Florida and Michigan are both must-win states for the Democrats. Bill Clinton cracked the Florida code and brought us Democratic government in the 1990s. The Democrats lost the election of 2004 when they lost the upper midwest. The Party must seat delegations from those states at the convention. The underlying problems with the primary process that led to this fiasco must be addressed in time for 2012, but the fiasco itself has to be dealt with right now, or we are in serious electoral trouble.
We cannot, however, simply seat the delegations as they were determined by the earlier votes. Those primaries occurred well after the DNC announced that the delegations would not be seated. The campaigns would have conducted themselves differently and the outcomes would have been different. So the Michigan and Florida primaries have to be done over. There needs to be some time for the campaigns to go back into those states with a reasonable expectation of making some difference, which suggests sometime in April. it occurs to me that Pennsylvania would have a reasonable complaint if those big primaries were scheduled shortly before April 22. The end of April might be best.
It's not legitimate for Obama supporters to say that seating delegations from Florida and Michigan would be some sort of betrayal. The only reason for someone to resist fair representation for the millions of voters in those two states is that they're already in the tank for Obama. I appreciate the power of rising expectations in the black community because of the Obama phenomenon (I find it intensely inspiring as well). But none of us can insist on the disenfranchisement of others in order to further our own political interests. In fact Obama has a large cash advantage and it's not clear that he couldn't do well in both states. (Here's a suggestion: what about Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm for VP?)
I've been arguing in this blog that the Democrats need to work out some agreement to stop the fighting (Howard Dean's line), but this morning I'm not so sure. The struggle between Clinton and Obama is riveting news; it's what will dominate the political news over the next couple of months. McCain will appear by contrast to be the Bush-in-waiting, while the Democrats continue to work out who will be the next president.
One more comment this morning: a pundit on TV last night characterized Clinton as emotional and angry during crises. I defy anyone to document excessively emotional and angry behavior over policy matters from Hillary Clinton. When it suits them, her detractors say she's calculating and cold. I've never said it on this blog before, but this week I'm really getting the feeling that maybe America isn't ready to elect a woman president. Very disappointing.