Big Tent Democrat: Dumbass

They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question. They apparently have never come across Big Tent Democrat (aka Armando).

BTD asks, “When Did The Pledged Delegate Count Become The Holy Grail?” in the title of a particularly obtuse post. But instead of asking an actual question about the process through which we Democrats select a nominee (which he probably should have done and left it at that), he uses it as an attempt to suggest that this is all one big spin conspiracy perpetuated by Obama to win the nomination.

Because, as everyone knows, delegates have absolutely nothing to do with selecting the Democratic party’s nominee.

So a quick lesson for BTD on the Democratic nominee selection process. Note, this stuff has remained pretty solid throughout.

There are 4,047 delegates total for the Democratic party. These delegates vote to select the Democratic nominee; thus, in order to guarantee a win, a candidate must gain 2024 delegates to lock in a majority of the available delegates. Most of these delegates, over three thousand, are what are called pledged delegates, while there are over seven hundred Super Delegates.

Super Delegates are free to make up their own mind however they choose. The pledged delegates, on the other hand, are selected through individual state primaries and caucuses. Considering that there are not nearly enough Super Delegates to single-handedly push a candidate over the “finish line,” the primary delegates of concern are the pledged delegates.

See? They’ve always been the holy grail. Or, more accurately, they have always been the prime mechanism by which the Democratic nominee is supposed to be elected. Otherwise, why would we even bother having primaries and caucuses? Let’s just have Hillary and Barack play a friendly game of Monopoly to see who would be better suited to be president.

It’s a ridiculous question Armando brings up, and is essentially like asking, “When did going after electoral votes become the holy grail?” The answer for both is ridiculously simple; since they’re what is used to determine who is going to win the race.

Now, I know a lot of people don’t like the electoral college, and a lot of people have really gotten turned off by how our primary system works. But here’s the clincher, you don’t change the rules mid-game. If you don’t like the rules, you either say something before the game starts, or you wait until the game is over and then you try to change them for the next game.

“Well, what about Super Delegates?” you may ask, and both BTD and Jeralyn over at Talk Left have done every bit of goal post shifting as the Clinton campaign itself has done. If the Super Delegates get to use their own judgment, why is everyone up in arms over the idea of them using that judgment? The answer for that is really simple, too. SDs are fully within their rights to do whatever the hell they please. In fact, after Pennsylvania, both Democratic candidates should have won enough pledged delegates such that if they so chose, all of the Super Delegates could get behind one candidate or the other and put an end to the nomination selection process on April 23 (though my math could be off on that one by a little bit).

No one is saying that they can’t do that; what we’re saying is that it’s not wise to do that. Overturning the pledged delegate leader runs an incredibly high risk of turning off half of the Democratic party, especially in such an emotionally charged contest with such a high turnout. Thus, it is expected that the Super Delegates will line up generally by whomever has the most pledged delegates barring an unassailable excuse. Right now, the only excuse that may qualify is a lead in the popular vote, but this lead in the popular vote must exclude Florida and Michigan as they were previously voted given that the circumstances surrounding those contests are inherently flawed. Anyone, and I mean anyone, who says that seating those states is a matter of Democratic necessity is blowing smoke up your ass.

But I will grant BTD a slight moment’s pause for one thing. He does make the point that in the early states, the now so important pledged delegate lead was seemingly ignored for popular vote totals. It’s almost enough to make one think that Armando’s never been to the rodeo before.

Since he’s suffering from temporary amnesia, or chronic stupidity, I shall remind him. Back in Iowa and New Hampshire, et al., the focus was on the popular vote because we were still working in the old mold. We were all operating under the assumption that this race was going to go like they typically do where the front-runner builds MOMENTUM going into Super Tuesday, and utterly creams the competition on that day.

At the time of Iowa and New Hampshire, the focus wasn’t on delegates because back then no one was really ready for this to be a delegate hunt. Instead, we were looking at who was going to enter Super Tuesday with a huge wave of momentum that would have the race locked up on Wednesday.

Once it became apparent that overwhelming momentum was not going to win this race early, it became a matter of counting the currency that has always mattered: delegates.

So, in the first phase, prior to Super Tuesday, the focus was on whether either candidate could generate significant momentum. Depending on your point of view, that phase ended either on Super Tuesday, or slightly before, and ushered in a new era where momentum was still monitored, but the collection of pledged delegates became the prime focus.

We’re now in a third phase where pledged delegates are obviously not going to push either candidate over the finish line, and we must look at the Super Delegates now. Regardless, it is important to still focus on the pledged delegates because how they ultimately fall will greatly affect how the Super Delegates will make their decision as well.

This, by the way, is not a shifting of the goal posts in order to continue to search for a viable pathway to the nomination for one candidate or another. This is merely adjusting to the changing dynamics of the race as one motivating force becomes increasingly less likely to decide the final outcome over other motivating forces.

And here endeth the lesson.

Edited by Kathy

18 Responses to “Big Tent Democrat: Dumbass”

  1. Mark says:

    Also worth adding: in the early going, when popular vote mattered more than delegate counts, Hillary reaped the benefits. IIRC she lost or tied the delegate counts in NH and NV even though she won the popular vote total. The reporting of those contests as “wins” for Hillary, while absolutely justifiable and accurate at the time, certainly played a major role in keeping this race competitive. Had NH been reported as a loss for Hillary, she probably would have been forced to drop out by Super Tuesday.

    I’m not saying it should have been reported as a loss for Hillary – the media was correct to report it as a win for her under the circumstances at the time. My point is that this idea that the media has been schilling for Obama all along by manipulating the goal posts is absolutely silly.

    Reading BTD and Jeralyn, I often ask myself how they got to be “A-list” bloggers while people like you guys (and a variety of other sites in my regular reads) wind up hanging around in relative obscurity. Hell, BTD and Jeralyn sometimes even seem higher on the pecking order than Obsidian Wings, which is in my mind totally inexplicable.

  2. Dude… I have no clue. I try and limit the time I spend over there to keep the IQ points from getting sucked out of my head.

    I blame all grammatical errors in this post on those points that escaped during the reading of the source post.

  3. Pug says:

    This morning the most important factor in awarding the nomination is a new poll that shows Hillary leading McCain big in Ohio. That is now officially all that is important, not delegates, not popular vote, just the new poll from Ohio. On that basis alone Hillary should be given the nomination.

    Oh yeah…Reverend Wright!

  4. justsaynototaylormarsh says:

    I second Mark above and Kyle. What bothers me is how nasty BTD is to people who dare to suggest that his stated support for Obama, which is non-existent, is obviously untrue.

    BTD is also cranky, so I love this:

    “Since he’s suffering from temporary amnesia, or chronic stupidity” referring to him. My hunch is that Talk Left and Taylor Marsh will merge and become the site of Hillary-in-Exile.

    I expect Talk Left to start Hillary in 2012, if she doesn’t win and Make The Clinton’s Our Official Presidents for Life, if she does.

    Can’t wait to hear how much experience Chelsea has to be C-i-C. After all, she was a valuable Junior Officer during the Battle of Tuzla Tarmac.

  5. Kathy says:

    I didn’t know Big Tent Democrat’s real name before now. Is he the same Armando who has a diary at Daily Kos?

  6. Yes, Kathy.

    Partisanship tends to make us all idiots. BTD is actually a great blogger, and was one of my favorites before he dedicated all of his time to pro bono work for the Clinton campaign.

  7. justsaynototaylormarsh says:

    Kathy and Kevin

    It is impossible to believe that someone who won’t even admit he is for Hillary and against Obama, even though most first-time visitors praise him for his Hillary support, was ever worth reading. He is dishonest and, as I say, cranky. When called out, he says, “You have insulted this blog. You are banned for the day and your comment is deleted.”

    Jeralyn is so Hillary-stricken that she wrote that Hillary’s Bosnia lie was understandable but Obama lacks character. If Taylor Marsh did not exist, Talk Left would be the biggest joke of the internet and it is a shame to watch Jeralyn Merritt through away her integrity for The Clinton’s.

    BTD, Armando Llamens (sp?) is a joke. At least people like Carville admit they live and breathe to serve The Clinton’s.

    My guess is that BTD wants to destroy Obama so Edwards can make a comeback or is in fact a closetted Clinton-o-phile. But the more BTD gets called out elsewhere, the better.

    One of his friends posted an anti-Talk Left post when Jeralyn used ANN FREAKING ALTHOUSE to talk about Obama’s lack of character!!!!!!

    And BTD is so touchy on his slipping progressive credentials that he nitpicks fights with everyone.

  8. DrGail says:

    Suddenly I don’t feel so intimidated by all you bloggarific folk who have so much more blogging experience than I do. . .I gave up reading TalkLeft a long time ago as being just too arcane and into minutia for me. Now I look like a fricking genius!

  9. HAHA Gail.

    Wow… this thread just went off the chain in the space of the hour it took for me to get ready and head into the office.

    I think K. Sullivan comes pretty close though. You know, I think partisanship has its place sometimes, but this thing is encouraging rank and ugly partisanship that is going beyond the pale.

    Thing about the worst offenders, Taylor Marsh, No Quarter, and to a slightly lesser degree Talk Left is that these folks are really living it up right now because they’re among the few safe places on the left side of the blogosphere for Hillary supporters.

    I get there too, so I’m not going to complain that much. It’s like I was telling a Kevin from Rumproast.com the other day, I oscillate. I really don’t want to be so anti-Hillary, and I find myself in this cycle of backing off, trying to focus on McCain, and covering the horse race, and then some bit of ridiculousness will come along and set my fuse off again.

    But back to Sullivan’s comment, you know, the other thing is that these were all okay bloggers at some point in time, but I’ve said this before, even after this nomination I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to go back to reading them again.

    OT: Sullivan, what happened to the RCP’s blog coverage? It just one day up and quit with nary a whisper as to why.

  10. skippy says:

    talk left used to be one of the least partisan, more balanced and rational blogs on the left side of blogtopia and yes, i coined that phrase. of course jeralyn was unabashedly a democrat, but she, unlike most bloggers, used to insist on being nice to each other and staying civil in comments.

    i can hardly believe it’s the same woman these days. i first noticed her huge hillary-tilt when the supposed “plagiarism” of obama broke the news (“words mean something” taken (apparently w/permission) from his friend the mass. governor, who is on obama’s campaign.

    when this first broke, jeralyn was writing stuff like “this is it! obama is finished!” with such intensity that i couldn’t recognize her writing. it was like some ghost of vitriol past had inhabited her and taken over the blog.

    big tent armando, otoh, always had a hair trigger and would turn on you at the drop of a snark. he got into it with me at the great orange satan once when i was making a joke about what he had written. i forget what it was exactly, but it was simply a joke on how he wrote something, not his position. he really let me have it, as if i was his mortal enemy.

    i mourn for what was once talkleft.

  11. justsaynototaylormarsh says:

    I advise people to come here instead of Talk Left.

    Armando, aka Big Tent Democrat (and by “Big Tent” he means Hillary lovers and Obama Haters joined into a Grand Coalition of Obama-Haters like himself who pretend to be for Obama). just writes more and more anti-Obama stuff. If you do go there, please do NOT post a comment that you wonder why he always attacks Obama and praises Hillary. That set of facts is true, but I worry that Armando will die of apoplexy defending his right to say that the truth is what he says it is.

    I am not surprised by Skippy’s story. BTD is a Rush Limbaugh type bully who believes if he shouts the other person is proven wrong. I really wonder who would read BTD or Jeralyn and want them as their attorney.

    And, for the record, I think Hillary is a liar who has stayed too long in the worst thing that ever happened to Democrats, The Clinton’s, and that Obama is a bet more than a certainty. McCain is not just semi-senile, he is ignorant and mean semi-senile passing as a real person.

  12. Bostondreams says:

    But but but…BTD is ‘pro-obama.’ Really! ha.

  13. GRRRR!!!!

    Lost internet for hours and now I must work. What I wanted to do was put up a post about creating a pro-Obama home for Clinton supporters, but I guess I’ll scratch that until tomorrow.

  14. Kyle, there’s a long and short answer to your RCBlogs question. The short answer? The Powers That Be decided blog coverage was too niche for me to be putting the time into it that I was for them. So, we’ve stripped it down a little bit, and ironically, the new and simpler look should be up and running next week. I’ll post something about it at my blog when that happens. We have some interesting stuff in the works to incorporate blogs more often, but that stuff will take some more time.

    As for BTD, again, he wrote on stuff like party coalitions, realignment, sort of wonky “inside baseball” stuff that I enjoy (this was before his preoccupation with Hillary/Obama).

  15. Thanks Kevin. That was really one of my favorite features at RCP. And thanks Justsayno, I really appreciate the sentiment.

    I don’t know if I’ll be able to post again today, but I wanted to share this comment from BTD’s post that I linked to above. Permalink: http://www.talkleft.com/comments/2008/4/3/112022/0091/124#124

    “The pledged delegates are what counts.
    Frankly, I don’t care if the media didn’t get that story immediately. The media getting something wrong isn’t exactly newsworthy anymore, because it happens with such frequency.

    The DNC procedures allow for a minimum standard that has to be followed. State nominating contests must occur within a certain window of time and adhere to some basic rules, but beyond these basic rules, the states set up their own processes. Some states run primaries, some states run caucuses, and Texas runs a combination of these. Michigan set up internet voting for their caucuses in 2004. So long as your contest adheres to the bare minimum standards laid out by the DNC, the state level party has control over how they’d like to run their contest.

    Because of this freedom, there has to be an underlying mechanism to all this. How do you add up, OK, won a caucus in Iowa, 2nd in a primary in New Hampshire, lost in one part of Texas’ system and won in another? The answer is provided for us: pledged delegates. All contests assign pledged delegates. That’s the mechanism that determines who won an individual contest, and who’s winning the combination of those contests.

    If you dislike this system, the time to complain was when the rules were being devised. That’s when there was a period for debate and discussion of those topics. And if it doesn’t go your way, there’ll be another opportunity when the rules for 2012 are drawn up. But once the rules are set, those are the rules for the contest. They’ve been laid out for all to see, and all to study. that is how the contest will be run.

    The contest is about delegates. Not popular votes, or states won, or primaries won, or caucuses won, or money raised, or the number of blue shoes you can sneak into campaign ads, or the number of balloons you can drop on an audience, or any other criteria you can come up with.

    The Presidential contest is based on electoral votes. I don’t care that Al Gore won the popular vote, the popular vote doesn’t determine who wins and becomes President, the electoral college does, and Al Gore did not win there. I thought the argument over this was illogical then, and it remains so to this day. If you want electoral reform, I’m on board with that, and we can change the system going forward, but we’re not going to change the rules after the game has begun.

    And given that the contest is about delegates, and the real question coming out of any of these primary contests is “what was the people’s will, as expressed within the rules of the contest?”, the number that matters is the pledged delegates, disregarding the superdelegates, who are within their rights to hold a press conference with a monkey throwing darts to decide who they’ll vote for.

    Pledged delegates is the key. It’s always been the key. And if the media isn’t smart enough to have figured that out on the night of Iowa, it’s unfortunate, but it’s certainly not the work of some Vast Independent Conspiracy colluding with the news media.

    Obama won Texas. Obama won Nevada. New Hampshire and Missouri are ties. Obama took the lead in Iowa, and hasn’t relinquished it since. If you’re so obsessed with winning and losing that you need it to be one or the other, and the news media often is, then we’ll go to another criteria where we can compare these, and you get that Clinton won New Hampshire and Obama won Missouri using the popular vote as a tiebreaker.

    Just because you’re losing in the count that matters doesn’t mean you can redefine the rules, which is precisely which this is an attempt at.

    In the end, I don’t think it’ll matter. Obama will end the primary ahead in pledged delegates, and Hillary won’t be able to dig herself out of the 700,000+(really somewhere in the range of >800,000 but we’ll never know those caucus numbers for sure) vote deficit she’s got herself into now. That’ll leave Obama ahead in pledged delegates, total popular vote, states won, primaries won, primary popular vote, caucuses won, and basically any other major statistical category you can get into.

    I expect that when that occurs, I’ll be here writing a similar response, but this time the new claim of the underlying statistic that ties the whole race together is candidate performance in states which start with “New”, or states where Hillary Clinton lived, or states that regularly go Democratic in general elections by 10% or more. ”

    pwn’d

  16. *ahem* I meant three thousand pledged delegates, not “a” thousand pledged delegates… Very embarrassing, I fixed it.

  17. Fahrenheit451 says:

    My problem with BTD is that he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. He has a sense of honor, and if he sees you as challenging his integrity he gets very very mad. Problem is, he seems to have little respect for anyone elses integrity and often seems to assume the worst of others. It’s the double standard that he seems to have that bothers me.

    TL has a bit of a double standard, but it really is a place for real discussion and on balance is well moderated in my view. It’s one of the most civil of the Hillary blogs as far as I know. If I could only read one Hillary Blog that would be it.

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