Is Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz unfairly attempting to protect Hillary Clinton?
At the recent DNC meeting in Minneapolis, Clinton and her fellow Democratic presidential candidates met with party leaders, taking the opportunity to address the insiders as opposed to the masses. While Clinton was comfortable and confident among her fellow Washington insiders, competitors Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley were hungry for change. Sanders, who is steadily rising in the polls against Clinton, including closing to within seven points of her in Iowa, has joined with the former Maryland governor in complaining about the DNC’s meager debate schedule. For this election cycle, the DNC has only sanctioned six Democratic debates, with only four to occur before the beginning of the primaries. Critics have contended that the minimal debate schedule is intended to protect and insulate frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who might lose ground when forced to spar with Sanders and O’Malley onstage.
Many Democrats agree with the need for more debates and are incensed that the DNC has threatened to punish any Democratic candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates by banning them from the six sanctioned ones. The controversial rule appears intended to prevent non-frontrunner candidates from debating each other, debating Republicans, or challenging Hillary Clinton to debates…all of which would garner plenty of press. And when Martin O’Malley called for additional Democratic debates and criticized the policy of punishing unsanctioned debates, his words apparently riled DNC head Schultz.
Schultz defended the debate schedule and insisted that the rule punishing those who engage in unsanctioned debates is not illegal. She also ruled that a motion to increase the number of sanctioned Democratic debates was out of order. But was it really?
On Reddit, a growing story reports that Nancy Worley, Chairwoman of the Alabama Democratic Party, was at the Minneapolis DNC meeting and heard “Jim Roosevelt, Chair of Rules and Bylaws, tell the Parliamentarian and Chair that the ruling that the motion [to increase the number of Democratic debates] was out of order was improperly ruled.” Did Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a known Clinton supporter, intentionally break proper procedure by hastily overruling a call for more Democratic debates? Is the head of the Democratic National Committee attempting to shield Clinton from having to compete with increasingly-popular challengers like Bernie Sanders?
The possibility that Schultz is intentionally trying to shield Clinton from competition is supported by Clinton’s own strategies in 2008, when she pressed frontrunner Barack Obama for more debates and mocked him for giving “speeches” rather than having to “answer questions.” In the spring of 2008, when Clinton lost the status of Democratic presidential frontrunner to Barack Obama, she wanted more chances to debate him. Now that she is the presidential frontrunner once again, she is just fine with only a handful of debates. Ironic, no?
Clinton’s debate flip-flop from ’08 to ’16 reveals that she and Schultz are well aware of the risks and benefits of publicized debates. Are they complicit in trying to rig the DNC rules and policies to favor the frontrunner? It sounds like a new scandal may be brewing…let’s call it “Debategate.”