Friday, February 29, 2008

Clinton Camp Threatening to Block Texas Caucuses? Or Just Bad Reporting?

Bear in mind: these two links are to essentially the same story, by the same writer, and the article is essentially based on a single anonymous source. This is at about the same level of credibility as a recent Daily Kos article that hinted that Clinton would drop out of the Presidential race today.

But, at the same time, it's the same level of credibility as the Woodward-Bernstein articles on Watergate began at.

Judge for yourself:

Houston Chronicle: State Democrats say Clinton camp may sue

McClatchy Newspaper Syndicate: Clinton aides threatened lawsuit over Texas caucuses, officials say

The money quotes from the McClatchy article, which is more complete:

The Texas Democratic Party warned Thursday that election night caucuses scheduled for next Tuesday could be delayed or disrupted after aides to Hillary Clinton threatened to sue over the party's complicated delegate selection process.

. . .

Democratic sources said both campaigns have made it clear that they might consider legal options over the complicated delegate selection process, which includes both a popular vote and evening caucuses. But the sources made it clear that the Clinton campaign in particular had warned of an impending lawsuit. {Emphasis mine. - Kris}

. . .

Another Democratic official who was privvy to the discussions confirmed that Clinton representatives made veiled threats in a telephone call this week.

"Officials from Sen. Clinton's campaign at several times throughout the call raised the specter of 'challenging the process,' the official said. "The call consisted of representatives from both campaigns and the Democratic Party.''

The source, who asked not to identified by name because he did not have authorization to speak about the matter, said Clinton 's political director, Guy Cecil, had forcefully raised the possibility of a courtroom battle.

Guy Cecil, when questioned about it by The Atlantic writer Marc Ambinder, denies it.

The official Clinton campaign response, however, is VERY curious indeed:

"The campaigns have been discussing primary night procedures and we asked for those procedures to be put in writing before we agree to them. It is standard operating procedure for our campaign - and we presume any campaign - to see what we are agreeing to in writing before we agree to it."

Of course, my question there is: since when do candidates get to "agree" to how an election is run? Election laws and party rules do not require a candidate's permission to operate.

So far, blog commentary on this news is pretty near unanimous: "Riiiiiiiight."

Clinton's slinging that sloppy stinky stuff that makes flowers smell so sweet (that stinky brown coming down from a moo-cow's seat), and she's slinging it with a mighty big pitchfork. Even if the threat of a lawsuit exists only in the imagination of an anonymous source, the response makes it damn clear that the basis for a lawsuit, or at the very least for challenging the right of a third of Texas' delegates to be seated at the Democratic convention, is being laid now.

And the fact that this action went down the same day as's average of polls shows Obama going above Clinton in Texas makes it look even more suspicious.

Ten years ago, President Clinton launched missile strikes at two supposed chemical weapon sites in Sudan and Afghanistan (one of which was an aspirin factory) on the same day that the House Judicial Committee passed articles of impeachment against him. I commented to friends that the true tragedy of the day was not that Clinton was using military force to distract Americans from his own crimes- the crimes were debatable, and the motivation unknowable- but that it had become believable, indeed plausible, that a President of the United States would do such a thing.

(This was before George W. Bush, who responded for years to any downturn in his fortunes by producing an unfounded terrorist threat to make it look like America would be doomed if we looked at the man behind the curtain.)

Ten years after the wag-the-dog missiles, the tragedy is not that two leaders of a major political party are willing to destroy their party and disenfranchise millions for personal gain. The tragedy is that it has become not only believable, but plausible- even probable.

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