Going Out Like Al Gore

Tom Edsall argues that Hillary Clinton would get some “Big Rewards” if she drops out of the race now.

She has ruled it out, but a prompt withdrawal from the contest for the Democratic nomination offers Sen. Hillary Clinton the prospect of major rewards.

One of the most inviting is the near certainty that the Obama campaign would agree to pay back the $11.4 million she has loaned her own bid, along with an estimated $10 million to $15 million in unpaid campaign expenses.

In addition, Democrats, both those who are loyal and those who are opposed to her campaign, say the odds of her winning a top leadership spot in the Senate would improve dramatically if she gracefully conceded now. The icing on the cake includes an improved political climate, giving Hillary and Bill Clinton the opportunity to heal the rift with the black political community.

“If she leaves the stage gracefully, as Gore did in 2000, she will be able to rebuild her political capital within the party fairly quickly, and over time most of her perceived and real sins will be long forgiven and/or forgotten,” said Dan Gerstein, a Democratic consultant and Obama supporter.

If Al Gore is the model, Hillary can stay in past the convention, demand a recount, and wait until the Supreme Court tells her it’s over. Which, come to think of it, might be exactly her plan.

FILED UNDER: General, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Yep, I think that’s exactly her plan. Attempting to think like the Clinton campaign, it does the party no good whatever to be saddled with a poorer candidate or to lose in November. She’ll stay in for the good of the party.

    And what can they offer her as a reward for bowing out? My guess is that the Clinton campaign’s position is that Barack Obama should bow out, endorse Clinton, and try again in 8 years.

  2. Bithead says:

    Well, the hanky Panky going on in Indiana may actually give her a chance to do that, James.

  3. Michael says:

    One of the most inviting is the near certainty that the Obama campaign would agree to pay back the $11.4 million she has loaned her own bid, along with an estimated $10 million to $15 million in unpaid campaign expenses.

    Uh, what? Is there precedent for this to happen? Has Obama’s campaign been offering to do this? What exactly makes this a “near certainty”?

    If she leaves the stage gracefully, as Gore did in 2000Edsall has a funny definition of “graceful”.

    Well, the hanky Panky going on in Indiana may actually give her a chance to do that

    What “hanky panky”? Or were you just itching for a reason to use that phrase?

  4. SeniorD says:

    Who said Algore exited quietly? If I remember, he took the entire State of Florida to the Supreme Court over re-counts in a few Democrat controlled counties.

    Does the term ‘Hanging Chad’ ring any bells with anyone?

  5. SoloD says:

    Gore left the scene in 2000 after the Supreme Court’s ruling and did not challenge the results in Congress, nor set up a “shadow government” as some people urged him to, which would have served to de-legitimize the Bush Admin.

    Had he wanted to, he could have made life very difficult, but instead went quiet. It’s a good model for Hillary.

  6. Michael says:

    Gore left the scene in 2000 after the Supreme Court’s ruling and did not challenge the results in Congress, nor set up a “shadow government” as some people urged him to, which would have served to de-legitimize the Bush Admin.

    Or, you can say that he exhausted his options for legal remedy, and chose to respect the law and the constitution. I wouldn’t call that graceful, I’d call that decent.

  7. Bithead says:

    What Hanky Panky?
    Oh, come on.
    You can’t tell me all this is news to you.

  8. carpeicthus says:

    Wow, pretty bad memories, folks. Bush took it to the Supreme Court. You can look it up and stuff. Continue on with your false metanarratives.

  9. James Joyner says:

    Bush took it to the Supreme Court. You can look it up and stuff. Continue on with your false metanarratives.

    It’s true that Bush appealed the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. This was pursuant, however, to Gore having taken Florida to court to overturn its election laws, having failed to secure enough votes in the original count and the recount.

    The chronology:

    • Sunday, Nov. 26—Harris certifies Bush as the winner of Florida’s 25 electoral votes, with a 537-vote lead over Gore. Gore pledges to challenge certification in court. The tally does not include results from Palm Beach County, which finished its hand recount hours after the deadline.
    • Monday, Nov. 27—Gore contests the Florida results in a circuit court in Tallahassee.
    • Wednesday, Nov. 29—Leon County Circuit Court judge N. Sanders Sauls orders that all ballots from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties be sent to Tallahassee for a hearing on whether the hand count, which was incomplete at the time of the court-ordered Nov. 26 deadline, should be included in the final vote tally.
    • Thursday, Nov. 30—Florida lawmakers, voting along party lines, recommend holding a special session to name the state’s 25 electors if the election dispute is not resolved by Dec. 12, six days before the electoral college meets.
    • Friday, Dec. 1—The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the Florida Supreme Court acted properly when it forced the Florida secretary of state to accept manual recounts submitted after the legal deadline.
    •  The Florida Supreme Court denies Gore’s appeal to immediately begin recounting ballots and rejects motion filed by some Palm Beach County citizens who questioned the integrity of the “butterfly ballot.”
    •  Gore requests a count of approximately 14,000 “undervotes” from Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
    • Monday, Dec. 4—Judge Sauls rejects Gore’s contest of the election results, saying the vice president failed to prove that hand recounts would have altered the results. Gore appeals to the Florida Supreme Court.
    •  U.S. Supreme Court asks Florida Supreme Court to explain why it ordered Harris to accept results submitted after the Nov. 14 deadline mandated by state law, thus returning the case to Tallahassee.
    • Thursday, Dec. 7—Gore’s legal team appeals Sauls’s ruling. Bush’s lawyers argue that the decision should stand.
    • Friday, Dec. 8—The Florida Supreme Court, ruling on Gore’s appeal, orders manual recounts in counties with large numbers of undervotes. Bush appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and seeks injunction to stop recounts.
    •  In two separate lawsuits, Leon County Circuit Court judges refuse to throw out absentee ballots from Seminole and Martin counties that had been disputed by Gore.
    • Saturday, Dec. 9—The U.S. Supreme Court votes 5–4 to halt the hand recounts and sets a hearing for Dec. 11.
    •  Florida Supreme Court hears appeal on whether absentee ballots in Martin and Seminole counties should be counted.
    • Tuesday, Dec. 12—The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Bush v. Gore to reverse the Florida Supreme Court, which had ordered manual recounts in certain counties. The Court contends that the recount was not treating all ballots equally, and was thus a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees. The Supreme Court of Florida would be required to set up new voting standards and carry them out in a recount. The justices, however, split 5–4 along partisan lines about implementing a remedy. Five justices maintain that this process and the recount must adhere to the official deadline for certifying electoral college votes: midnight, Dec. 12; other justices question the importance of this date. Since the Court makes its ruling just hours before the deadline, it in effect ensures that it is too late for a recount. The decision generates enormous controversy. Those objecting to the ruling assert that the Supreme Court, and not the electorate, has effectively determined the outcome of the presidential election. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes in a scathing dissent, “the Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States.”
    • Wednesday, Dec. 13—In another decision, Florida Supreme Court decides not to hear an appeal from Gore asking that absentee ballots from Martin and Seminole counties be thrown out.
    •  In televised speeches, Gore concedes, and Bush accepts the presidency.
  10. SoloD says:

    “Or, you can say that he exhausted his options for legal remedy, and chose to respect the law and the constitution. I wouldn’t call that graceful, I’d call that decent.”

    Decent . . . graceful . . . Tomato . . . Tomaato

    Point is he didn’t screw up the system once it was clear he couldn’t win. And didn’t start a 2004 campaign before the inauguration. In fact, he pretty much didn’t say anything after his great speech following the Supreme Court ruling.

  11. Michael says:

    What Hanky Panky?
    Oh, come on.
    You can’t tell me all this is news to you.

    Well I was hearing them say it was going to be late into the night before they would be making results available the morning of the election, at the time they were saying no earlier than 9 or 10 pm, so I wasn’t really surprised when it was after midnight that they came out.

    As for voting machines going “flooey”, depending on the voting machines being used, I wouldn’t be surprised. Diebold machines have been demonstrated to be unreliable many times over, as have those from other manufacturers. Calling it “a near impossibility, unless someone’s been software tampering” is just ridiculous.

  12. Michael says:

    Decent . . . graceful . . . Tomato . . . Tomaato

    Um, no. I praise people for being graceful, but I expect people to be decent.

  13. SoloD says:

    Michael,

    I would take a look back at the coverage at that time. Gore’s behavior after the Supreme spoke (and I won’t comment on their reasoning) was both decent and graceful. His words and (in)actions allowed Bush to have a normal start to his Presidency and escape having a taint placed over it. (For the most part)

    Given that Gore won the popular vote and the closeness of Florida, it could have really caused a crisis. Gore’s gracefulness after it was clear that he couldn’t win gave Bush an opportunity (which he didn’t take) to try and be a “uniter, not a divider” for the country.

  14. Michael says:

    I would take a look back at the coverage at that time. Gore’s behavior after the Supreme spoke (and I won’t comment on their reasoning) was both decent and graceful. His words and (in)actions allowed Bush to have a normal start to his Presidency and escape having a taint placed over it. (For the most part)

    Gore’s behavior both before and after the court decisions was what I consider decent. He didn’t do anything I would consider especially graceful, certainly he didn’t surprise me by any of this actions.

    Given that Gore won the popular vote and the closeness of Florida, it could have really caused a crisis.

    Only if Gore decided that winning was more important than the rule of law. The popular vote doesn’t matter, it’s nice to have, but it doesn’t matter. The closeness of Florida caused the recounts, which I believe was the right thing to do. There were questions about the legality of some of the process, and the courts fulfilled their duties in ruling on them, and the appeals process worked as it was supposed to, and, having appealed to the highest authority allowed under the Constitution, Gore accepted the outcome of our system.

  15. SoloD says:

    As a strong supporter of Gore in 00, I can say that his words and (in)actions allowed me to move beyond what I (still) consider to be a highly questionable result. Ultimately, Gore is what allowed me to hope that Bush would live up to his words about uniting the Country.

    You may consider it only decent, and what a normal person would do (although that posits that any politician running for President is normal), but I believe it went beyond decent and was a service to the country.

    (Only a personal observation, but I don’t think that I am alone among Gore’s supporters in 00.)

  16. Wayne says:

    Gore ran out of every legal option except to take it to Congress and he would have lost there.

    From the comments about Gore being decent and graceful, I take it if Hillary tries to take this to a broker convention, exhaust every legal means including getting Florida and Michigan seated, challenging the Dems process, challenging any voting irregularities that she will be considered decent and graceful?

  17. Bithead says:

    As for voting machines going “flooey”, depending on the voting machines being used, I wouldn’t be surprised. Diebold machines have been demonstrated to be unreliable many times over, as have those from other manufacturers. Calling it “a near impossibility, unless someone’s been software tampering” is just ridiculous.

    Not at all, paricularly if they were Diebolds, since those create a paper trail.

    And, Mike? Do you happen to know what the failure rate for machines in OTHER counties, is, by chance?

    Better go read about that before going on about it. That so many would have failed in just this one county kinda stretches the laws of probability just a tad. Add to that the history of the county and who is running that elections board, and there’s more than good reason to question the outcome, here.

  18. Michael says:

    Not at all, paricularly if they were Diebolds, since those create a paper trail.

    Do those all create paper trails now? Good to know. Some news reports were saying that the Lake County machines didn’t though, so maybe they weren’t Diebold.

    And, Mike? Do you happen to know what the failure rate for machines in OTHER counties, is, by chance?

    Probably the same as they are here, since the same companies are selling the voting machines overseas as they are here.

    That so many would have failed in just this one county kinda stretches the laws of probability just a tad.

    How many have failed? I haven’t even heard official reports that there were failures, let alone actual numbers. I guess some news is even slower to get out than the election results.

    Add to that the history of the county and who is running that elections board, and there’s more than good reason to question the outcome, here.

    But the outcome wasn’t enough for Obama to win. If the board were staffed by Clinton supporters, and the final results were exactly the same (just shy of enough for Obama to win the state), the exact same evidence you’re relying on would be used to support conspiracy theories against Clinton.

  19. Dantheman says:

    James,

    Way to cherry-pick the history of the Florida recount! Why not start with (from the site you cited):

    “Saturday, Nov. 11—The Bush team, led by former secretary of state James Baker, files suit in federal court to block Gore’s request for a hand recount.”

    or

    [from November 13]” A federal judge in Miami rejects Bush’s efforts to halt manual recounts. Bush appeals the decision.”

    or even find a chronology which mentions the riot led by Republican Congressional staff members to break up the hand-counting?

    It was the Bush side which went to court first and the Bush side which threatened violence to prevent the processes set forth under law from being completed. Gore being graceful in response to the Bush side’s actions is exceptional.

  20. Bithead says:

    Do those all create paper trails now? Good to know. Some news reports were saying that the Lake County machines didn’t though, so maybe they weren’t Diebold.

    Exactly why I worded my peice as I did. I may typo the hell out of stuff, but generally speaking, I have a very solid reasoning behind my wording. if I’m not mistaken, they’re Infinity machines. (Aren’t black holes infinite?)
    As to the numbers of failures, I can’t find references on line, but I’m heard on the way in this morning a figure of ‘around 40’… I’m trying to veryify that now.

    I’m also seeing reports that around 11,000 last minute absentee ballots showed up on the last day. A little high, I’d say. I wonder about their verification, and which way those ballots were marked, don’t you?

    But the outcome wasn’t enough for Obama to win. If the board were staffed by Clinton supporters, and the final results were exactly the same (just shy of enough for Obama to win the state), the exact same evidence you’re relying on would be used to support conspiracy theories against Clinton.

    The judgement here is not based on their success or failure, but more on who it is that would benefit. Clinton was solidly ahead in all the polling data. She wouldn’t have benefitted significantly by the kind of actions we’re talking about. Obama would, and so would the DNC muckties who are desperate to put this primary behind them, and who, as I’ve alrready noted, have freinds on the elections board in Lake County, the reports say.

    While not proven, this is not a major leap, Mike. I’d not put it past them, given what we saw in 2000. You?

  21. James Joyner says:

    It was the Bush side which went to court first and the Bush side which threatened violence to prevent the processes set forth under law from being completed. Gore being graceful in response to the Bush side’s actions is exceptional.

    I started the chronology where I did because that’s the case that went to SCOTUS. Gore managed to get Democratic local election officials to flout black letter law and Bush went to court, unsuccessfully, to stop him.

    Bush v Gore started, though, when Gore challenged the Republican secretary of state’s certification, per the law, of the results.

  22. Wayne says:

    “the riot led by Republican Congressional staff members to break up the hand-counting”

    They did not break up a hand recount. They protested Democrats operatives taking the ballots into a back room to count them in private without any Republican representative. I sure you thought would have been fair.

  23. Michael says:

    Aren’t black holes infinite?

    Not technically, no.

    As to the numbers of failures, I can’t find references on line, but I’m heard on the way in this morning a figure of ‘around 40’… I’m trying to veryify that now.

    Thanks, and anything you can find out about the nature of the failure would be good too.

    I’m also seeing reports that around 11,000 last minute absentee ballots showed up on the last day. A little high, I’d say.

    They did say they were higher than expected, but so was election day turnout, so I’m not sure its unreasonably high.

    I wonder about their verification, and which way those ballots were marked, don’t you?

    I don’t wonder about their verification any more than I wonder about the verification of absentee ballots turned in well in advance. Nobody has said the verification process was changed for the late ballots.

  24. Bithead says:

    Thanks, and anything you can find out about the nature of the failure would be good too

    I guess I shoulda mentioned that, huh? Sorry.
    The two reports I caught didn’t get very technical, but the first report I caught suggested that the problem was that the totals didn’t add up correctly with the stated votes, on a per machine basis.

    Nobody has said the verification process was changed for the late ballots.

    On paper, no, but lets face it; when you’re in a hurry, processes tend to change, even absent any intent to defraud.

  25. Michael says:

    The two reports I caught didn’t get very technical, but the first report I caught suggested that the problem was that the totals didn’t add up correctly with the stated votes, on a per machine basis.

    Was all the discrepancy in Obama’s favor?

    On paper, no, but lets face it; when you’re in a hurry, processes tend to change, even absent any intent to defraud.

    Usually true, but Lake County didn’t seem to be in a hurry, did they?

  26. Bithead says:

    Was all the discrepancy in Obama’s favor?

    That’s not been broken out as yet, in the reports, But there seems a rather strong chance of that given the numbers we were given prior to those absentee ballots being counted, and the final tabs.

    Usually true, but Lake County didn’t seem to be in a hurry, did they?

    I cannot imagine that they were not under very serious pressure to get the counts out.