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Why the Michigan Primary Won’t Go Forward: All Your Base Are Belong To Us

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Chris Beam explained the stalemate yesterday:

Clinton has long insisted that failing to seat Michigan’s delegates would be equal to disenfranchising voters. (That is, after initially agreeing that Michigan wouldn’t count.) Today, she even lumped Michigan’s revote in with the “long struggle” of “women, African-Americans, Latinos and others” to “get to the point where barriers have been knocked down and doors opened.” What would you call that, disenfranchisploitation?

But now Obama’s camp is using the same terminology. Clinton supporters Jon Corzine and Ed Rendell, governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively, wrote a letter today to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm reiterating their willingness to pay for a revote. Obama spokesman Bill Burton fired back, denouncing their willingness “to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.”

The Obama campaign’s rationale, in case you missed it: Voters who participated in the Republican primary wouldn’t be included in the Democratic revote. They also argue that young absentee voters—think college students—wouldn’t be included, since there’s a rule saying you must show up in person the first time you vote.

So, to recap: According to Obama, Clinton’s plan would disenfranchise Republicans, independents, and young first-timers—his base. According to Clinton, Obama’s nonplan would disenfranchise traditional Democrats—her base. When it comes to appropriating voting-rights rhetoric to serve their own needs, both campaigns are doing a smashing job.

Now that the vote is apparently dead (though there is still the occasional ghost sighting), look for this to shift to blaming of each campaign.

Ultimately, though, Ambinder is right that the Obama camp more than anyone prevented the recent agreement from going forward. The operative question regarding that is whether you think that their arguments that Beam listed are justified. They probably think they could reasonably compete in an open primary, but that only letting people who voted in the primary the last time (who overwhelmingly went for Clinton) or did not vote at all is too restrictive. Both sides have a point here, and it’s something you would hope that people could sit down and work out instead of not let anything happen, but these are the consequences of a draconian DNC ruling that for some reason makes the candidates the important figures in making decisions. That said, Clinton probably has more of a point.

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