Friday, February 22, 2008

Clinton: Texas Doesn't Count!

Well, that's basically what she was saying in a discussion concerning whether or not she would press to seat Michigan and Florida delegates:

We do not want to be disenfranchising Michigan and Florida. We have to try to carry both of those states. I’d love to carry Texas, but it’s usually not in the electoral calculation for the Democratic nominee. Florida and Michigan are. [Emphasis added.]
Read the whole snippet of this interview that Clinton gave to get the full context. Now, I understand what she is saying. She's basically saying that the Democratic Party shouldn't alienate Michigan and Florida delegates because these are states in the General Election that are up for play between Republicans and Democrats. And it is also true that Texas hasn't really been up for play in the General Election since, well, before Ronald Reagan; and has been solidly Republican in national Presidential elections.

However, she shouldn't be going around campaigning in a state whose Democratic delegates she so desperately needs, saying that Democrats in Michigan and Florida matter in November but that Democrats in Texas don't. It's a sign of the 51%/49% Rovian electoral strategy that people are generally sick and tired of, and which is associated with a pattern of politics that plays negatively for Clinton. If I'm a Texas Democrat, and if I thought my vote didn't matter in November, why then would I bother voting in March for the person I hope would win in November. Voting in March is a prelude to hopes and aspirations for success in November. We have primaries so that we can seat candidates we think can win in November, and not just win other states, but win OUR OWN states.

It seems to me that what Clinton is conveying to Texas Democrats is the following: "You only matter to me for the little bit that I need you for. And beyond that, forget it, you're no longer important." (Aside: Where have Louisianans felt treated like this before, I wonder??) And this especially doesn't jive with the line she is selling in Texas to Democratic Voters that she needs them to help turn Texas "blue" in November. I can't find a clip of this, but I saw Hillary Clinton say this specifically in her post-debate speech to Democrats at the Democratic Party headquarters in Austin. It was part of her opening lines.

So, Hillary is telling Texas Democrats from one side of her mouth that they matter and that their votes could move Texas's electoral votes from Red to Blue in November. And, in fact, this is what Texas Democratic voters need to hear. But, then, in her cynical play for Michigan and Florida electoral votes, she indicates just the opposite to Texas Democrats ... that their votes in November aren't as important as those of Democratic voters in Florida and Michigan.

On the flip side, what she is conveying to Obama-supporting Democrats in Michigan and Florida is that their states' electoral votes only matter if Hillary gets her way regarding the seating of delegates in an unfairly contested election that benefits her and doesn't give Obama or his supporters a fair shake in a fairly-contested election.

It's a disastrous lose-lose strategy, if you ask me. It's a sign of a truly desperate candidate who is preparing to lose Texas (which she desperately needs to win in a big way), and banking on a spurious strategy of relying on obtaining delegates in an underhanded and devious way, a way that is not likely to prevail anyway.

If I were Obama, I'd pound this over and over again. I'd use Clinton's dismissive treatment of Texas's importance to Democrats in the General Elelction in November to bury her. In her efforts to promote a strategy regarding Florida and Michigan that probably won't pan out anyway, Hillary has just set herself up to be targeted as a cynical user of Texas Democrats that can cost her the "firewall" she needs to make her Michigan and Florida strategy viable in the first place. Obama should capitalize on this in the most positive way. He should stick to his line of building successful electoral coalitions that can, indeed, turn "red" states "blue." And I can't think of any Democrat in Texas who wouldn't want to hear this and who wouldn't be charged up to think of this as a real possibility.

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