Commentary Magazine


Day One: The Soap Opera

The main evening proceedings at the Democratic Convention are getting underway. But today belonged to the Clintons, or rather their supporters, fans and critics. With thousands of media mavens sitting around with nothing better to do the Hillary supporters had their moment –maybe the first of many– in the sun.

Marc Ambinder captured the Democratic sentiment: “Obama camp (justifiably) frustrated with coverage of HRC / O spat. People who voted for Hillary not necessarily Hillary voters.” If the second sentence is supposed to provide comfort, it shouldn’t. Remember the Obamaphiles touting the 35 million votes — the Democrats who turned out in primaries and caucuses – they had in the bag? Well, it turns out that those who voted for Hillary, whatever you call them, aren’t the safe votes Obama was counting on collecting.

All of this can change and by week’s end everyone may go home whistling a happy tune of unity. But the disappointed Hillary voters (0r more precisely the people who happened to vote for Hillary but can’t abide by Obama) have gotten a lot of attention. The reinforcing effect of meeting with each other and hearing their stories replayed in the media will be hard to set aside. As Don Fowler, former DNC chief put it (h/t Weekly Standard):

“I have a lot of doubts that this convention is going to be as persuasive as it should be because they’ve got this damn thing with Hillary … I love Hillary. I was for her. But this is the worst political decision I could imagine. This is supposed to be an Obama celebration. You’re going to get the nomination of someone who came very close to winning and you’re going to get a lot of people in there cheering and hollering and some people booing.”

Was there a way to avoid this? Hillary as VP of course. But, barring a palace coup, it is too late for that. And the obvious conclusion: Obama badly mishandled his most important negotiation. The chickens are now coming home to roost.