Sunday, April 13, 2008

Conventional Wisdom

Ashwin Madia flanked by siblings Virat and Surbhi,
just after leaving yesterday's CD3 DFL Convention

The CD3 DFL Convention was the big event this weekend. During much of the convention there was disconcertingly minimal movement, from ballot to ballot, so the ending came with unanticipated speed after the eighth ballot indicated some softening in Terri Bonoff's support.

We knew going into yesterday's convention that the superdelegates were blissfully out-of-touch with the democratic process, that they're happy to make highly consequential candidate-selection decisions in the absence of any due diligence and that they view their prerogatives as sacrosanct. They simply don't care what senate district convention delegates think; superdelegates are smarter than you, so much so that it would be a waste of time for them to have to explain themselves.

To solve the superdelegate problem, in the future I think that superdelegates ought to be addressed--without eye contact of course--as Lord or Lady, and they should be issued special convention dress uniforms complete with epaulettes, spats and shiny helmets with ermine tassels. At future CD3 DFL conventions, non-superdelegates could adopt a special nose-touching-floor bow with which to greet superdelegates. This formal increase in superdelegate status ought to be accompanied by the removal of superdelegate voting rights, as we gradually beef up the D component in DFL.

After the eighth ballot yesterday, message reversal time arrived quite suddenly. When Terri Bonoff took the stage to announce her withdrawal, we knew what was afoot. People who'd been fighting Team Bonoff all day were suddenly chanting Terri, Terri in the standard face-saving, party-unifying gesture. After the Bonoff concession, Ashwin Madia then spoke and praised the 'classy,' wonderful campaign Terri Bonoff ran. These are just the standard polite lies one tells to lubricate political interaction, and I entirely accept Ashwin's reasons for doing so.

But many people who followed the two campaigns closely know that to say Terri Bonoff ran an uplifting, classy wonderful campaign is simply untrue. During the campaign, Terri Bonoff made a number of statements revealing a woeful lack of knowledge concerning key current issues and she employed a number of sleazy tactics which quite justly earned her widespread condemnation from well-informed observers. This blog does not owe America an apology for Bonoff's tawdry campaign, nor should bloggers behave as quasi-campaign workers, implementing the polite-BS face-saving rhetoric which is so understandable when coming from Madia himself.

Again, bloggers ought not engage in the polite-BS face-saving rhetoric--that's Team Madia's job, not ours. We do not owe the world an apology for Terri Bonoff's various ethical and informational lapses during this campaign, nor for the embarrassing conduct of our district's superdelegates, with two notable exceptions in Bill Davis and Dan Weinand.

Here's what I'm talking about:

MNPublius wrote:

Update by Zack at 4:41: St. Sen. Terri Bonoff is a great public servant. Minnesotans are truly lucky to have her. She ran a great race right up until the end and should be commended for never giving up. I think many in the chattering class expected today to be a blowout win for Madia, but Terri never quit fighting. I think she has a lot to be proud of today. Matt adds: Seconded, 100%.

And Two Putt* wrote:

Throughout this campaign, I've been impressed with the determination of Team Bonoff. Special mention goes to Kay Lewis of Team Bonoff; she worked the floor with skill and helped keep delegates solid. But since turning delegates - for both sides - was not going to happen, it was up to the supers to make an endorsement happen.

I'd like to make clear that Terri Bonoff and her campaign did a great job - unfortunately, they ran into an exceptional campaign. And when push came to shove, party leadership did their job.

I mean, with all due respect, that's bullshit. The party leadership did not behave ethically--they chose their candidate without even considering Ashwin Madia, who they viewed as an unclubbable upstart. Terri Bonoff and her campaign did not lose due to happenstance; she lost the old-fashioned way: She earned it. Team Bonoff had an inarticulate candidate with a poor grasp on the issues who proved willing to engage in gasp-inducing campaign sleaze in order to subvert the will of senate district convention delegates. Perhaps it's Ashwin Madia's job to paper over this well-documented history; fine. But that's not my bailiwick, nor ought it be Zack's, Matt's or Two Putt's.

*In my original posting, I mistakenly attributed this statement to Grace Kelly. I was corrected by an esteemed commenter, so I fixed the error, above.


TwoPutt said...

Gavin, Grace didn't write that; I wrote that.

And I meant it.

Unfortunatley, I was mistaken on part of it; most of the supers were impediments at best. After further reflection, my impression is it's Brian Melendez that got a few supers to move. And it's a good thing he did. There were supers that flat out were more than willing to deny endorsement and take this to a primary.

And that is why the SD system needs to be changed; they were willing to subvert the good of the party for the good of an individual candidate.

And that is wrong.

But I'll stand by my assessment Bonoff ran a determined campaign; they did - right up to the end. In most years, in most cases, Bonoff would have won - but not this year and not against this candidate.

Captain Madia and the team he put together was extraordinary.

Thanks for your criticism, Gavin - you're one of the best and I appreciate being challenged - it keeps me on my toes!

West Metro Dem said...

Good job, Gavin. I can't wait until my rep calls asking for money, phonebank help, lit drop help, etc and I can explain exactly what I think of their staunch support of Bonoff in the face of districts that voted 2x1 and 3x2 for Madia. I think the reality check will be a little shocking.

The elected SuperD's have to face reality. I'm not stupid. No matter what you think. You are elected by me to represent me. If you don't listen to me and not tell me you know better than me, then maybe it's time to find someone else to elect to do your job.

munchkinmom said...

Joe Bodell is going to do a research study of super-delegates. I look forward to it.

Having been at the convention and spending the day watching, listening and talking to supers, I now believe it is time to eliminate them from our party system.

What those supers better realize is that Ashwin Madia got to where he is today WITHOUT THEIR HELP. He will have no problem getting elected to Congress WITHOUT THEM.

He doesn't need them, the party doesn't need them and neither do I.

I too think it is going to be very hard for all of those supers to go back to the very constituents that they supposedly represent and ask for time, talent and treasure. They shouldn't be surprised to be turned down.

senort01 said...

Although I generally agree that the supers did not do their job, which is to ensure the endorsing convention endorsed, there were at least three bright spots:

1) The extending of the contract for the school very well could have not happened if the party leadership didn't want it to happen. We may have had no endorsement, I believe, if they had not extended the time because Bonoff supporters had the holding momentum and may have felt they could hold out for another hour or so. Once it became clear the DFL wasn't going to allow an artificial time limit to determine whether the convention endorsed (or whether the central committee would get to pick the nominee), the dominoes started to fall.

2) John Benson. I don't know if he ever casted a vote for Madia, but, as a constituent of his I took the time to talk to him. He gave every indication that the convention would endorse. This coming from a superdelegate that really had no real obligation to move since Bonoff actually won SD43. I still have SOME faith SOME of the superdelegates either moved on eight, or would have certainly moved after eight. Was that incredibly too long to hold out? Yes.

3) Terri conceded gracefully. She certainly didn't have to. She could have held out to the bitter end hoping the eighth ballot would wake up her supporters or simply eventually lose to the ballots. Instead, she called for a unanimous endorsement. Her "early" withdrawal at least signaled to some of her supporters that the DFL winning is more important than her campaign. I feel the number of red t-shirt wearing Bonoff supporters walking out with Madia signs/shirts, etc. was higher because of her actions. Say what you will about her previous campaign tactics or why she found herself in that position, but, she made the right call at the end and that's important.

TwoPutt said...

Seniort01, I'll second your kudos for John Benson.

When I talked to John after round 4, he pointed at 43 results and said at that point, he couldn't switch because his constitutents didn't want him to - but he told me that this was an endorsing convention, and it would endorse.

John Benson was a bright spot on Saturday.

munchkinmom said...

I agree with senort01. I think the supers should have followed the votes of their individual sds. John Benson did follow the wish of his district, and I have no problem with that.

The supers in my district did not.

They should have. In fact, had the supers followed the wish of their districts, an endorsement would have been certain on the second ballot.

Remember, Madia did enter the convention with 59% when the supers are subtracted out. Bonoff never made it to 50% all day, much less the 60% required for endorsement.

She was classy in her withdrawal, and I am thankful for that. It will go a long way towards unity.

Grace Kelly said...

I think what I say is provocative enough to be quoted on my own!

Watch out complain enough, and we will make part of the leadership.