Obviously, the Clintons, Bill and Hillary (not George), are harder to get rid of than gum on the bottom of the shoe. Sen. Barack Obama, on his way to his christening as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, still has a considerable wa
Obviously, the Clintons, Bill and Hillary (not George), are harder to get rid of than gum on the bottom of the shoe.
Sen. Barack Obama, on his way to his christening as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, still has a considerable wad of Clinton under his shoe, and it looks like he’ll have to carry it all the way through the Democratic National Convention and into the general election.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Obama tallied the most delegates, won the most states and raised the most money. For two months now, he has been the “presumptive” nominee. But Clinton supporters, and at least one of the Clintons, believes we presumed too much.
The Clintons bargained hard and threw their considerable Democratic weight around, and finagled not only prime speaking spots during the convention but also got Obama to agree to allow a roll call vote on Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Her supporters, who have lost none of their ardor despite their candidate’s defeat, will get a chance to cast a vote for Clinton at the convention.
The Clintons argue that such a vote will allow her supporters to have their voices heard. Hillary also said that it will be some sort of “catharsis” (releasing strong or repressed emotions) for her supporters.
Frankly, what has been heard loud and clear since the end of the primary season are the voices of Hillary supporters, vowing never to vote for Obama or worse, to switch their Democratic votes to Republican John McCain.
They have burned up the blogs and overpowered the op-eds on their way to expressing:
1. Hillary was done in by a sexist media.
2. Hillary was done in by the sexist Democratic leadership.
3. Hillary was done in by the media’s infatuation with and kid gloves treatment of Obama.
4. All of the above.
But some Clinton supporters, and perhaps the Clintons themselves, are hoping for a do-over. They are poised to make noise at the Democratic Convention, but it is not clear what they want. Do they want the roll call to declare Clinton the winner? That’s not likely, but if it did, it would rip the Democratic Party asunder because it would seem that the nomination was stolen from the “presumptive” nominee, Obama. His supporters would then have a hard time supporting another nominee. Do they want Clinton on the Obama ticket? That isn’t likely either because it would amount to a co-presidency and would set up four years of controversy and competition within the White House. In effect, the Clintons would accomplish what Rev. Jesse Jackson only whispered about.
It is clear that some Clinton supporters will never vote for Obama. They would rather stay home.
And what does Bill Clinton want? He wants his “legacy” rehabilitated. He wants better relations with Black voters, who sharply rebuked him for his behavior during the primaries. He wants to reclaim the moniker of “first Black president” despite his absence of melanin. It may not happen. He may have gone too far. He still hedges when asked if Obama is qualified to be president. This from a man who spent the last two years of his presidency answering charges of a tryst with a female White House intern.
So now we are on the verge of a convention during which a floor fight is promised, and some of the delegates plan to be quite vocal in their support of someone other than the presumptive nominee.
That is hardly the kind of unity Hillary and Barack talked about in Unity, New Hampshire. It is not the kind of unified party that would strike fear into the Republicans. It is not the type of unity that points to a viable future for the Democratic Party. It is far short of the kind of unity that will be necessary to put a Democrat in the White House after eight horrendous years of George Bush.
This is a telling point for Obama. He is being watched to see if he is presidential timbre. His actions at this convention are the first real test of his leadership. He should not falter here.
Obama needs to man-up and reclaim this convention. It is supposed to be “Obama time” not Clinton redux. He should make sure that his voice is the voice of the Democratic Party, and all those disgruntled Clinton supporters should fall in behind him or they can bet the party will simply just fall behind.
Lou Ransom is executive editor of the Chicago Defender. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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