DETROIT -- The question in Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary was not whether Hillary Clinton could beat anybody.It sure seems odd to be analyzing the results of this farce as a horse race, when the DNC's threat to not seat the delegates is such a perversion of the Democratic process. The race to schedule early primaries is a real problem, but you don't solve it by disenfranchising an entire state -- especially if you're the party that so often, with good reason, accuses the Republican Party of voter suppression. If this cynical intraparty gamesmanship costs the Democrats a key blue state this fall, they only have themselves to blame. At least Hillary stayed on the ballot. The cynicism of her opponents John Edwards and Barack Obama pulling their names, knowing she had a lock on more than half the vote, is also distressing.
The question was whether Clinton could beat nobody.
As the only leading Democratic contender to keep her name on the ballot after Michigan officials moved their primary ahead of the opening date scheduled by the Democratic National Committee, Clinton was perfectly positioned. She had no serious opposition. She also had the strong support of top Michigan Democrats such as Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.
The whole shabby episode is also a reminder of Democrats' tendency to shoot themselves in the foot by being too cute by half. Al Gore lost the election when he started out by calling for a selective recount. As we now know, he would have won if he had called for a recount of the entire state from the beginning.
I'm a huge John Nichols fan, but he blew this one. He should know better -- the DNC also messed with our open primary in Wisconsin a few years ago. Democrats should seat democratically elected delegates. They should be encouraging the electoral process, not discouraging it. Period. Don't like the primary schedule? Fine. Work it out. But not by disenfranchising an entire state.