Clinton Surrogate Says FL-MI Struggle = Civil Rights Movement

| Sat May 31, 2008 12:15 PM EDT

Arthenia Joyner, a Florida state legislator who is making Hillary Clinton's case to the Rules and Bylaws Committee, opened by comparing the struggle to get the Florida delegates counted to the civil rights movement and the fight against apartheid. Joyner should know; she was arrested in civil rights sit-ins and protested outside the South African embassy during the 1980s. Like Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who testified before her, Joyner cited examples of specific primary voters who are being "disenfranchised" by the DNC's decision to strip the state of its delegates. Echoing a common theme of the morning, Joyner pointed out that it was the Republican-controlled legislature, not Florida Democrats, who moved up the state's primary date and triggered the DNC's sanctions.

"You have an opportunity right here and right now to write the people of Florida back into this election's story," Joyner said, citing the U.S. constitution and natural rights in her argument for "righting that wrong".

When asked whether she supported full votes for delegates or the alternative proposal for half votes, Joyner smiled and said: "I've been taught that when you want something, you ask for what you want.... I want it all." Laughs and applause filled the room, especially when Joyner unintentionally echoed Mick Jagger: "in life, you can't always get what you want."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Joyner's not the only Clinton supporter tacitly accepting that 50 percent may be all they get. Earlier today, Matt Drudge posted a video of Bill Clinton speaking at a private fundraiser in late April. "Probably the only option now is to seat them under our rules at half delegates," Clinton seems to say in the video. Watch:

As James Pindell has reported, the 50 percent solution is the most likely outcome of today's meeting:

After 5 1/2 hours of cocktails, chicken dinners, and coffee -- that lasted until 1:30am -- 28 of the 30 committee members generally agreed to the idea that Florida and Michigan would be given half of their delegate allotment instead of none. Less unclear is whether just half of their delegates will be seated or all will be seated, but just given half a vote each. It is also unknown what the breakdown of Clinton to Obama delegates would be for each state. Among the five members who did talk to the press after adjourning there did appear some belief that Michigan would be harder to solve that Florida since Obama's name didn't even appear on the ballot in Michigan.

As I noted earlier, it's not the outcome of today's meeting that matters. It's likely to be an anticlimax. It's the reactions to today's decision—especially in the Clinton camp—that will determine the shape of things to come.

If Clinton supporters' reactions to Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who represented the Obama campaign at the meeting, were any indication, the shape of things to come may be a bit of a problem. In marked contrast to Joyner's speech, Wexler's speech was regularly interrupted by boos and hisses. And that's the rub: While even Joyner and Bill Clinton acknowledge the possibility of accepting a 50 percent solution, that compromise is incredibly unpopular among the hardcore Clinton base. "Count Every Vote" shirts are everywhere inside and outside the Marriot, where the meeting is being held. The Clinton supporters are unhappy now, and no decision has even been made. We'll see how they respond after the committee rules.

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.