Come to Me, Bend to Me — How Clinton Ended Her 2008 Campaign
Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse playing the "come to me, bend to me" game on a Hollywood stage (source). The version on the political stage looks a little different. Click to enlarge, and please do; the image is gorgeous.
by Gaius Publius
Hillary Clinton has claimed many times that she ended her 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama in a timely, graceful and supportive way. Clinton to Maddow (my emphasis):
“Then-Senator Obama and I ran a really hard race; it was so much closer than the race right now between me and Senator Sanders … We got to the end in June, and I did not put down conditions. I didn’t say, ‘You know what, if Senator Obama does X, Y and Z, maybe I’ll support him. I said, ‘I am supporting Senator Obama because no matter what our differences might be, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and the Republicans.’ That’s what I did.”Not according to a great many reports. Here's one from Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post, in a piece he calls "5 Pieces of Advice For Bernie Sanders From Hillary Clinton Circa 2008." The fifth piece of advice goes like this (again my emphasis):
5. Allow your name to be put into nomination for the roll-call vote at the Democratic National Convention, thereby allowing more than 1,000 delegates to cast their votes for you until — almost comically belatedly — you sweep in to remove your name from consideration. Which you easily could have done weeks before the Convention.From that 2008 Washington Post report (my emphasis):
Yes, this happened.
In fact, it was much worse than this. Clinton did nothing to stop her super-delegates and supporters from threatening to “stage a walkout or leave Denver altogether after she speaks [to the Convention], to protest what they view as a flawed and sexist party nominating process.”
Instead, per The Washington Post, Clinton “suggested a roll-call vote.”
President Obama, reluctantly responding to these threats from the Clintonites, agreed.
Said Clinton in closed-door meetings at the time, “My supporters have incredible pent-up feelings....[t]he best way I think to [release them] is to have a strategy so that my delegates feel like they’ve had a role and that their legitimacy has been validated. It’s as old as Greek drama. There’s a catharsis. Everybody comes, and they want to yell and scream and have their opportunity, and I think that’s all to the good.”
After weeks of maneuvering aimed at producing a display of unity when Democrats gather in Denver later this month, Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign announced yesterday that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be formally nominated and her name included in a roll-call vote at the Democratic National Convention."Encouraged" the roll-call vote doesn't say whose idea it was (or even that the statement is true). There's no question whose agenda it advanced. There's also no report from their closed-door meetings of other rewards (beyond the roll-call vote and a prominent speaking time) which may also have been negotiated, though negotiating a prime appointment for the loser, such as Secretary of State, is not uncommon.
The move represented the latest, and potentially most important, symbolic gesture by Obama to Clinton supporters, and could blunt the threat of an upheaval on the convention floor. Some Clinton backers have threatened to stage a walkout or leave Denver altogether after she speaks on Aug. 26 to protest what they view as a flawed and sexist party nominating process.
In a joint statement, the two camps said the decision to enter Clinton's name into nomination was mutual, and they countered the idea that she had forced her way back into the spotlight.
"I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton's historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong united fashion," Obama said in the statement. It went on to say he "encouraged" the roll-call vote as a way to recognize "the historic race she ran and the fact that she was the first woman to compete in all of our nation's primary contests."
Note the timing. The Post story ran Friday, August 15. The deal, in other words, was concluded just 10 days before the start of the 2008 convention, not at "the end of June" as claimed by Clinton in her statement to Rachel Maddow.
2008-Clinton Advises 2016-Sanders
So Abramson, channeling Clinton in 2008, offers this piece of advice for Sanders in 2016:
So Bernie — says Hillary (2008 edition) — make sure you insist that the 46 percent (or more) of Convention delegates who supported you over Secretary Clinton get their opportunity to publicly show the country just how close the race was, and how weak a candidate Clinton was, thereby maximizing your capital at the Convention.And how should he use that capital, according to Abramson? Here's a good start:
- Abolition of super-delegates.
- Abolition of closed primaries.
- Abolition of super-PACs.
- Abolition of regulations prohibiting same-day party registration.
- Abolition of inconveniently timed primary debates.
- Abolition of artificially limited debate schedules.
- Abolition of shady “joint fundraising” efforts like those of the DNC and HVF.
- Abolition of caucuses (assuming no more closed primaries, either).
- Abolition of a set (rather than rotating) state primary schedule.
Sanders outlines his list of Democratic Party reformsThus the "come to me, bend to me" asking continues...
Bernie Sanders shared the specific list of changes he'd like the Democratic Party to make during a speech on Thursday.
In an otherwise carbon copy of his stump speech in Springfield, Oregon, Sanders declared that he wants to see the Democratic Party pursue a 50-state strategy, open primaries in every state, and automatic voter registration for everyone starting at age 18. ...
The Vermont senator went on to also call for the Democratic Party to push for same-day registration and open primaries....
In recent weeks, he has focused on reshaping the Democratic Party's nominating process, and moving the party platform to the left at the Democratic National Convention.
... though perhaps with a little less sweetness on the power-politics stage. (There's a nice baritone version here.)
You Can Still Help
Bernie Sanders still needs every delegate he can get going into the convention. If you'd like to help out, go here. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!