Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee has proposed a fascinating exit strategy for the Democrats' nomination-race dilemma. He wants a special "primary" for the uncommitted "super-delegates" to settle the choice between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
I interviewed Bredesen this morning in Washington at the Mayflower Hotel (yes, the one that Eliot Spitzer and his Emperor's Club consort have made famous lately). Below is the video of that interview.
But before you watch it, here's a quick run-through of a few questions you might be asking yourself about the Democratic race.
Q. Some politicians (especially those partial to Obama) say "super-delegates" shouldn't overturn the expressed will of Democratic voters. Are they right?
A. No, they're wrong. Democrats included super-delegates as roughly one-fifth of all nominating delegating to benefit from their practical political experience; many are governors or members of Congress. Their sole reason for being is to exercise their judgment. And either Obama or Clinton will need some of them to attain the support they need for the nomination.
Q. Other politicians (especially those partial to Clinton) say we don't need new primaries in Michigan and Florida because those states have already voted, and delegates should be seated accordingly. Are they right?
A. No, they're flagrantly wrong. Obama and Clinton both pledged not to compete in either state after they violated DNC rules to try to snatch some of the influence Iowa and New Hampshire have exercised. The DNC announced in advance no delegates from those votes would be seated, and no real contest took place. That's why even the Clinton campaign has shifted to calling for new votes in both states, though that prospect appears to have vanished.
Q. Lots of theories are being advanced for why one candidate or the other should be the nominee--the number of states won, the size of states won, the form (caucus or primary) in which contests took place, the number of total votes candidates have received in all contests, national polls matching Obama and Clinton against John McCain. Are these legit?
A. All of those arguments are useful for influencing political activists, donors, the press and most importantly the super-delegates, since they can decide on the basis of any factor that moves them. But in the end the ONLY thing that counts in delegates at the convention -- the ones Clinton and Obama win from primaries and caucuses, and the ones they persuade on their own.