THE PLANK FEBRUARY 12, 2008
In a sign that the spin war over the significance of super-delegates
is underway in earnest, Harold Ickes told assorted Hillary supporters
on a private conference call yesterday that the campaign wants them to
start referring to super-delegates as "automatic delegates," according
to someone on the call.
The person I spoke to paraphrases Ickes, who is spearheading
Hillary's super-delegate hunt, this way: "We're no longer using the
phrase super delegates. It creates a wrong impression. They're called
automatic delegates. Because that's what they are."
The worry appears to be that the phrase "super-delegates" implies
that "they have super-powers or super influence when they don't," the
source says, describing Ickes' thinking. In other words, the phrase
suggests that they have greater than average clout and that they have
the power to overrule the democratic process, giving it the taint of
back-room power politics.
The new term "automatic delegates" appears to be ostensibly a reference to the fact that these folks are super-delegates automatically, by virtue of their office or position.
What an amazing load of rubbish. They're called "super-delegates" because that's what they've always been called. (And they do, after all, have "the power to overrule the democratic process.") Moreover, if I heard the phrase "automatic delegates" I would assume it meant the very opposite of what it does--that is, delegates who get assigned to one candidate or the other on the basis of state votes, rather than nondemocratic free-floaters--and I sincerely doubt that this confusing impact of Ickes's chosen nomenclature is anything but intentional.
On the other hand, I suppose I should be glad that Ickes didn't tell supporters that from here on out he expected them to refer to super-delegates as "decent, ordinary folk," "real Americans," or "the will of the voters."