Democratic Convention 2008

I'm Every Woman, It's All in Me

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Chalk me down as a skeptic of Hillary's Big Speech. It was certainly set up nicely. Anticipation was so high that the line into the security checkpoint devolved into a throng, then splintered into one crowd surging toward the gates and one group got onto busses that appared out of nowhere. Red-clad volunteers explained to us that these were for "anyone who's not press." They had no bullhorns. Can't they borrow one from Alex Jones?

In the hall there were two rumors. The first was that Obama supporters were giving away credentials because they couldn't stand to be in the room with Clinton. I didn't see any evidence of that: Credentials were damn hard to come by. The second was that Clinton supporters with anti-unity or pro-McCain gear weren't allowed in. I didn't see any kicked out, but that was sure true. The only non-unity bleatings I heard were a few boos when Clinton mentioned Joe Biden. But I trace the lack of bleating to Hillary's self-focus and lukewarm endorsement of Obama. She went the Ted Kennedy 1980 route, remembering stock characters from the campaign and tying the whole thing to a greater cause: Camelot for him, women's suffrage for her. This was always a problem vis-a-vis the two candidates (her and Obama) breaking new ground. Clinton's identity politics, as raw as she can make them, appeal to more than half the country. Obama can't do identity politics, as there are only so many black and guiity white liberal voters. Her cause is greater than Obama's cause. It's all a bit diminishing.

That said… maybe the only way Clinton could make the case to her diehards was to grit her teeth and leave the impression that Obama was a fine second choice, not someone she fully supports. That's how they feel. Hell, it's how half of John McCain supporters feel about their guy. The only national political combatant I've seen who convincingly tells his former supporters that the winner was the better man is Mitt Romney, and no one else needs to be like Mitt Romney.

As ever, I have trouble finding true Clinton die-hards. I found Cathy West, an Illinois delegate who wiped away tears and said she hadn't found a true hero in politics since Paul Simon. "I'll vote for her on the first ballot, because that's what I was elected to do," she said. "Then we all move on." She peered over at my computer to see how other media was covering it, and seemed disgruntled at the "divided Dems" stories. Her political button: a picture of the two candidates and the slogan Unite for Change: Obama, Clinton, the Convention.

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