Blogs

Even Utah Not Thrilled to See Bush

Boy, did I get an earful from my mother this weekend! Not because I haven't come to visit lately, but...

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 11:33 AM EDT

Boy, did I get an earful from my mother this weekend! Not because I haven't come to visit lately, but because the president has. My parents live in Park City, Utah, which last week played host for a few hours to George W. Bush. When I spoke to my mom on Saturday, she was still fuming that Bush had some nerve coming to her town, mucking up traffic, forcing kids to stay out of school, scaring people with helicopters, and then sticking the local taxpayers with $30,000 in security costs, all so Bush can raise money for John McCain, who is afraid to be seen in public with him. What really irked my mom was that just two days after Memorial Day, not a second of Bush's visit involved paying a brief sympathy call to one of the many families in Utah who've lost loved ones in Iraq. Instead, Bush spent his time at the vacation manse of Mitt Romney, chatting up people who'd paid $35,000 a piece to get in the door.

My mom, admittedly a huge Hillary Clinton supporter, was practically spitting as she described how Bush and his enormous entourage that included no fewer than five military helicopters not only failed to meet a single non-donating peon during his visit, but also occupied 80 rooms at the exclusive Stein Erikson Lodge in Deer Valley, where suites even in the off-season will set you back $600 a night. The lodge is the most expensive, swanky resort in all of Park City, with twice-daily maid service, European spa offerings, four-star restaurants, and access to many mountain bike trails.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Prominent Clinton Backers Slowly Backing Off

Despite Terry McAuliffe's insistence that the race is not over and may not even be over when Obama gets to...

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 11:31 AM EDT

Despite Terry McAuliffe's insistence that the race is not over and may not even be over when Obama gets to the (new) magic number of 2,118 delegates, the Clinton campaign is facing a serious challenge from within. Key surrogates are weakening in their support.

Here's former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack:

"It does appear to be pretty clear that Senator Obama is going to be the nominee. After Tuesday's contests, she needs to acknowledge that he's going to be the nominee and quickly get behind him."

Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

"It would be most beneficial if we resolved this nomination sooner rather than later... The more time we have to get through a general-election period and the more time we have to prepare in advance of the convention, the better."

Bush Pep Talk to Generals: "Stay Strong! Stay the Course! Kill Them!"

Here's an example of the President's motivational and oratorical power, from the autobiography of retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez....

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 11:10 AM EDT

Here's an example of the President's motivational and oratorical power, from the autobiography of retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. Bush is speaking to his national security team and generals after the famous 2004 incident in which four contractors were killed in Fallujah:

"Kick ass!" he quotes the president as saying. "If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can't send that message. It's an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal."
"There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"

Can you imagine what Bush's inevitable commencement speeches are going to be like in his post-presidency? "Take the road less traveled! Dare to be great! Follow your dreams! Be confident! At those times Jesus carried you! Kick ass!"

At DNC Meeting, Obama Rules

The rule-breaking Florida and Michigan primaries will count, but not as much, and not how Hillary Clinton wanted them...

| Sat May 31, 2008 9:17 PM EDT

barack-obama-pointing-250x200.jpg

The rule-breaking Florida and Michigan primaries will count, but not as much, and not how Hillary Clinton wanted them to, the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee decided Saturday in D.C. The Clinton campaign had asked that both states' delegations be seated in full, with full votes, according to the results of the states' January primaries. Instead, the 30-member RBC, citing party rules and the possibility of setting bad precedent for next primary season, voted to seat Florida and Michigan's delegates with a half-vote each.

In addition to halving the votes of Florida and Michigan delegates, the rules committee endorsed the Michigan Democratic Party's compromise 69-59 split on Michigan delegates. It was a move that especially enraged Clinton supporters. The Clinton campaign had asked for the 73 delegates it says she won in January's disputed primary, with 0 delegates going to Obama, who was not on the ballot. In Clinton's plan, the 55 remaining delegates would have been seated as "uncommitted" delegates, and would function essentially as superdelegates.

Not even the Clinton campaign's best-case scenario would have netted her enough delegates to catch Barack Obama in the delegate race. Still, today's decision, which netted Clinton just 24 delegates, was clearly a disappointment to the New York Senator's camp. But the Clinton campaign still had a choice. They could calmly but strongly express their disagreement with the decision, as Clinton adviser and rules committee member Harold Ickes did after the vote on the Florida delegation didn't go his way. Or they could cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the decision and accuse the rules committee of "hijacking" the will of the voters. That's what Harold Ickes did after his side lost the vote on the allocation of the Michigan delegates:

"I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters," Ickes said. "Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path to party unity," he added. Then came the kicker: "Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee."

Harold Ickes Is Not Happy

It seems obvious now that there is majority support for the solution supported by the Michigan Democratic Party. That would...

| Sat May 31, 2008 7:40 PM EDT

It seems obvious now that there is majority support for the solution supported by the Michigan Democratic Party. That would mean 69 delegates for Hillary Clinton and 59 for Barack Obama (with each delegate getting one-half vote).

But Harold Ickes (and, by extension, Hillary Clinton) are very unhappy. "I am stunned that we have the gall and the chutzpah to substitute our judgment for 600,000 voters," Ickes said. He used the word "hijack" a lot, and said "Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path to party unity." The big news of the day was the final words of Ickes' argument: "Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the credentials committee." If the crowd in the meeting room is any indication, Mrs. Clinton's supporters want her to exercise that right.

It could be a bluff. But make no mistake: if Hillary Clinton takes this dispute to the credentials committee, she'll be going to the mattresses. Most of the top leaders of the Democratic party have indicated that they do not support this process extending to the convention. If Clinton wants to go down that road, she'll face a lot of opposition.

Before the final vote, Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer got a final chance to speak in favor of the motion supporting the party's 69-59 split. He thanked the committee for its consideration and promised to work hard for the Democratic nominee.

The measure passed, 19-8.

Now it's time to wait and see how the Clinton campaign responds. If Ickes' speech opposing the motion was any indication, they won't respond well.

Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver! Denver!

The Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting is getting fairly raucous. When the motion to fully seat Florida's delegation failed, the...

| Sat May 31, 2008 7:28 PM EDT

The Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting is getting fairly raucous. When the motion to fully seat Florida's delegation failed, the crowd started shouting: "Denver! Denver! Denver!" The debate is being constantly interrupted by heckling. But Alice Munro, speaking in the debate over giving the Florida delegates half-votes, called for unity. After having supported the first motion, Munro said: "The world's not perfect, but it's good. What this party needs is unity." Ickes echoed her sentiments.

The motion to give the Florida delegates half votes passed with 27 yes votes.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Rules Committee Votes Against Fully Seating Florida

The RBC returned after a three-hour lunch with a motion that Florida's delegates be seated in full with their full...

| Sat May 31, 2008 7:09 PM EDT

The RBC returned after a three-hour lunch with a motion that Florida's delegates be seated in full with their full votes. The Clinton supporters on the committee apparently forced the vote. In support of her motion, committee member Alice Huffman emphasized that the Florida Democrats were not responsible for changing the date—that was the Republican-controlled legislature.

David McDonald, who opposed the motion, agreed with Huffman that it was not the fault of Florida voters that their primary didn't count. Yvonne Gates, who also opposed the motion, said "What we were trying to do was to respect the rules. It was not the voters fault. But when you have rules, they must be followed. And if they're not followed you have chaos."

Tina Flournoy, who is one of the two most avowed Clinton support, said she planned to "strongly support" the motion although it "has no chance" of passing.

Other committee members spoke in favor and against, but it was obvious that the motion was doomed from the start. It failed, 15-12.

Remember That "Smoke-Filled Room" Everyone Told You About?

That smoke-filled room you've heard so much about is apparently where the members of the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee...

| Sat May 31, 2008 6:19 PM EDT

That smoke-filled room you've heard so much about is apparently where the members of the Democrats' Rules and Bylaws Committee are as of 5:30pm on Saturday. They adjourned for lunch at 3:00 and have yet to return to the meeting room. Rumors of back-room deals are flying about. We could be waiting a lot longer, too: the committee members had "5 1/2 hours of cocktails, chicken dinners, and coffee" last night, according to James Pindell. Then again, they were up until 1:30. Maybe they're just catching some collective shut-eye.

Somehow I doubt it. I'll get you more news as soon as the meeting resumes.

Clinton Rep.: Uncommitted Delegates Could Switch "In August"

Whoa there, tiger. Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, who is representing the Clinton campaign at today's Rules and Bylaws Committee...

| Sat May 31, 2008 3:30 PM EDT

Whoa there, tiger. Former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, who is representing the Clinton campaign at today's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, just drew the first boos from the Obama people in the audience. Blanchard, discussing the uncommitted delegates that the Clinton campaign wants assigned from the Michigan primary, said that while most would probably go for Obama, they could be "switching back and forth" "in August." A not-so-subtle signal of Clinton's plans to take this to the convention, perhaps?

That's not the only controversial statement Blanchard made. He also claimed that "no one in Michigan," including "the news media" "was saying the votes wouldn't count" in January. That seems unlikely.

More when the committee comes back from lunch later this afternoon.

Obama Campaign: Primary Contest Will Soon "Come to a Close"

The Obama campaign has exhibited excellent message control throughout the primary process. Saturday's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting was no...

| Sat May 31, 2008 2:45 PM EDT

The Obama campaign has exhibited excellent message control throughout the primary process. Saturday's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting was no exception. The campaign's two official representatives at the meeting, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and David Bonior, a former member of Congress from Michigan, made sure to slip one telling claim into their testimony: that the primary contest will soon "come to a close." Even while they're arguing this issue out, the Obama people are still looking towards the general election.