by Alex Knepper
It’s the lie that won’t die: the Democratic National Committee ‘coronated’ Hillary Clinton, so that St. Bernie Sanders, the disruptive outsider with a heart of gold and a record of purity, couldn’t crash their insider party.
Damon Linker of The Week, who is obviously very pleased that his content-cow Clinton hasn’t yet retreated from the public spotlight, makes the latest case (emphasis mine):
Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who ran an atrocious campaign and should never have been anointed as the presumptive nominee by the Democratic National Committee in the first place. If Clinton wanted to run for president while under investigation by the FBI, that was her business. But why on Earth would the DNC and the party’s “superdelegates” decide so far in advance that a candidate running with that kind of baggage should be considered the inevitable victor? Aside from the obstacles it placed in the way of her one serious challenger (Bernie Sanders), it helped to discourage many others (including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren) from jumping into the race. Why bother when you know the party is standing against you?
That decision on the part of the DNC had fateful consequences…
This is an utterly bizarre rewrite of history — one which has gained currency because it is unfathomable to people like Linker that anyone could actually like the Worst Woman In the History of the Planet, or actually think she would have made a good president. In their minds, St. Bernie was so obviously a superior candidate — and superior person — that only manipulation from on-high could explain her nomination, and that her voters must have been brainwashed, or the victims of Donna Brazile-engineered propaganda — or maybe voting with their vaginas or something. It would be too much to suggest that any of this can be interpreted as white men and college kids lashing out at the fact that women and non-whites had the decisive role in determining the outcome of the primary. But it certainly is an astounding case of bad memory.
It is easy enough to forget now, after the more-competitive-than-expected primary season, but Hillary entered 2015 with a 30-50-point lead in the polls. The reason that every other Democrat with a marquee name declined to run against her is not because the Democratic National Committee was coronating her, but because she was crushing the competition democratically. The field wasn’t cleared for her. She cleared the field herself — because she came in a very close 2nd place in the 2008 contest against President Barack Obama and went on to serve under him for four years, during which time she routinely registered approval ratings in the 50s and 60s. It would not be too much to say that Hillary Clinton, detached as she was from the major political battles of the day, was the most popular politician in the country during most of Obama’s second term.
Of course, Clinton knew that when she became a political figure again, her numbers would fall back down to Earth. Everyone knew that. But nobody knew when they would fall, or how far they would fall. Traditional presidential campaigns require many long months of planning and organizing to get off of the ground — and by the time the likes of Warren and Biden realized there really was an opening to defeat Clinton, it was too late: on Warren’s part, because by summer 2015, Sanders had already captured the energy that was waiting for her — and by autumn 2015, there was simply not enough time for Biden to mount a viable run — to say nothing of the obstacle called grief.
It is — again, bizarre is the only word I can use — to see people like Linker, who have been involved in politics for a long time, pretend to believe that they think the Democratic National Committee is some kind of omnipotent central body that determines the presidential nominee. The anti-Clinton propagandists get away with this lie because, quite frankly, nobody is in much of a mood to defend Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Donna Brazile, or any of the other party hacks who, to be sure, personally favored Clinton over Sanders. The propagandists count on confused or half-informed readers to conflate the personal loathsomeness of these women with actual legal or ethical malfeasance — even though the only tangible example they can come up with is Brazile stupidly telling Clinton about a CNN debate question, which we are apparently supposed to believe transformed the state of the race.
The Democratic National Committee organizes the primary calendar and apportions delegates to each state (well in advance of the vote) based on its population and importance to the party. It also helps arrange the debate schedule, which in 2016 included as many debates as took place in every contest prior to 2008. The DNC is not responsible for any of the following: managing voter rolls, setting voter registration deadlines, determining whether independents can vote in a state’s primary, or overseeing precinct activity on Election Day. The ‘superdelegates’ exist — aside from their role as a vanity title for self-absorbed insiders — as a backstop against the nomination of an obvious loser like George McGovern. They are there ‘just in case’; never in the history of the party has the winner of the majority of pledged delegates not gone on to receive the support of superdelegates — in 2008, they flipped from Clinton to Obama, and, indeed, in 2016, many superdelegates indicated that they would switch to Bernie if he was truly the people’s choice.
But he was not the people’s choice. The Worst Woman In the History of the Planet was. St. Bernie was the choice of a loud and angry slice of Democratic primary voters — a group of people who felt totally entitled to win by virtue of the purity and holiness of their candidate and the horribleness of the opposing candidate. But it was the Worst Woman In the History of the Planet, not St. Bernie, who won the popular vote by double-digits nationwide. It was the Worst Woman In the History of the Planet, not St. Bernie, who won the pledged delegate count by about 350. It was the Worst Woman In the History of the Planet, not St. Bernie, who decisively won primaries in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona, and Georgia, and more closely in Nevada and Iowa. She won these primaries on the back of the support of registered Democrats, women, non-whites, and older voters. The only swing states Bernie Sanders won against Clinton that she failed to win in the general were Wisconsin and Michigan, both of which were won by Sanders only very narrowly. On top of this, Clinton also won every major Democratic stronghold, including California, New York, Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
But there’s more, still: it was actually Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, who benefited from the Democratic National Committee’s contest rules: it was Sanders’ heavily-young, heavily-white, heavily-male demographic that was peculiarly well-suited for winning caucuses. Witness the final set of contests, which happened to include both North Dakota and South Dakota. South Dakota held a primary and Hillary Clinton won by 2%. North Dakota held a caucus and Bernie Sanders won by 40%. Yet somehow we never hear about this insane disparity between primary and caucus results.
Linker and St. Bernie’s legions of fans are free to believe that the Worst Woman In the History of the Planet was a bad candidate — I’ve said it myself on many occasions. They are not free to lie about the way the contest unfolded, or about the role of the Democratic National Committee. Honest debate is necessary — but the staggering degree of dishonesty contained in this DNC-centric arguments must go.