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CON: Scapegoat Debbie W.S. should not be ousted

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The two flashpoints giving rise to the campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz around – the debate schedule and the flap with the Sanders campaign over the NGP VAN – are not sufficient to prove favoritism.

The debate schedule is lacking, but there are reasons besides locking down a Clinton nomination for the debate schedule to be sparse. Saying this shows favoritism for Clinton relies on the notion that debates would hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That is unlikely. After most debates in 2008, she came out about the same as President Obama did, landing a few victories and a few losses. However, both Obama and Clinton are talented debaters. There was no reason to believe Senator (D-VT) Bernie Sanders or Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley would get the better of Clinton. That view has been mostly justified. Despite a small slip after the most recent debate, Clinton has mostly steamrolled her opponents in these debates, grabbing decisive victories according to live interview polling numbers (internet polls invite all sorts of biases, so their declaration that Sanders has won each debate is useless information). In fact, Sanders has been steadily gaining on Clinton, but stumbles after each debate comprise most of the gap between the two.

A lack of unsanctioned debates has shrunk the schedule, despite the number of sanctioned debates being about the same as in years past. Unsanctioned debates can become nightmares for the party participating. As campaigns heat up and get nasty, attacks get personal and harm candidates in the general more than they help candidates in the primary. Further, people have a talent to turn everything into a scandal, and nearly every debate in 2008 was followed by rumors of Clinton favoritism. Debates in the primary are a risk, but can be controlled when they are sanctioned. It’s likely Schultz was protecting the field here and not just her friend.

The second firestorm regarding the DNC’s reaction to the NGP VAN’s system breach was baffling. After unlawful activity by the Sanders campaign’s data director, the Sanders campaign managed to spin it into “the DNC is silencing us!” and got off without so much as a sweep to make sure the files were deleted. It’s easily possible that the staffer stole millions of dollars worth of polling numbers. If a tool is being used to break the law, the user loses access. It’s that simple. People go to jail over these kinds of situations. The fact that nothing happened doesn’t show Clinton favoritism, it shows that the DNC cares more about publicity than responsible enforcement of rules. This may be bad, but it’s not favoritism.

In the end, Schultz has presided over an era of endless frustration for liberal Democrats as they lose seats in Congress and watch their policy agenda be shredded by obstructionist Republicans. This may be Schultz’s fault (it probably isn’t, but that is a different debate entirely), but the witch hunt to declare her an undercover Clinton operative is simply not productive.