There’s an amusing (though potentially serious) piece in this morning’s Wall Street Journal by Theodore Olson, the former U.S. solicitor general, who also represented George W. Bush before the Supreme Court in 2000 in Bush v. Gore:
What splendid theater the Democratic Party presidential nominating process is shaping up to be. And they are just getting started. The real fun would be a convention deadlock denouement a few months from now, the prospect of which is already quickening the pulses of scores of Democratic lawyers who have been waiting more than seven years for an encore of their 2000 presidential-election performances.
Press reports following super-duper Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses gave Sen. Clinton a narrow popular vote lead over Barack Obama. At the same time, Sen. Obama’s supporters were claiming a narrow lead among pledged delegates. The delegate count keeps changing, of course, and Sen. Clinton’s team is also claiming a delegate lead, based in part on a larger share so far of what are known in Democratic Party circles as superdelegates: 796 slots (20% of the total) set aside for members of Congress and a menagerie of assorted elected officials and party Pooh-Bahs.
These superdelegates, Byzantine hyper-egalitarian Democratic Party delegate selection formulas, and the fact that many delegates are selected at conventions or by caucuses rather than primaries, combine to offer the distinct possibility that by convention time the candidate leading in the popular vote in the primaries will be trailing in the delegate count.
How ironic. For over seven years the Democratic Party has fulminated against the Electoral College system that gave George W. Bush the presidency over popular-vote winner Al Gore in 2000. But they have designed a Rube Goldberg nominating process that could easily produce a result much like the Electoral College result in 2000: a winner of the delegate count, and thus the nominee, over the candidate favored by a majority of the party’s primary voters.
Imagine that as the convention approaches, Sen. Clinton is leading in the popular vote, but Sen. Obama has the delegate lead. Surely no one familiar with her history would doubt that her take-no-prisoners campaign team would do whatever it took to capture the nomination, including all manner of challenges to Obama delegates and tidal waves of litigation.
Indeed, it has already been reported that Sen. Clinton will demand that the convention seat delegates from Michigan and Florida, two states whose delegates have been disqualified by the party for holding January primaries in defiance of party rules…
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