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Primary Circle-Jerk To Be Altered… Sort Of

PoliticsUnder new rules adopted by the Democrats, sniping at Republicans is apparently mandatory and some stylistic changes to the primary calendar may or may not have any impact at all on running for President. Rep. David Price, in an article for Roll Call, lays out the changes to their primary process. In case you don’t have a subscription, I’ll take you through enough of his mess to make sense of it.

Our recommendations will enable a larger and more diverse group of citizens to be involved in choosing our nominee. It also will pace the process more evenly and help us choose the strongest possible candidate.

Wow, that sounds like a big task…

[Iowa and New Hampshire] will continue to hold the first caucuses and primary in the nation, respectively, but the DNC will authorize one or two caucuses to be held between Iowa and New Hampshire, plus one or two primaries between New Hampshire and the opening of the regular season (or “window”) on Feb. 5, 2008.

So, we should continue to cling to an outmoded system of letting two bumpkin states pick our nominees, but we should add one or two new bumpkin states into that process. Gotcha.

The focus was on augmenting rather than eliminating the Iowa and New Hampshire contests, thereby expanding the early vetting of candidates to include states and constituencies representative of the broader Democratic and national electorates.

Ok, so we need to make Iowa and New Hampshire happy, but we need to have at least one or two states that actually have liberals and minorities in them. Understood.

[The frontloading] produced by the cumulative desires of states to find an early spot and thus heighten their influence, has increased markedly in recent cycles. The result: Almost everyone’s spot is devalued, and the party risks an early and precipitous rush to judgment.

Of course, having everyone vote on the same day and having to live with that candidate – good or bad – would be crazy. Come on. That would be like…. well…. like… how we elect the President. How f**king nuts would that be?

[R]ecognizing the party’s lack of effective sanctions over 50 state legislatures and more than 100 state parties, the commission proposes a stair-step scheme of bonus delegates that is considerably more robust than the one Republicans previously employed with little discernable effect.

So you don’t have power over the states? Even in states where you control the levers of power? Then what good are you and your recommendations? And did I read that right? Was that a dig at Republicans? What purpose can that serve in an explanation of internal policy?

States agreeing to wait until mid-March will receive a bonus of 15 percent, with the bonuses increasing to a maximum of 40 percent for those waiting until May. The goal: a better-paced process, with greater capacity for second thought and self-correction.

In other words, thank god we changed course and didn’t pick that Dean guy in 2004. He would have been a god damn disaster as a candidate. What if (and this is crazy talk) but what if we didn’t have the opportunity to pick a bigger loser like Kerry in the future?

If the [campaign financing] law’s parameters are not changed before 2008, all major candidates from both parties will likely opt out of the system, as President Bush, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) did in 2004, meaning that the gap between have and have-not candidates would widen to a chasm. Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled Congress is not disposed to take on this task.

Was that another dig at Republicans? Dear God, Price! Do you guys seethe with such anger that you have to take shots at GOPers in something that has nothing to do with them?

The commission’s recommendations strike a balance between mere tinkering and wholesale change. The results are not guaranteed; none of us has discovered how to repeal the “law of unintended consequences.”

In other words, in true Washington fashion, we’ve haven’t changed enough to make a difference, but we’ve changed enough that it will be a headache for anyone who learned the old rules. Also, we fully understand that what we do in Washington is based on parlor games, whiskey and cigars, so most of it will implode when it is actually implemented and we’ll have to come back in a couple of years and f**k with it again. Not solving problems is how we in Washington stay in power.

Written by Michael Turk