Obama and Clinton Make Peace: Can the Hillraisers Handle It?
No one actually came out waving a piece of paper in the air declaring that the Obama and Clinton camps had reached an accord that eliminated all traces of rancor and bitterness between the two sides.
But the deal struck, giving Hillary the chance to have her name placed in nomination and her supporters cast their ballot for her historic candidacy, should go a long way toward assuaging the hurt feelings felt by many Clinton delegates who might otherwise not be disposed to put on a happy face for the cameras during the convention.
"Hillraisers," they call themselves. And for the last few weeks, many of them were making noises that worried the Obama convention planners. Talk of angry marches in Denver protesting what the Clintonites saw as irregularities in the primaries and calls to recognize gender bias in the media were threatening to derail the carefully scripted outline that the Obama camp was trying to get the media to follow: that the party is unified behind Barack Obama and is enthusiastic about his candidacy.
Indeed, nothing is set in concrete. Still to be worked out is the extremely delicate matters of how Clinton's name is to be advanced, whether there are going to be seconding speeches, and just how the roll call of the states is to be handled. Obama is not worried about Hillary double-crossing him with an attempt to stampede the delegates and steal the nomination from him. But time is extraordinary precious given the reluctance of the broadcast networks to go over their allotted coverage into the local newshour. Angering TV news executives is not in the nominee's playbook.
Actually, the roll call has always been my favorite part of the conventions and I'm glad to see Obama is going to continue the tradition. However, I don't expect the Obama people to be as lax as they used to be back in the day when TV networks didn't mind going over their allotted time because there was nothing else to watch. Discipline and scripting will be the order of the evening. This is a shame because TV used to love the roll call -- so uniquely, maddeningly American, with its spontaneous expressions of state pride coming from colorful people dressed in colorful outfits and usually wearing a hat they wouldn't be caught dead in outside the convention hall.
As each state was called, a party stalwart --usually the state chairman or popular elected official-- got their moment in the sun and, more often than not, rattled off a list of achievements or fact flakes for which the residents took pride. There was a lot of one-upmanship as each succeeding state felt it necessary to top the previous one in "the biggest" this or "the best" that until the nominee crossed the threshold of victory and the demonstrations would begin.
I hate to say it but compared to that, today's conventions are soulless affairs. No spontaneity and no funny hats.
Nevertheless, it is not clear as yet what the sequence of events will be that allows all of this to happen for the Hillraisers. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, who broke the story about the Clinton-Obama accord, speculates based on his sources that "[ì]t is possible that Sen. Clinton, having had her name submitted, would use the occasion to release her delegates to Obama; depending on how the roll call is staged, Clinton’s released delegates could put Obama over the top."
Again the olive branch falls short, her name in nomination is called “symbolic”, still short of truly recognizing her campaign or her supporters. And what will her backers have to say? They are going to make some “noise” in Denver.
What kind of trouble can they make for Obama?