Quote of the day
"There is no such thing as a pledged delegate." --Hillary Clinton.
This is fascinating -- truly fascinating. Hillary has painted herself as a champion of democracy, both by promoting the supremacy of primaries over caucuses, and by insisting that the illegitimate Florida and Michigan primaries should count, lest millions of voters be disenfranchised. But now, by arguing that the delegates elected in any and all primaries and caucuses shouldn't be considered "pledged," she is quite literally advocating the disenfranchisement of all voters in all states.
After all, what on earth can the purpose of those primaries and caucuses have been, if not to produce "pledged delegates"? What was the point of bothering to have elections at all, if their results can be so casually disregarded when it comes time to actually choose the nominee?
As a technical, procedural matter, of course, she's right: the delegates aren't "pledged" to follow their state's result. Just as there can be "faithless electors" in the Electoral College, there can be "faithless delegates" at the convention, and there's no legal mechanism to stop them from casting their votes however they please. But that's a legalistic, proceduralist argument, which isn't what Hillary is driving at here. She's making a legitimacy argument. She's contending that "there is no such thing as a pledged delegate" in an attempt to convince people that it's perfectly okay for her to try and "flip" Obama's delegates -- that there's nothing normatively wrong with doing that, and so she shouldn't be criticized for it.
Which is fine, if that's what she wants to argue, but then she ought to be called on the carpet for the inevitable logical extension of her argument, which is that Democratic voters have no binding role in the selection of their own nominee. All the primaries and caucuses were, according to Hillary's logic, strictly advisory in nature. Somehow, I don't think Democratic voters will go for this. (Nor is it remotely consistent with her own statements about Michigan and Florida, the popular vote, and many other things.)
This isn't the first time, of course, that Hillary has raised the possibility of "flipping" pledged delegates. But she's never put it in such stark terms until now. In my mind, it's one thing to suggest, as she has implicitly done before, that she might try to flip some pledged delegates if the overall delegate result appears unjust for some reason (e.g., not in line with the "popular vote"). But it's another thing entirely to dismiss the whole concept of pledged delegates as being altogether meaningless. Her underlying strategy may be the same in both cases, but the rhetoric in the latter case is vastly more inflammatory. "No such thing as a pledged delegate." Think about that. Really think about it. She might as well be saying to the 28+ million voters who've already cast ballots in Democratic primaries and caucuses: "Your votes didn't count. You elected nobody and nothing."
Obama needs to hit back on this, hard. It should be the easiest thing in the world to spin Hillary's comment as appallingly antidemocratic. It'll be easy because, unlike the vast majority of Hillary's spin, it's actually true.