Commentary Magazine


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I, Wexler

All day yesterday, the Democratic National Committee deliberated on how to resolve the dispute over seating delegates in Florida and Michigan.  The process was choreographed to look like a better-attended Senate hearing, with a panel of DNC big shots hearing testimony from superdelegates affiliated with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.  (Appropriately, CNN’s kindly but profoundly uninspired Wolf Blitzer covered the proceedings with exuberance befitting late-night C-SPAN programming.)

The Obama and Clinton campaigns were divided as to how the delegate dispute should be resolved. Clinton’s supporters demanded that the results of both states’ primaries be counted, and that delegates be awarded in full. Obama’s supporters disagreed, arguing that Obama had followed the party’s rules against counting Florida and Michigan’s early primaries when he declined to campaign in either state.  Still, “party unity” remained the all-important catchphrase of the day, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) thus offered an “extraordinary concession” on behalf of the Obama campaign: that Florida’s delegation be seated at half-strength, which was the solution that the DNC ultimately adopted for both disputed states.

Of course, this was the most reasonable solution-as well as identical to the approach that Republicans adopted five months ago when confronted with Florida and Michigan‘s rule-breaking early primaries.  But somewhere within Wexler’s screaming “testimony,” the topic of discussion veered from how to resolve the delegate dispute to a show of maniacal self-aggrandizement:

We’ve talked today about voters’ rights.  No one in the state of Florida has championed voters’ rights more than I.  The irony … this voter-verifiable bill that has been talked about today, there was one person respectfully in the state of Florida who for five years fought for the right of Floridians to have their vote counted and verified and you’re looking at him.  And when I lost, when I got beat, when I got beat by that same Republican legislature and that governor Jeb Bush in Florida, I took my case to court, every way up the state court, every way up the federal court, and we didn’t prevail.  And finally, when we had a new governor, I prevailed on that new Republican governor to give Floridians to the right to have their vote counted by a voter-verified paper trail.  There is nobody more committed to that than me.  That, respectfully, may be one of the reasons why Senator Obama chose me to be here today. . .

This is only the latest in Rep. Wexler’s long history of making every issue in which he becomes involved all about him.