as Democratic race ends

11:39 am - June 1st 2008

by Alan Thomas    

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The Democratic Party’s rules and bylaws committee yesterday effectively ended the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to become the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.

For those of you who don’t know, the Obama campaign agreed to a compromise whereby the disputed delegations from Florida and Michigan would be seated, but with half a vote each. In the case of Michigan (where Obama did not appear on the ballot paper) the impressive 40% of ballots which were cast for “uncommitted” delegates will instead be allocated to delegates for Obama, presumably on the basis that these ballots were cast as “anyone but Hillary” votes.

Given that due to deliberate breaching of party rules aroung the timing of primaries these states were originally barred from voting at all, by consent of all the candidates including Clinton, it would seem that this is extraordinarily magnanimous on the part of the campaign that has legitimately won within the rules.

But of course, we are talking about Hillary Clinton here. Her surrogates are now talking about how terribly unfair this all is, and threatening to appeal the decision yet again. Harold Ickes has reserved Clinton’s “right” to appeal to yet another party committee, on the basis that the uncommitted Michigan delegates should not be allocated to Obama. Of course, he neglects to mention that the technically correct thing to do would be not to seat any Florida or Michigan delegates at all, and thus leave Hillary even further away from the nomination than she is now.

As an outside observer, what has really struck me about all this is that I have actually begun to understand why Republican voters seem to despise the Clintons so much more than any other pair of Democratic figures. There is a sheer naked lust for power and sense of entitlement to high office that has run through Clinton’s announcements and choices throughout this campaign. The bitterness that has become evident following Obama’s meteoric rise from distant also-ran to front runner at the beginning of this year is distasteful to watch, running from her own unlikely reinvention (how many is that now?) as champion of the hillbillies to her husband’s mutterings about supposed media conspiracies to deprive her of the nomination that is rightfully hers.

It is behaviour like this which has built up Clinton’s negatives to the point where the late Jerry Falwell felt able to state that the Democrats could not pick a better candidate than Clinton to galvanise the core Republican vote – even if the alternative candidate was Lucifer. The irony is that by playing the game of anger and reaction in such a transparent way, Clinton may have provoked a backlash against the very “white working class voters” (ie Appalachian uneducated rural dwellers of Scots-Irish descent) whom she claims to champion. Examples can be seen on the internet, including comments such as this from a user on

If they’re not ready for the 21st century that’s their fucking problem. The rest of the country won’t be held hostage by the ugly, racist, backwards-ass beliefs of a bunch of broke-ass losers. Let them keep voting for the GOP who only screws them anyway. If they can’t see beyond their racism and xenophobia and bitterness to see who actually offers them the best program to address their economic interests, then they’re too fucking stupid to care about anyway.

This is not, obviously the sort of sentiment that the Obama campaign or anyone around it would endorse. But it is evidence of the destructive sentiments which Clinton continues to stir by pointlessly remaining in the race. Elements of the Democratic coalition could fracture off, thus allowing John McCain an unlikely victory in November, in what should by all normal indicators be a Democratic year. Is indulgence of Clinton’s sense of entitlement to the keys to the White House really worth risking such an outcome?

Drop out now, Hillary. For all our sakes.

Sunny adds: A Hillary Clinton supporter at the delegate seating convention:

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About the author
Alan Thomas is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He is a blogger, a political activist and a lay member of Unite-TGWU. His main interests outside of UK left politics are in Turkey, Kurdistan and the USA. And is also always delighted to write about wine and fine food when he's in less of an intellectual mood. Also at: Shiraz Socialist
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Reader comments

I honestly think she wants McCain in the White House, so that she can take another shot at it in 2012. Of course, at this rate, her party may not have forgiven her by then, but I think she thinks that’s her best option.

2. Alex Parsons

“It would seem that this is extraordinarily magnanimous on the part of the campaign that has legitimately won within the rules.”

Uh,what? Is this a strange version of the rules is this where the guy that doesn’t have 2,117 has ‘won’ within them? Sure, it’s become increasingly impossible to see how he won’t win, but it’s just plain untrue to say Obama has won by ‘the rules’ – if he had this race would be over.

If we’re going to talk about entitlement, you seem to have brought into the idea that any vote not cast for Clinton ‘belongs’ to Obama. I’m not sure we should really call a candidate who came out with delegates from people who didn’t vote for him ‘magnanimous’. Can you really not see the difference between seating half-votes as they were voted for and reallocating them because the candidate wasn’t on the ballot? This is going to the convention anyway, ‘uncommitted’ delegates will swing to Obama pretty fast.
The smart thing to do would have been to seat ‘uncommitted’ delegates, it would have got them the delegates they wanted in the long run whilst removing any possible avenue of complaint by the Clinton campaign. That truely would have been ‘magnanimous’, shame it didn’t happen.

That comment does show the split in the Democratic party, but it’s a different group from the one you think. It’s the Obama supporters who seem to think that anyone who votes for Clinton is a racist and that it’s genuinely is impossible at the two and think ‘these people aren’t that different,but I like what Clinton’s saying better’. These people are destroying any idea of party unity by constantly deride Clinton and her supporters ‘not real Democrats’, on the principle that anyone who thinks that Obama is perhaps not the best thing since sliced bread is obviously a Republican at heart. But who’s fault is this? Right right, it’s Clinton for not giving in. Obviously.

I’m still amazed the British left has got this excited over a candidate who, not only doesn’t support a universal health care system, but has effectively recreated the Republican ads of the nineties opposing it. Meanwhile Clinton, that symbol of the ‘old politics’ and all that is wrong with the Democratic party, is all over it. But Obama is Change right?

If people were really going to shout-down people who weren’t offering the best economic plan, then John Edwards would still be in the race. It’s not the fact that Clinton’s remained in the race that’s divisive, it’s the fact that lots and lots of people keep voting for her. If Obama wants unity, he needs to show them that he understands that people really do think Clinton has pluses and make some gestures (but gestures with meaning) in their direction. Dropping his ass-backwards healthcare plan would be a great start.

I think you’ll find the British left haven’t tended to get themselves in a fuss over Obama, they were all for Edwards until he dropped out. Besides, the ruling on Michigan is a great one, as it shows Hillary that if she thought she’d be getting a free huge majority for being the only person on the ballot worth voting for then she’s got another thing coming. It’s ridiculous to me that they even considered including Florida and Michigan’s votes at all considering how the rules were clearly stated from the beginning. You know Clinton wouldn’t be making this fuss about them if she was ahead on delegates.

Oh, and it’s things like his healthcare plan that are the reasons why he is more likely to swing republican votes towards the democrats than Clinton. What exactly is terrible about his healthcare plan exactly?

5. Alex Parsons

Let’s not pretend all is forgiven: The DNC rules state half-votes, that’s what’s now happened. Not to seat swing states would be one of those things that you’d look back to as a reason why you’d lost. I also have no problem in there being delegates from Michigan not for Clinton, but delegates for Obama is not what were voted for and ‘uncommitted delegates’ would doubtless swing to Obama anyway.

I don’t accept that Obama should be taking into account Republican’s flawed thinking on healthcare this early in the cycle. In years where the Democrats are in an enormously good position, they shouldn’t feel the need to compromise right from the start. Compromise can come later but they need to start off with a firm foundation, Obama not only isn’t but is actively eroding the foundation of those who are.

In terms of what exactly wrong with it, go look for Paul Krugman’s stuff on health care but the basic point of contention is that Clinton’s plan contains mandates for everyone to buy health care (whilst providing ways to help those who can’t afford it), whilst Obama’s plan doesn’t use mandates and hence leaves millions uninsured – which as it turns out works out more expensively than if you use mandates to get universal coverage.

What’s truly bad is the campaign Obama’s run against Clinton’s plan (example here : , which not only peddles things that are false, but is a direct lift of a Republican campaign against a Democratic health plan. Any kind of unity that involves not only courting Republican votes but repeating their smears isn’t one that’s worth much.

Alex. Aside from your obvious pro-Clinton sentiment on this issue, I’d ask you to consider this:

1) Both Florida and Michigan broke Democratic Party rules on when to hold their ballots.

2) All of the candidates including Clinton agreed that as a consequence their votes should be disallowed.

3) Only when she found she couldn’t win without the votes of one state where she was the only candidate on the ballot, and another where nobody campaigned, both of which she’d previously agreed should be disqualified, did Clinton start whining about this.

Ergo, they broke the rules. Protocols were agreed, which every other candidate stuck to and which Clinton has sought to revoke now that she’s reduced to such a level of desperation to hold on to what she sees as her entitlement, namely the nomination. Obama stuck to the agreed rules, she has not. As far as I (and most reasonable observers, I think) see it, he’d have been well within his rights to tell her to go whistle for “her” delegates. As it stands he’s agreed to a magnanimous compromise in the interests of party unity. And it’s still not good enough for her, because she doesn’t get to “win”. I think that speaks to both of their characters in different ways.

It’s over. She needs to drop out already, and let’s get the Obama-McCain contest underway.

I’m still amazed the British left has got this excited over a candidate who, not only doesn’t support a universal health care system, but has effectively recreated the Republican ads of the nineties opposing it. Meanwhile Clinton, that symbol of the ‘old politics’ and all that is wrong with the Democratic party, is all over it. But Obama is Change right?

There are various reasons why not just the British left but the American left has also gotten excited over Obama.

He is intelligent, articulate, great at motivating lots of people, has run an absolutely superb campaign, has shown he can take on the Republicans effectively, is following a 50-state strategy to ensure that Democrats can reclaim areas they allowed the Republicans to dominate for decades, has a better foreign policy, was always against the war in Iraq, has energised young Americans… the list is bloody endless.

And I hate to break it to you but just because Clinton believes in universal healthcare doesn’t mean it will happen. Like Parliament here, she still has to get it approved and the support of others within the party. This will mean she will have to water it down anyway. The only thing that really matters is foreign policy because the prez is also commander-in-chief. Here, Obama wins hands down.

And no, I don’t believe all Clinton supporters are racist, but there seems to be an alarming number of them making a lot of noise. See the video above and the videos that came out of West Virginia’s primary. Will Clinton reject her racist supporters?

Though, Alan, I would say that just because the Republicans hate her doesn’t mean she is a bad person. If anything, havig Republicans hate you really strongly is a good thing IMO.

Though, Alan, I would say that just because the Republicans hate her doesn’t mean she is a bad person. If anything, havig Republicans hate you really strongly is a good thing IMO.

It depends on why they hate you.

9. Alex Parsons

I really wouldn’t describe myself as Pro-Clinton (but I can see where’d you’d get that), the anti-Clinton points are usually so well covered I don’t feel the need to add anything. ‘Obama has won’ I have little issue with, ‘Obama has already won by the rules’ is something I do because he hasn’t yet. I don’t think for a second Clinton would be pushing this if the tables were turned, but I do think she has some genuinely good points on the matter,

Re FL & ML, It was always assumed the delegates would be seated, but after a nominee existed where it would make no difference either way. This is in retrospect stupid thinking but to proceed without giving something to Florida and Michigan would be held against them at every point in the GE in important swing states. The DNC were put in an impossible position by the states and this was the only sane way out of it. Let’s not pretend Obama’s squeky clean here: He was both on the ballot and campaigned in Florida, but he lost, do you think if the tables were turned he wouldn’t try to get them counted too?

Whilst we’re on stupid DNC thinking, a shorter primary timetable would have solved all these problems. Although the absolute desire to have a nominee before June really isn’t something that’s ever appeared before and I can’t help but see something sinister in it. No candidate who’s done as well as Clinton has ever not taken it to the convention and no one’s ever really questioned their right to until now.

I’m also doubtful over the prospect of universal healthcare but I just find it refreshing to see an American mainstream candidate talk about it seriously. I think that by setting the starting mark higher the inevitable compromise works out in a better way. We’re about to enter a world where the presidential nominee for the Democratic party has poured down a lot of unneeded fire when a Democratic majority might be able to get similar through. I think Clinton’s plan is better in the dream world where everything works, but I think Obama’s fight against it has been extremely damaging to the future of that and similar ideas.

And Sunny I’ll take all of that, especially foreign policy.But I’d also add that a lot of that list does apply also apply to Clinton (with the notable exception of foreign policy and a campaign that’s been a little shaky . Obama’s energizing of young people is impressive but something that’s under-reported is now much Clinton has energized women, drawing them out in record numbers to campaign. But yes, if Clinton dies by the Iraq war it’d be hard to doubt the American public’s judgment. Edwards came out outright and said ‘I was wrong’, it’d be nice to hear something similar. Likewise racism comment (It’d be nice to hear Obama say a bit on sexism too, a sad campaign this has been), I don’t think all Clinton critics charge racism, I think that specific quote Alan brought up was a perfect expression of that class of Obama supporter.

Little anecdote that kind of finishes my point: I’m sitting in New York at the moment and just picked up a wonderful mock US dollar with Hillary Clinton as the President of the Socialist States of America (It’s also an obvious right-wing job featuring the rest of the Democratic party was being worth ‘0 cents’ and was being sold by a pro-Obama shop keeper, go figure). This is the attitude to something as ‘socialistic’ as universal healthcare you’d expect in the states, but this campaign has shown there is huge support for something that’s previously really been unthinkable in US politics, I think this is something Obama and the new Congress will need to take seriously.

10. Elena Bridges

I’d just like to thank Alex for a rare objective opinion on the Clinton/Obama race. I don’t believe that there has been much on this topic that wasn’t filled with vitriol.

I don’t know, I still don’t know why Obama’s healthcare plans are so bad. I’m not saying that universal healthcare isn’t the best situation…but only if it works. Can America jump straight from this system to universal healthcare? I don’t know, maybe I’m cynical but I don’t believe they can simply change it up (aside from Sunny’s points that are also relevant about even passing such policy in to legitimate law).

Obama on the other hand wants to make it more affordable (and if it is actually afffordable, then are people really not going to buy it? My perspective was not that people don’t want to pay for medical insurance, it’s that they simply can’t afford to). He wants to strengthen medicaid, ensure all kids have coverage and take down the barriers to gaining insurance.

In practice this would be a huge leap in effectiveness for getting people the healthcare they need, and if the figures are right then I would have to wonder just how different it would practically be in terms of delivering healthcare to those that need it than a universal system. Plus, as I said before, if anyone was going to get their policy through without major changes then Obama would be able to, you can say that it’s too early to be pandering to the republican element but is that really an objective view or the fantasy view? You say Democrats are in a strong position but the polls say otherwise and have done for months, and that’s ignoring the influence that media powerhouses have to gain republican support, and ignoring any more foul play. It’s a sensible plan to make sure everyone knows exactly where you stand from day one, that way no-one can call you a “flip-flopper” and undermine your position, especially when the healthcare plan he has is generally accepted as a huge positive by most non-socialist democrats.

12. Alex Parsons

Thanks for that Elana, although I’m sure I’ve contributed to the vitriol at times.


The issue isn’t quite that Obama’s plan isn’t as perfect as Clinton’s but that he keeps smearing that plan on flawed principle instead of the practicality of passing.

Taking down barriers to getting insurance is only a good thing if you don’t get rid of the need to have insurance at the same time. Obama’s plan has every potential to make things more expensive, by requiring all insurers to offer the same plan (regardless of current health status) it let’s people wait until they’re actually sick to get insurance and avoiding paying into the pot, increasing the cost for those who did the responsible thing and bought insurance in the first place. Under an Obama plan there is no incentive to buy insurance before you need it, making the whole system pointless if people catch on. The best way out of that is mandates that everyone must buy into the system (whilst at the same time making them affordable, which the Clinton plan is more explicit about), something Obama has ruthlessly attacked using classic Republican lines on the issue.

Another important point is that this covering everyone is not that much more expensive than not: Obama’s plan would cover around half the uninsured at around 80% of the cost of Clinton’s 100% coverage. Obama’s plan isn’t a radically different plan working on different principles, it’s just a flawed version of the same one, stripped of the requirements of mandates that would make the whole thing work. It’s already too late for Obama to reverse this without ‘flip flopping’ and having his own attacks used against him. In short, it’s impossible for Obama to ‘cover every American’ like he claims to. However slim a chance that Clinton in office would get anything like her plan passed, there is absolutely no chance Obama can get a plan that works through because he’s spent so much time tearing down the foundations that would be needed to make it work.

When it comes down to it, I’m naturally inclined to be more friendly to a candidate trying to pander to me and who has a history of firm footing on the issue, rather than a candidate that’s gone beyond pandering to reuse Republican talking-points and hence legitimizing their attacks on past, present and future Democrats.


At the risk of seeming to be in the mood for mischief, remind me which of those two candidates has been the bigger recepient of pharmaceutical company money?

14. Alex Parsons

And there you go sum up exactly why this would be a much more clear-cuut argument if Edwards was still in the race – Clinton’s ‘lobbyists are ordinary Americans just like you’ still wrangles a little, she is far from the perfect candidate.

15. Alex Parsons

And in the interest of never letting anything die and returning to the original subject, it turns out the Rules and Bylaws Committee have the power to decide how to use the rules i.e. how to punish states that break rules, but not actually the power to reallocate delegates. However reasonable it may or may not be is not the issue, by the all important rules those delegates should stay uncommitted (which as I brought up earlier, is practically the same as an Obama win and would have been a smart way out of for all parties, doesn’t give the Clinton campaign another issue to hang onto, etc). This is undeniably breaking the rules in Obama’s favour and the Clinton campaign have every right to call them on it.

Well no, Clinton broke agreed protocols in her own favour when she backtracked on what all of the candidates had agreed about Michigan and Florida’s punishment for breaking the rules on primary timings. She did so only when she realised that her only “shot” at the nomination was to find extra votes from somewhere, as Obama had already got the better of her in the states that did play by the rules. She has partially got her own way with the compromise that the committee agreed. The Michigan Democratic Party is happy with the compromise, and the Obama campaign is willing to put up with it in the interests of party unity. The only person who isn’t happy is Hillary Clinton, because she hasn’t managed to move the goal posts sufficiently to leave herself still in with a chance of “winning”.

I quite agree about Edwards though – if you search through Liberal Conspiracy’s archives you’ll see that I was originally a supporter of his. Obama is very much my second choice, following Edwards leaving the race.

If cover is made more affordable, all kids are getting cover as standard, and medicare is improved, how can you say so emphatically that the work isn’t being made to in practice cover every american? I mean I understand as much as the next person how not giving everyone free healthcare (after taxation or whatever) is the only surefire way to cover 100% and that any other system requires more effort on the behalf of the public, but I still am yet to be swayed as to why his system can’t and won’t cover everyone when the safety net is also considered.

18. Alex Parsons

Ah but my point was even assuming for a sec the compromise were entirely reasonable and accepted by all parties, that that committee doesn’t have the power to reallocate delegates to make the compromise (and you kind of hope no one does, being able to reassign pledged delegates, even when they’re pledged to ‘uncommitted’, would make even more of a mockery of the process). Clinton may have broken the rules to run there (but again, so did Obama to a lesser extent), but that committee does have the power to turn no delegates into half delegates. Half delegates are within the scope of the committee, reallocating isn’t.

And Lee we’re reaching the edge of my competence on healthcare so I’ll just concede that Obama’s healthcare probably won’t trigger the apocalypse and doubtless has a fair bit going for it, my primary objection is that he uses language in attacking Clinton’s and Edwards’ plans that legitimizes the Republican worldview on the issue whilst being misleading about what their plans would actually entail.

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