Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Modest Suggestion: End the Agita Now!

Here is a transcript of US Sen. Chris Dodd’s interview with the National Journal:

Q: As I mentioned earlier, you were the General Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Now, you know that a lot of Democrats feel that this increasingly bitter race between Obama and Clinton is hurting the party. First of all, do you think that is true, and secondly, if you were in charge, what would you do?

Dodd: Well, I think it is hurting. Look, we’ve got five more months to go before the Democratic Convention at the end of August and, candidly, we cannot go five more months with the kind of daily sniping that’s going on and have a candidate emerge in that convention. My hope is that it will be Barack Obama, but if it’s Hillary Clinton, she too will suffer, in my view, from this kind of a campaign that I think is undermining the credibility and the quality of the two candidates that we have. We have two very strong candidates. So I’m worried about this going on endlessly and to a large extent, Linda, the media, a lot of these cable networks, are enjoying this. It’s what is keeping them alive financially. The fact that this thing is going on forever, back and forth every day, all night — I don’t think it’s really helping the candidates or the political institutions.

Q: What’s the solution?

Dodd: Well, the solution is, look, we’ve got a contest coming up in Pennsylvania and one in North Carolina and Indiana very quickly afterwards. In my view, the outcome of those three races will determine — I think the race has been determined, anyway, at this point. I think it’s very difficult to imagine how anyone can believe that Barack Obama can’t be the nominee of the party. I think that’s a foregone conclusion, in my view, at this juncture given where things are. But certainly over the next couple of weeks, as we get into April, it seems to me then, that the national leadership of this party has to stand up and reach a conclusion. And in the absence of doing that — and that’s not easy and I realize it’s painful — but the alternative, allowing this sort of to fester over the months of June, and July and August, I think are irresponsible. I think you have to make a decision, and hopefully the candidates will respect it and people will rally behind a nominee that, I think, emerges from these contests over the next month. That’s my suggestion, that’s what I would do.

Q: So you’re talking about putting together, what, a committee of elders? What do you mean, exactly?

Dodd: Well, again, I think you are looking at people who are already in positions of leadership in the Congress– Governors, Senators, and others, the leadership of the DNC, whatever it is. It seems to me you’ve got to have an issue here that transcends your favorite candidate and decide whether or not the best candidate we have to win this election, to bring our country together and to get behind that choice, instead of having this sort of drip on for the next five months — that is devastating in my view. I think it hurts our candidate at a time when the country is looking for an alternative choice, I think we have an opportunity to do that. So I would advocate that we try and let this run out for the next few weeks, but then consolidate behind that candidate that’s clearly the choice and will win the nomination.

Q: So you go to the person who seems to be the winner after these most recent contests and you tell the other person to drop out? Is that, essentially, what you are saying?

Dodd: Well, it’s more deciding who the winner of this is — I mean, if a person wants to stay in the race, stay in the race. But if you have enough people rallying behind what appears to be the likely choice, and I believe the choice is Barack Obama, and I believe that will be the choice over the next several weeks. Then I think you have to step up to the plate and say, enough is enough. We want this to be over with. We want to get behind this candidate, and we want people to pull together to win that election in November — to build those majorities in the House and the Senate if we can, and then start doing the work on health care and Iraq and all these other issues that demand our attention.

The agita among Democrats may be easily settled. Let the party move the nominating convention to, say, April 1, an ironically fitting date. Any date short of chaos will due.

All the states will send delegates to the convention at that point, all primaries having been suspended.

The delegate will vote on a candidate, and the embarrassing farce will end.

The Democrats are headed to a brokered convention anyway. Just schedule it earlier.

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