Michigan’s Clusterfuck: Prelude to a National Clusterfuck?

I’m not the only one calling MI’s primary next week a clusterfuck–one of the state’s top Dem consultants, Mark Grebner, thinks so too, though he doesn’t use the word clusterfuck:

Of course, we may get lucky, but that’s not really "a plan". With Clinton bouncing back tonight in NH, it’s plausible that she and Obama will go round after round, with neither scoring a knockout.

Imagine next that Michigan’s "primary" results in a Clinton landslide on January 15, caused mainly because the opposition will be confused and splintered by the available options. I don’t know whether that will happen, but it may.

The consequence might be that Michigan’s would-be delegation would prove critical to forming a majority. Not at the Convention, most likely, but during the wheeling and dealing phase that leads up to it, as the two sides struggle to assemble a majority.

If this comes to pass, the fight will be between Clinton’s effort to seat Michigan, and Obama’s struggle to uphold the DNC sanctions. One side extending pseudo-grace and forgiveness to our transgressions, while the other side asks in pseudo-good-faith, why he should be punished for complying with the DNC’s rules and following their instructions.


My question is: is there some reason this can’t happen?

I’m marginally less worried than Grebner is about the Democratic side (though trust me–he’s a lot smarter about MI politics), mostly because I’m taking naive solace in the fact that "uncommitted" will appear on ballots, meaning Edwards and Obama supporters won’t have to navigate what would be effectively a write-in vote, but with a legally significant word, to support their candidate. That doesn’t mean Democratic voters won’t choose to vote in the Republican primary, doesn’t mean that those cross-over voters won’t be decisive as they were in 2000 for McCain, and doesn’t mean either party will get a real read of the support for its various candidates from the clusterfuck. It just means that Hillary will win by a smaller landslide (hey–with both Edwards and Obama supporters voting on the same line, who knows?), which will make the clusterfuck imagined by Grebner slightly less severe, though still a real possibility.

Me, I’m more intrigued by the way that Michigan’s clusterfuck may begin to set off a larger clusterfuck for Republicans. There has been no polling in Michigan since mid-December, and in that poll Huck scored remarkably well. I can imagine that a wingnut populist might appeal to Michigan’s depressed Reagan Democrats, to say nothing of the Dutch Reform Christians who run the Republican party in the western part of the state. In any case, Huck just announced he will send some bodies here before South Carolina, in which he promises to do very well.

So we won’t just get the Romney (son of a former popular MI governor) and McCain (beat Bush here in 2000) head-to-head I had imagined. Though in that presumed contest we are already seeing some sour grapes that have been rotting since 2000, with the spokesman for former Governor Engler (whose failure to deliver the state in 2000 lost him an opportunity to serve in Bush’s cabinet) predicting demise for McCain.

"I think McCain will have a good showing, but if he doesn’t win, this could almost be it for him," said John Truscott, a Republican consultant and spokesman for former Michigan Gov. John Engler.

Rather, we’ll have all three reasonably viable Republican candidates, competing in a very very weird vote that will be even less predictable than last night’s Democratic primary in NH.

Which is why I find this statement from Ricky "Man on Dog" Santorum so remarkable.

Former Senator Rick Santorum said the results were the latest indication that Republicans were in for an epic battle among a field of imperfect candidates for the party’s conservative base.

“It comes back to, O.K., Romney can’t win, Huckabee can’t win, McCain can’t win, Giuliani can’t win — the dynamic is you have a bunch of candidates who can’t win,” Mr. Santorum said. “I don’t see how we don’t come down to a convention that is going to decide this thing.”

Here’s the thing–I think Romney, McCain, and Huck are all viable in MI; it’ll be the first state (and the only one before Florida) where it’ll be a three-way race among all these candidates "who can’t win." But it’s going to be a very weird vote, with one week, no polling, high costs, and the whole cross-over thing, to confuse the issue. I suspect McCain will win, but I also suspect this primary may end up stumping the pundits even more than Hillary’s win last night did, even as it takes on unexpected importance.

Which makes it very possible it will elicit more comments like Man on Dog Santorum, with people already–after just the second or third state–predicting a brokered convention and hoping (presumably) for some nationally viable candidate to save the poor GOP from the clusterfuck it’s heading towards.

Or maybe Man on Dog Santorum is just seeding that possibility, believing he would be any more of a savior for his party than any of these nutcases are.

37 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    I don’t imagine Bloomberg will run as a Republican, nor do I imagine he’d avoid some of the problems that Giuliani has. I just can’t think of someone who’s a viable businessman type who is, at the same time, sufficiently fundamentalist. Maybe Fristie will get to run for President after all???

    • phred says:

      Is it even possible for Candidate “None of the Above” to emerge from the convention? My understanding of the Dem side suggests that delegates are divvied up by the results from the primaries, along with other delegates assigned from specific group endorsements, so by the time you get to the convention a lot of the votes are locked up.

      I can see a shiny new Republican stepping up to the plate to run some sort of independent campaign, but I don’t think it is possible for the Repubs to go to the convention and pick someone completely different from the field in the primaries. Am I wrong about that?

  2. Rayne says:

    Union folks cross over to vote McCain if they don’t vote ‘Uncommitted’.

    Casual survey says HRC has the gay community.

    Reporter specializing in hate groups and ‘psycho Christianists’ says that efforts to mobilize that segment of the base is under way, and not to discount it.

    Definitely all the hallmarks of a giant clusterfuck.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think Huck will do surprisingly well here. Surprisingly well. It might be the best way to keep all three viable and therefore hasten the clusterfuck.

      Regarding Obama, I’m not so sure about the gay community, at least not the community in “People’s Republic” which is, after all, run by gays, they say.

      • Rayne says:

        Anecdotal from someone who has allowed me to characterize them as “a long-time party activist” for the purposes of reporting, but whom I also know as someone with “close ties to labor” and the ability to muster all the ground game necessary to win for at least half the state. First name basis with the governor, too.

        They’ve already discussed crossing over with someone who’s the next level up in their organization, and they’ve already expressed their displeasure to an entire congressional district’s Dem leadership.

        It’s about as formal as the non-endorsements you’ll see from other union figures who’ll say, “We’re not making an endorsement, but I’m personally supporting…”

    • BlueStateRedHead says:

      Mobilize for whom? And which psychoes? Does he include the Prince of Blackwater super-duper Calvinists? Curious, could you explain?

      • Rayne says:

        Sorry, been tied up, couldn’t get back here to respond.

        Re: mobilize — we’re talking about labor resources brought to bear.

        Re: psychos — reporter in question specializes in the entire lot of them; new one on me that is mobilizing is the “Gothardites“. (WTF? I expect you’ll be able to identify this group when they show up at the polls since they will consist of women dressed very conservatively and doing only what their patriarch tells them…) anyhow, we have information that says even these obscure groups are mobilizing to vote for the Huckster. The Prince of B-W is Catholic, if memory serves; don’t know if they’re going to be mobilized like the Protestant fundies will surely be.

  3. Rayne says:

    OT — reading “Ghost Plane” right now.

    Page 157, regarding Rummy on Abu Ghraib:

    “You know,” he siad, “what was going on in the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib Prison halfway across he world is something that clearly someone in Washington, D.C., can’t manage or deal with” (author’s emphasis). By 2006, Rumsfeld was still talking of “what was done by that midnight watch group of people at Abu Ghraib,…

    Midnight Baghdad is 6:00 pm EST.

  4. JodiDog says:

    Some people pay attention to that old saw:

    Profanity is the means by which a weak mind attempts to express itself forcibly.”

  5. BayStateLibrul says:

    OT, Sorry, I’m obsessed with the Clemens lying.
    One week ago: Clemens is a lying sack of shit
    Today: Clemens is a fucking lying sack of shit.
    Tomorrow: Clemens is a fucking lying fucking sack of shit.
    Now, I feel much better…


    • bmaz says:

      The Congressional hearing is being postponed because the government panicked and is fearful that Novitsky, McNamee and Radomski will give critically problematic testimony (whether it be perjury, actual truth or fatal recantations) before Congress before they have Radomski sentenced. Now why in the world are they worried about that I wonder? And McNamee is seeking his second grant of immunity in the same investigation because he is concerned about criminal implications of his testimony, before the testimony is even given? Now why in the world is he worried about that I wonder? However, the one guy who is raring to go right here and now without any continuance and give full testimony without even the hint of a request for immunity (actually a disdainful refusal to even consider a request for immunity) is Clemens. You may not like Clemens, but I am telling you, this thing smells so bad that it almost knocks me out. They got the IRS, DOJ, FBI, DEA, 2 US Attorney’s Offices, Major League Baseball and the Untied States Congress all diligently conspiring to try to pimp little ole Clemens. Yet he is the one ready to stand up under oath and get on with it. Hmmm…. I guess he’s guilty, but this sure is a curious situation for such a guilty man.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Good counterpunches.
        Make take on Clemens.
        His wife Debbie is wicked pissed… and Clemens is behaving
        “I got another [expletive] question the other day about the Hall of Fame,” Clemens said, nostrils flaring, as he prepared to bolt. “You think I played my career because I’m worried about the damn Hall of Fame? I could give a rat’s ass about that also. If you have a vote . . . you keep your vote. I don’t need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off. And I defy anybody to say I did it by cheating or taking any shortcuts.”
        Ballplayers live for the Hall…
        Roger has gone off the deep end cuz he DID it…
        But again, I’m prejudiced because I think he is an arrogant, no good
        Yadda, Yadda… and did you see his rant on Vioxx…
        The guy is demented….
        Makes for an interesting Shakespearian tragedy though…

        • bmaz says:

          Eh, pay no attention to me; I have a fair amount of prior experience with “why they all pickin on my client” spiel. Heh, occasionally it is even valid….

          • BayStateLibrul says:

            You keep me honest.
            Why does Tweety and KO talk so much about the election and forget
            about the DOJ, destruction of the tapes and Bush’s high crimes.
            Has Bush become irrelevant, and do I have to wait until next November
            before our nightmare ends.
            At least we’ve got the trash talking for sanity…

    • phred says:

      Thank God we can count on the Judicial Branch to faithfully act in its role as a check on government excesses by the other two branches. Whew! What a relief. Not.

      • phred says:

        This is a particular relief knowing that all we have to do is wait until November to be led in a rousing chorus of Kum Ba Yah by Obama or for Hillary to follow Nancy and Harry’s lead in turning a blind eye. Ok, I’ll stop grousing now…

  6. PetePierce says:

    Another Bushie Wussie in the D.C. Circuit (at the trial level covers up for Bushie)

    Congratulations to ex-DOJster Judge Henry Kennedy who refuses to grow a pair and is allowing Mukasey to obfuscate on the CIA tapes, along with CIA who today said that he would leave the investigation to Unitary Executive DOJ.

    Judge Henry Kennedy’s Order

    George Tenet lawyered up for the tape investigation yesterday, but does he even need an attorney with Mukasey investigating?

    And the beat goes on. Congress and the Judiciary roll over and play wussey for Bushy, as DOJ continues to run interference like a Mafia Consigliere. Mukasey and the judges (both trial and appe;late) in the D.C. Circuit could have played Silvio Dante on the Sopranos.

  7. Hmmm says:

    (At the risk of boring all and sundry with my repetition:) Don’t let’s forget, Sunday before last, Kristol “joked” that the R’s should draft Cheney for Prez. Remember, Cheney got onto the GOP ticket in 2000 because he was given the job of chairing the VP search committee, and while in the chair said, “Well, how ’bout me?” So not wholly out of touch with reality to suggest he might intervene in the candidate selection process again. After all, he has plenty to hold over R heads, to judge from appearances.

  8. maryo2 says:

    OT – three minutes ago AP reported – “WASHINGTON — Attorneys for Jose Rodriguez told Congress that the former CIA official won’t testify about the destruction of CIA videotapes without a promise of immunity, a person close to the tapes inquiry said Wednesday.”

    • MadDog says:

      Our predictions are coming true.

      I wonder if Bob Bennett is shucking that same line to the DOJ?

      And if they laughing or typing furiously to draft such an agreement?

    • phred says:

      Yeah and what do you bet that was the whole point all along, thanks to his good ol’ buddy Reyes.

      Guess I was wrong, I’m still grousing…

  9. Linfalas says:

    In terms of events most likely to cause pundit heads to spontaneously combust: what would a Ron Paul win in Michigan do? I personally would like to see that happen if only that Paul’s inclusion in future Republican debates would highlight the insanity of the other Republican candidate foreign policies.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, Paul won’t WIN the MI primary. There are four viable candidates (Hillary, Mitt, McCAin, and Huck), plus a lot of Obama or Edwards supporters who don’t want Hillary to get a gimme.

      But he might collect a good bunch of votes. Perhaps it will teach MI not to run primaries unless they mean it.

      • bmaz says:

        Other than the name on some buildings, how prominent is the Romney clan in Michigan these days? Or the Pratts too I guess? Does the Romney name really have much juice there anymore? I am surprised none of the high minded Goopers have swift boated the Mittster over his parents being Mexican immigrants.

        • emptywheel says:

          Well, do you think a Goldwater offspring would have an advantage in AZ?

          The party has gotten way more wingnut since Daddy Romney, but then his son has followed the party. That said, as with Goldwater, the name Romney decorates a number of important buildings in the state.

          • bmaz says:

            Heh, that doesn’t bode well for Mitt then. Barry’s nephew, Don Goldwater, took a run at the Arizona Governorship last election (2006). He couldn’t even make it out of the GOP primary against a Rove Young Republican acolyte by the name of Len Munsil, Munsil went on to get waxed by 30 points by Democrat Janet Napolitano in the general. Shortly before Barry died, a bunch of rabid “Reagan Conservatives” (of which Munsil was one I think) tried to have Goldwater’s name stripped off of the state GOP Headquarters Building because Barry, not long before he died, met with Bill and Hillary Clinton instead of Bob Dole when all were in town for a 1996 debate or something. Barry was a different guy during his later years and kind of had a sweet spot for Clinton (really liked Hillary too). Actually, he was always a different guy if you knew him, he just didn’t give a damn about showing it as he was older and out of politics. The modern Goopers here have about zero in common with Goldwater and his name really doesn’t have that much cache with them.

  10. JodiDog says:

    Well, my grand mom said they washed out the mouths of the bad little boys who used such language with “lye soap.”


    I don’t know what the treatment was for the girls. Grand mom said it never happened to any girls she knew.

    Personally the fear of God and my Mom was enough to keep me straight.

    Well until Middle School anyway.

    : )

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