The Man Who Wrote the Rules

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Few people in American politics have more stories — or more scars — than Harold M. Ickes, the flamboyant and foul-mouthed son and namesake of FDR’s great cabinet secretary and the man in whose hands rest Hillary Clinton’s slim-but-still-real chances of wresting the Democratic presidential nomination away from Barack Obama. Ickes’ job is convincing uncommitted superdelegates that Hillary is more electable than Barack, and should therefore get the nod. He is also responsible for negotiating a favorable-to-Hillary resolution to the Florida and Michigan primaries. Impossible tasks, you say? Probably. But Ickes isn’t the type to settle for failure happily, or without an all-out fight. The superdelegates he calls aren’t likely to be asked nicely — especially not the ones he feels owe the Clintons their support. Ickes once yelled, again and again, at an uncooperative vendor at the 1996 Democratic convention, “Are you jiving me, motherf******!” He threatened to throw another vendor out of a skybox. As you may recall, that convention went pretty well.

Here’s a story I wrote about Ickes in this week’s print magazine.