. . . or maybe it’s the way Obama treated the Clintons which prevents him from rising.
As the Democrats gather in Denver, their presumptive nominee has missed the chance to turn the quadrennial partisan shindig into an event focused on his election. Â Instead he has let it become a forum showcasing his party’s divisions, largely because he failed to find an an appropriate means to handle his most tenacious rival from the primary contest and her husband, the only Democrat reelected president since World War II.
When a party controls the White House and the incumbent is not up for reelection, it cedes the first night of the convention (which would be tonight for the Democrats) to that incumbent. The Democrats should have done the same thing with their party’s most recent Chief Executive. And since his wife did so well in the primary contest, they could make the night about them, call it a “Tribute to the Clintons.”
To show how much Obama respects his predecessor (as party nominee) and his one-time rival, he would have his own wife serve as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
After tonight, the convention would then be all about him. But, instead of concentrating the Clintons one one night, the Democrats are spreading them over three, creating anxiety within his camp:
Many supporters of Mr Obama express private anguish over the prominent role he has conceded to the former president and first lady on three out of the four days of the convention this week.
Hillary speaks Tuesday night, Bill Wednesday.
Maybe Obama could have avoided this had he treated the former First Lady better (via Instapundit) as he went about selecting his Vice-Presidential nominee, perhaps making the motions of considering her–or at least consulting her (and her husband) about whom he could consider.
You don’t dismiss the candidate who came within a whisker of defeating you for your party’s nod, especially when her husband is the most successful politician in your party since FDR.
It’s not just his own arrogance which is sidelining the presumptive Democratic nominee, it’s also the Clintons’ egos.
And then there’s the issue of placing Hillary’s name in nomination Wednesday night. While she contends she has “an obligation to the people who sent them” to Denver, she could show some class and say such a vote might rain on the parade of her party’s nominee.
This may upset her supporters, but would serve her well for ’12 should (as now appears increasingly likely) Obama lose this fall. She doesn’t want it to appear she was responsible for division which ensured his defeat. Her intransigence this week could only serve to harden the opposition of those Democrats who already dislike and/or distrust her to her second bid for their party’s nomination.
Maybe let the roll-call vote proceed to please her diehard supporters, but at least have her instruct her remaining delegates to vote for Obama. But, she’s refusing to do even that!
That said, George Stephanopoulos reports that there is some hope for her party as “speculation swirls in Denver that Clinton advisors may be willing to accept no roll-call vote, fearing the blame of disrupting the party’s efforts at unity” (h/t Mitchell Blatt via e-mail).
If Hillary wants her party’s rank-and-file to take her seriously for ’12, she can’t be seen a spoilsport who is not doing what she can to rally her supporters behind the man who bested her in the contest for the Democratic nomination. There are so many signs that her partisans are cool towards (or outright opposed to) their party’s nominee:
- Clinton Advisors Skipping Obama’s Acceptance Speech
- Tensions Linger as Some Clinton Supporters Are Left Frustrated
- Die-hard Clinton supporters to air grievances outside convention
- Clinton voters buck Obama’s bid
No wonder the Republican National Committee (RNC) is running ads targeting the Clinton-Obama rift. By the time of this convention, the presumptive Democratic nominee should have united his party behind him.
It’s clear he has failed to do so primarily because of way he treated his chief rival for the party’s nomination. To be sure, she is not an easy woman to handle. She’s made things more difficult for him than a more gracious loser might. But, he’s the nominee. And he should have faced the challenge posed by the tenacious wife of a former president.
His failure as the presumptive Democratic nominee to diffuse this intra-partisan squabble doesn’t bode well for his ability as President of the United States to handle international crises.
UPDATE: Byron York reports one means of handling the roll-call vote which could make Hillary look good:
One scenario being kicked around would have the roll call continue until it reaches New York. At that point, the leader of the delegation ”some speculate it could be Hillary Clinton herself” would move that the vote be dispensed with and that Obama be declared the nominee by acclamation. If Clinton does it herself, it would be viewed as a big gesture, and undo a little of the damage.
UP-UPDATE: Many Clinton backers reluctant to switch.