Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Pudd'nhead Party

From the desk drawer of Mark Twain, director of the Office of Persona Management for Roxie’s World:
"I wish I owned half of that dog."

"Why?" somebody asked.

"Because I would kill my half."

The group searched his face with curiosity, with anxiety even, but found no light there, no expression that they could read. They fell away from him as from something uncanny, and went into privacy to discuss him. One said:

"'Pears to be a fool."

"'Pears?" said another. "Is, I reckon you better say."

"Said he wished he owned half of the dog, the idiot," said a third. "What did he reckon would become of the other half if he killed his half? Do you reckon he thought it would live?"

"Why, he must have thought it, unless he IS the downrightest fool in the world; because if he hadn't thought it, he would have wanted to own the whole dog, knowing that if he killed his half and the other half died, he would be responsible for that half just the same as if he had killed that half instead of his own. Don't it look that way to you, gents?"

"Yes, it does. If he owned one half of the general dog, it would be so; if he owned one end of the dog and another person owned the other end, it would be so, just the same; particularly in the first case, because if you kill one half of a general dog, there ain't any man that can tell whose half it was; but if he owned one end of the dog, maybe he could kill his end of it and -- "

"No, he couldn't either; he couldn't and not be responsible if the other end died, which it would. In my opinion that man ain't in his right mind."

"In my opinion he hain't got any mind."

No. 3 said: "Well, he's a lummox, anyway."

“That's what he is;" said No. 4. "He's a labrick -- just a Simon-pure labrick, if there was one."

"Yes, sir, he's a dam fool. That's the way I put him up," said No. 5. "Anybody can think different that wants to, but those are my sentiments."

"I'm with you, gentlemen," said No. 6. "Perfect jackass -- yes, and it ain't going too far to say he is a pudd'nhead. If he ain't a pudd'nhead, I ain't no judge, that's all."

Mr. Wilson stood elected. The incident was told all over the town, and gravely discussed by everybody. Within a week he had lost his first name; Pudd'nhead took its place. In time he came to be liked, and well liked too; but by that time the nickname had got well stuck on, and it stayed. That first day's verdict made him a fool, and he was not able to get it set aside, or even modified. The nickname soon ceased to carry any harsh or unfriendly feeling with it, but it held its place, and was to continue to hold its place for twenty long years.
Under normal circumstances, Roxie’s World would not look kindly on a joke that imagines the death of even half a dog, but we know Mark means no harm, and, besides, our irony meters are working well enough to realize that the joke is funny. It is also pertinent to the current situation facing the Democratic party, which we do hereby officially declare the Pudd’nhead Party because:
Democrats seem determined to kill the half a dog of primary participants who have voted for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, as if doing so will have no effect on the health and electoral prospects of the other half of the dog that might be said to belong to Senator Barack Obama.
How do you kill half a dog? Oh, let us count the ways.
  • By trying to drive one candidate from the race on the grounds that her continuing to beat her opponent by sizable majorities in swing states (OH, PA, WV) is somehow unseemly, disloyal, destructive, or irrelevant;
  • by arguing that one candidate’s small but mathematically insurmountable lead among pledged delegates means that he is entitled to the support of the superdelegates, which he will need to secure the nomination, while claiming that the other candidate, who will likely end up with a lead in the popular vote, would be “stealing” the nomination if she were to secure it through the support of superdelegates;
  • by disenfranchising voters in two populous swing states whose support for the Democratic ticket will be essential to victory in November or coming up with a cosmetic solution to the FL/MI problem that will not fully count those votes and will disadvantage the candidate who won those primaries;
  • by trashing some of the supporters of one candidate as racist, working-class trash whose votes are unnecessary because Democrats are now the party of the creative class and the cool kids rather than the bitter, gun-toting working class;
  • by trashing other supporters of that same candidate as dowdy but docile women whose support is rooted only in identity politics and assuming that their loyalties will automatically shift to the handsome boy (prom king) as soon as the dorky girl (valedictorian) is out of the race;
  • by actively pushing wildly exaggerated stories aimed at demonizing one candidate as a racist who dreams of the death of her opponent – while remaining silent when one’s own supporters publicly and without ambiguity fantasize the murder of the other candidate.
A party that does all of these things – and others, so many others that we’ve grown tired of counting – and still expects to cruise happily to victory in November is a party in the grips of the delusion that half a dog is better than none. And that, my beloved, non-Pudd’nheaded friends, is why Roxie’s World has made a decision and why we call upon our DC-area fans to join us in northwest Washington on Saturday morning to stand up for the principle that it will take a whole, un-dead dog to win back the White House.

That’s right. The moms will get up bright and early on Saturday and join with a righteous band of mad-as-hell Dems who will gather at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to let the Rules Committee of the Democratic National Committee know that they are closely watching and care passionately about how the party plans to address the FL/MI debacles. The demo is not affiliated with the Clinton campaign, and if you come you should show your support not for a candidate but for the principle of fairness to the voters of Florida and Michigan, who broke no rules when they cast their votes back in January. Moose will carry a sign calling on the party to count the vote of her sister in Michigan, who pulled the lever for “uncommitted” because she was an Edwardian back then. (She’s a Clintonista now, like all the other female Moosians as well as the vast majority of Goosians.) Goose will probably carry a sign that re-purposes one of the slogans the moms used during the original Florida election debacle of 2000: “No Fuzzy Math” was one favorite; “Democracy Counts” is another that still seems apt.

Details on the demo are here. Plans call for gathering at 7 a.m., but we’re guessing you could show up later and still have an impact. The meetings go until 4, so media will probably be around all day. The Hill reported yesterday that the Obama campaign was encouraging supporters not to attend, which might help to keep the event from turning into an ugly confrontation between warring camps of Obamaniacs and Clintonistas. We hope the Obamaniacs will listen to His Hopeness and stay away, if only to reduce the chance that the media will find some opportunity to broadcast sensationalized images of Democratic in-fighting.

To those who say we could further reduce those chances by staying home ourselves, we respectfully say, thanks, but some risks are worth taking. We are among the more than 17 million citizens who have cast votes for Senator Clinton during this long, hard campaign, and we want to let the Democratic party know that we and our concerns cannot be taken for granted. Our support for the eventual nominee cannot be assumed; it must be earned – by treating voters fairly and extending to Senator Clinton the respect she deserves for having waged an honorable and history-making campaign. So far, a sizable number of us do not feel that either of these conditions has been met. Others of us have grave reservations about Senator Obama’s candidacy and urge the party to realize that the primary campaign is ending in a functional tie and that its job is to select the nominee who stands the best chance of defeating John McCain in the fall. We are not Pudd’nheads, and we will not stand idly by while the party we have supported for our entire political lives abandons key constituencies, core principles, and values we hold dear.

We are not Pudd’nheads, and we won’t support a Pudd’nhead party or a Pudd’nhead nominee who thinks he can kill half a dog and snuggle up in an Oval Office chair with the other half. In Roxie’s World, we like our dogs whole and alive. See you Saturday morning in northwest DC. Look for the ornery bitches in the sensible shoes. Holding neatly painted, clever signs.


  1. The question remains: If disenfranchising voters is wrong now, and has always been wrong, why did Senator Clinton send her folks to vote for the original FL/MI referendum? Why did she have -- until just a few days ago, actually -- the official Clinton 2008 campaign press release stating their support of stripping FL/MI of their delegates posted on

    I think Senator Clinton would be doing herself and her supporters a HUGE favor if she just fessed up and made her intentions clear, instead of standing behind the civil rights nonsense she's pulling right now:

    "Listen, I know that last fall, I fully supported stripping two states of their delegates. In fact, the only committee member in opposition was an Obama supporter! It was extremely politically expedient back then because I was basically bulldozing my way to the presidency. Now, my campaign blew it, and I need to scrap for those extra votes. So I'm going to pretend like I never supported the disenfranchisement in the first place, compare my plight to the plight of Zimbabweans who have been murdered on their way to the polls, and force a rules committee to change the rules RETROACTIVELY because it just so happens to benefit me. Not like the one-candidate Michigan primary, where only 24% of the number of '04 voters showed up, was anything short of a Soviet election... Not like changing election rules ex post facto isn't as big a threat to the tenets of democracy than not seating delegates at a convention... Just bear with me while I take my pro-disenfranchisement press release off my website so you can't find it anymore, send Harold Ickes out to completely humiliate himself and me by reversing our prior position, and raise unnecessary questions about the legitimacy of the candidate who will be the presumptive nominee this time next week."

    Where were you, Roxie, when the DNC decided to strip FL and MI of their delegates? December 1, 2007 -- the date that will live in infamy... all that's featured is a post about Oprah vs. Elton John. For such an ugly, horrible day for the state of American democracy, there was very little hullabaloo over at this blog. There wasn't even a peep at Taylor Marsh's Obama bashfest!

    Any mention of this massive civil rights disaster later that week? That month? By the end of the year? Nope, nope, nope. What about in January, when primaries were kicking into high gear? Not a single word about FL and MI. I guess it didn't matter back then, right?

    So when was your first mention of Florida and Michigan? February 19, 2008. During the big Obama Sweeps Month, when he cleaned Clinton's clock and ran up the delegate lead he still holds. I guess once the writing was on the wall, civil rights and essentially illegitimate elections became a REALLY HUGE DEAL.

    "Situational ethics" doesn't even begin to capture the intellectual dishonesty of the current "Clintonista" FL/MI argument. It boggles the mind.

  2. Thanks for the careful reading of the archives, Eitan. We recommend that you go read Senator Obama's web site as closely as you read ours. According to Jake Tapper, you'll find evidence of the Precious's latest reliance on situational ethics. Tapper reports the Obama site has been scrubbed of all references to Father Michael Pfleger, with whom Obama has had a close relationship for decades, after the good father gave a sermon at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ this past Sunday in which he viciously mocked Senator Clinton as a white person who felt entitled to the presidency. YouTube of the disgusting sermon is here.

    I have two points to offer in response to your high dudgeon over Clinton's (and, by implication, our) situational ethics. One is that if it weren't for situational ethics the vast majority of politicians, including the Precious, would have no ethics whatsoever. The second is that the closeness of this race makes the problems of FL and MI (and all the other problems in the ways Dems run their nominating race: caucuses, proportional allocation of delegates, etc.) stand out in ways that they wouldn't if one of the candidates had a decisive lead. It's a close race, every single vote matters, and it doesn't seem right to penalize voters for actions taken by parties or legislatures. I am also reasonably certain no one would ever have heard of hanging chad and butterfly ballots if those FL election snafus hadn't decided the presidency in 2000. Aren't we all guilty of situational ethics (or, as you charitably put it) intellectual dishonesty for not demanding serious federal reforms aimed at assuring the integrity and uniformity of voting in this country? The bottom line, as I have said before, is that if FL & MI aren't addressed in a manner that is fair to the voters and both candidates, the Democratic nominee will have a major perception problem that will seriously undermine his/her electoral chances. The nomination will look tainted, and many voters will stay home or vote for the other guy to register their outrage.

    Friendly word of advice, Eitan: Calling Clintonistas -- or any opponent whom you will ultimately need on your side in order to prevail -- "intellectually dishonest" is a major Pudd'nheaded move. That's a great way to kill half a dog. Good luck winning in November with your half of the dog.

  3. My typist is having difficulty embedding links this morning. (More. Coffee. NOW.) We'll just cut and paste in the links to Tapper on Pfleger and the YouTube of Pfleger.

    Here's Tapper:

    And Pfleger:

  4. Hey Rox,

    Thank you for your characteristic wit, generosity, and accuracy. We appreciate it very much.

    I'm checking in because I'm thinking about what my sign should say. I'd like to get something pithy about the Pudd'nhead Party (what a fitting name!), something about hanging in until the last dog dies and half a dog, something that the dimwitted journalists will be able to understand. Any ideas, Rox?

    And hey, did you notice that in his apology for his dear friend (as he called him last week) Rev. Pfleger, Obama did not apologize directly to Senator Clinton, who was the brunt of Pfleger's hateful, lying, venomous verbal assault? Took me back to Wednesday evening and talking with those African American women who are working their hearts out for Clinton. One of them said that Obama could have stopped the hateful attacks long ago if he were truly a peacemaker, but he has stood by and silently encouraged them or done as he did this week and issued an apology, but not to the injured party. She said he is "a wolf in sheep's clothing" (her words) and that it has made her very sad to see him bully so many of her community. She also pointed out the fact that he has not added to his base since February, and has in fact been slipping among parts of that base (young voters and college-educated; see Kentucky results). That was interesting, but of course Anglachel has thoroughly covered the media lies about him bringing in new voters (uh, duh, new voters come in every 4 years and this year is almost identical to 2004). But mostly the young African American woman was focused on how much she admires Clinton and how much Clinton has done for her community. She and the others were very enthusiastic about a write-in vote in the fall, should that become necessary. Anyway, we'll see them tomorrow at the protest!

    So what do you think about my sign, Rox? I also thought about saying something about how laughable the Democrats' proportional representation is. Obama got 12 delegates for a 7,000 vote lead in Idaho while Clinton got 11 delegates for a 100,000+ lead in New Jersey. So Idaho Democrats are worth more than 10 times than NJ Democrats. Gee, that makes a lot of sense, doesn't it, Rox, esp. since Idaho will freeze over before it votes Dem in a general election while it's more than possible NJ could go Democratic. The Demoractic Party needs to clean up the way it represents votes and really represent them equally. Instead, the presumptuous (and yes, I mean that and not presumptive) nominee is reduced from high-flying rhetoric to bean-counting rules enforcement (just as he was when he first got elected to the Illinois Senate).

    Maybe we should register to vote in Idaho or some other state where our votes will be much more high octane than here in Maryland. Ah the Pudd'nheads. . .they don't realize how foolish they look. Selective enforcement of principles and rules is the refuge of scoundrels indeed.

    No wonder so many of our European friends are laughing at us and your Norwegian aunt got such fan mail for saying on t.v. that if the U.S. is stupid enough not to elect HRC, then Norway will take her. Hey, they could do that and we could move there--women actually have equality in Norway!

    So what will my sign say?

    In Peace & Possibility,

  5. Hey Rox,

    Did you see that the South Dakota Argus endorsed Senator Clinton this morning? It was from the interview with them that hate-mongering folks ripped Clinton's comment about RFK out of context. Their endorsement can be found here:
    May 30, 2008

    Note that it ends by saying, "Clinton might not win this race. In fact, it's a long shot. But whatever some might say, the race is not over, and her name is on the ballot. Win or lose, she's also the best Democratic candidate for South Dakota."

    Spread the word! Clinton wins when there are primaries and not caucuses and when there's a high voter turnout!!!

  6. I don't think that Clinton supporters or even the Senator herself are intellectually dishonest. I think that the argument is intellectually dishonest. The fact of the matter is, Michael Pfleger has absolutely nothing to do with the DNC's fall '07 decision. So that's a completely spurious claim in and of itself.

    And in regards to situational ethics, I don't understand why the closeness of the race makes the FL/MI problem any bigger. You say that in a close race, every vote counts. From my perspective, every vote should always count regardless of how big or small the election is. But this all has to be within the scope of the rules. That means that dead people can't vote (thank you JFK), you can't vote twice, you can't vote if you're not registered, your vote does not count if the election is not sanctioned by the party, etc. If this was such a huge civil rights issue, then it would have mattered a lot then, just as much as it matters now. Civil rights are civil rights, whether you're the winner or loser, or whether the vote gap is large or small. That women did not have the right to vote mattered just as much in 1870 when they fought for the 15th amendment as it did in 1920 when the 19th was finally ratified. So this FL/MI claim doesn't make a lick of sense. I wish someone had stood up for FL and MI when their delegates were stripped -- THAT was the time to speak up, that was the time to debate, to make demands, to protest. But Clinton, Obama, and the rest of the Democratic field said nothing. I call Clinton's FL/MI argument "intellectual dishonesty" because she's trying to convince everyone that it has always mattered to her, and that Floridians and Michiganders are the most precious people in the universe to her, when you can basically just look 7 months back on the record and see that when those two states were stripped of their delegates, she was on the sidelines, quietly cheering and playing along. If your bullshit meter is not ringing, I don't know what I'm seeing that you're not.

    So Hillary Clinton can backtrack all she want, and try to cleverly dance away from her previous statements ("It's clear... this election they're having is not going to count for anything.") but the fact is, she really, really, really did not give a crap about the voting rights of Michiganders before she was losing. They were just a bump in her otherwise smooth road to the presidency.

    I see the argument to count the votes of those who showed up. I understand that our country has 50, and not 48, states. But there are also rules, and these rules happened to be voted on by the Clinton people last fall. Hillary Clinton has still not provided a good enough reason for us to reverse the decision that SHE SUPPORTED. And no, "I suddenly care because I lost" is not a reason.

  7. Hey Rox,

    I'm still thinking about my sign and have put out some requests to various listservs, including one of Bruce's lists.

    There's something threatening about counting all the votes, so maybe there's a slogan for a sign in there. The Dems just look so damned ridiculous. They can't even run a primary that counts votes equitably or fairly!

    Back to musing. I'm still flying high from our Wed. evening calling for Senator Clinton -- the Superdelegates need to be made aware of how many people beyond the half of the Dems who've voted her are excited about her candidacy and about the prospect of her being POTUS. She's got a health care plan, a plan for getting us out of Iraq, an economic plan, an education plan, and she apologizes directly to injured parties. What a mensch!

    Don't punish voters for party leader boneheadedness!

  8. I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree, Eitan. You are obsessed with rules, and I am obsessed with perception, particularly as it relates to the legitimacy of the eventual nominee. We can't go back to that moment in time when everyone should have protested the stripping of the MI & FL delegates. We have to deal with where we are right now and figure out the best way to move forward to assure a Democratic victory in November. I don't think trashing Senator Clinton and her supporters is the way to do that. You seem to think otherwise. As I said, good luck.


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