Monday, September 20, 2004

Hillary in <i>2004</i>?

Jim Gerghaty at KerrySpot proffers a fascinating and highly plausible scenario, suggested to him by a friend, which may well unfold should Kerry's poll numbers continue to tank and especially if some whiff of scandal attaches to the Kerry campaign as a result of the CBS memo debacle.

To be sure, Gerghaty doesn't think the scenario is as plausible as Viewpoint does, but in light of how the Democrats dumped incumbent Senator Robert Torreceli deep into the race for a Senate seat in New Jersey, it's not unthinkable that they might do likewise with Kerry, particularly if his feckless campaign threatens to take the whole party down with it.

Here's what Geraghaty, and his friend, say:

Saturday night I met Michael Graham at the NRO Party. Exceptionally smart guy. He's got a scarily plausible theory about what the Democrats could do if things look grim in October. So - presume, for the purposes of this theory, that some significant scandal comes out of Max Cleland's comments that he briefly spoke with alleged CBS memo source Bill Burkett.

Suppose that the Democratic National Committee's "Operation Fortunate Son" attack ads and press conferences were organized as a result of the CBS memos. Suppose the Kerry campaign sees these memos from Burkett, thinks they are fake, but decides to pass them along to CBS anyway and to launch a DNC ad campaign based on them (All of this, I remind you, is speculation).

Suppose Kerry is tainted by the memo, and the whole thing crushes his chances. His poll numbers plummet around the country. By October, he looks like he's on his way to a Dukakis-Mondale style blowout. Worse, he's dragging down Senate candidates in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Colorado, etc. The Democrats face an election day with even worse losses in the House.

Would the Democratic party dump Kerry, and bring in some other candidate at the last minute?

Michael decided to figure out just what it would take to do this.

Apparently, not much. A simple majority of the Democratic National Committee could vote to replace its nominee. According to Disinfopedia:

While anyone who is registered to vote as a Democrat is a member of the Party, there are 440 members of the Democratic National Committee. The National Committee has 9 elected officers: The Chair, five Vice Chairs, Treasurer, Secretary, and National Finance Chair. "Membership on the National Committee is composed of individuals selected by the Democratic Party organizations in each state (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), the U.S. Territories (American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands), and Democrats living outside the United States and those Territories listed above (Democrats Abroad).

"Each jurisdiction is represented by its Chair and the next highest ranking officer of the opposite sex. An additional 200 votes are distributed to the states and territories based on population, with each receiving a minimum of two additional seats. Each delegation must be equally divided between men and women.

"Also seated on the DNC are representatives of various Democratic constituencies and elected officials. These include two U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives, two members of the College Democrats, and three representatives each from the Democratic Governors, Mayors, State Legislators, County Officials. Municipal Officials, Young Democrats, and the National Federation of Democratic Women. Fifty members are appointed by the DNC Chairmen, and approved by the DNC, and are considered 'Members-at-Large.'

So all it would take would be for 221 members of the DNC to agree it's time to replace Kerry. The closest precedent to this is the post-convention replacement of Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern's running mate, with Sargent Shriver in 1972.

Would a majority of those folks vote to dump Kerry if he seemed to be a McGovern-style disaster in the making?

Probably not. For starters, there's no easy choice to replace him. Hillary Clinton appears to be laying the groundwork for 2008. The party could bump up Edwards, or bring in two new guys.

The advantage for the Dems would be that all of the anti-Kerry efforts of the GOP and conservative groups - all the Swift Boat Vets for Truth ads, all the flip-flop jokes, all the "I voted for it before I voted against it" - all of that would get wiped off the table. And if things are looking so horrifically grim, the point of the last-minute switch wouldn't be to win, it would be to make it respectable.

It's like pulling a struggling quarterback in the fourth quarter of a rout, and hoping that the backup QB can at least make the score look respectable when time runs out.

The problem for the Democrats is that there isn't any universally-respected safe alternate. You would need someone acceptable to the Deaniacs, yet that the country could trust in the war on terror.

This isn't likely, and it's just a theory. But if radio talk show host and NRO contributor Michael Graham has thought of this and looked into it ... it's probably a safe bet some DNC lawyer has looked into it.

We're not so sure that Hillary wouldn't accept the role. Nor are we sure that she wouldn't be welcomed with acclaim by Democrats all across the country and be seen as a Joan of Arc riding to the rescue of her party. Even if she didn't win this year she would probably prevent a rout in the senate and house as well as in state houses across the land, and as a consequence she would have a much stronger claim on her party's nomination in 2008.

Listen for the Hillary buzz to rise in intensity in October if it still looks then like Bush is going to run the table.

Steyn Hits a Pair

Mark Steyn has stroked a couple of home runs recently. The first is on "Rathergate":

Of all the loopy statements made by Dan Rather in the 10 days since he decided to throw his career away, my favorite is this, from Dan's interview with the Washington Post on Thursday:

"If the documents are not what we were led to believe, I'd like to break that story."

Hel-looooo? Earth to the Lost Planet of Ratheria: You can't "break that story." A guy called "Buckhead" did that, on the Free Republic Web site a couple of hours after you and your money-no-object resources-a-go-go "60 Minutes" crew attempted to pass off four obvious Microsoft Word documents as authentic 1972 typewritten memos about Bush's skipping latrine duty in the Spanish-American War, or whatever it was.

As the network put it last week, "In accordance with longstanding journalistic ethics, CBS News is not prepared to reveal its confidential sources or the method by which '60 Minutes' Wednesday received the documents." But, once they admit the documents are fake, they can no longer claim "journalistic ethics" as an excuse to protect their source. There's no legal or First Amendment protection afforded to a man who peddles a fraud. You'd think CBS would be mad as hell to find whoever it was who stitched them up and made them look idiots.

So why aren't they? The only reasonable conclusion is that the source -- or trail of sources -- is even more incriminating than the fake documents. Why else would Heyward and Rather allow the CBS news division to commit slow, public suicide?

You can read the rest of this very good column here.

The second outstanding piece by Steyn is on Iraq:

After the predictions of hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and a mass refugee crisis and a humanitarian catastrophe and wall-to-wall cholera and dysentery all failed to pan out, the naysayers fell back on predictions of imminent civil war. But the civil war's as mythical as the universal dysentery.

Do you remember that moment of Fallujah-like depravity in Ulster a few years ago? Two soldiers were yanked from a cab in the wrong part of town and torn apart by a Republican mob. A terrible, shaming episode in the wretched annals of Northern Irish nationalists. But in the rest of the United Kingdom - in Bristol, in Coventry, Newcastle, Aberdeen - life went on, very pleasantly.

That's the way it is in Iraq. In two-thirds of the country, municipal government has been rebuilt, business is good, restaurants are open, life is as jolly as it has been in living memory. This summer the Shia province of Dhi Qar, south-east of Baghdad, held the first free elections in its history, electing secular independents and non-religious parties to its town councils.

Both of these articles are must reading.