It’s silly-time at the Democratic Convention in Denver. That’s largely what political conventions are all about, but as the nation sinks further into chaos, silliness seems just a bit more—silly.
(Washington Post Many Clinton Supporters Say Speech Didn't Heal Divisions DENVER, Aug. 26) Hillary Rodham Clinton's most loyal delegates came to the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night looking for direction. They listened, rapt, to a 20-minute speech that many proclaimed the best she had ever delivered, hoping her words could somehow unwind a year of tension in the Democratic Party. But when Clinton stepped off the stage and the standing ovation faded into silence, many of her supporters were left with a sobering realization: Even a tremendous speech couldn't erase their frustrations.
Rapt, were they? Still frustrated, are they?
It might possibly be that they have misunderstood what politics, political conventions and the democratic process is all about. They may have thought a woman in the presidency was more important than doing the more difficult work of re-dedicating the nation to its Constitution.
There was Jerry Straughan, a professor from California, who listened from his seat in the rafters and shook his head at what he considered the speech's predictability. "It's a tactic," he said. "Who knows what she really thinks? With all the missteps that have taken place, this is the only thing she could do. So, yes, I'm still bitter."
Bitter about what, Jerry?
Bitter about a catastrophic, unending and unfunded war; possibly about Guantanamo or abu Ghraib? Does your bitterness stop at Hillary losing out in a nationally contended primary campaign, or is there enough left over for torture, the retirement of dissenting generals and flag officers, kangaroo courts, waterboarding and the relentlessness of civilian spying?
Possibly, tactics are what will save the republic.
There was JoAnn Enos, from Minnesota, who digested Clinton's resounding endorsement of Barack Obama and decided that she, too, will move on and get behind him. "I'll vote for [Obama] in the roll call," she said, "because that's what Hillary wants."
What Hillary wants. That’s your criteria, JoAnn? What Hillary wants has displaced in your mind the need to revive by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation an entire country? Mouth to mouth, e-mail to e-mail, door to door, friend to friend and living room to living room, America’s abandonment of the Geneva Convention needs to be spoken of. George Bush’s replacement of military and civil police by Blackwater thugs ought to register as prioritized criteria, along with extraordinary rendition.
Whether or not it’s what Hillary wants, you might ask over a small Obama fund-raiser in your backyard, if tax relief to the wealthy really makes sense while sticking the nation with a $10 trillion debt. Is the Bush push to privatization of essential government services important? Does the abandonment by presidential decree of environmental laws strike a chord? Does illegal legislation by agency appointment and the equally illegal and excessive use of signing statements come into play?
Or is it all about Hillary?
"She hit it right out of the ballpark," said Terie Norelli, New Hampshire's House speaker. "I've never been prouder of a Democrat than I was tonight." Norelli said the speech made her want to work hard for Obama. "She said it better than I ever could have: Everything I worked for and that she worked for would be at risk if we do anything less."
Agreed, Terie. It was a remarkable speech. But as seems to be the mission of the Clintons, she did her share of damage, dangling her name and intentions until way past the last moment, building personal drama at the cost of unity.
For his part, Bill just can’t get over a world-class case of petulancy. We have forgiven you Bill, for dragging your wife and the presidency through the embarrassment of stains on dresses. Can’t you, for God’s sake, forgive us our choice of someone other than Hillary for president?
Go find Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandella. Sit down and have a cup of decaf. Perhaps the strongest voice and the most articulate campaigner in the Democratic party, you have so damaged Barack Obama that you can’t even redeem your singular credentials by campaigning for him. Shame on you.
But Clinton's performance fell far short of the panacea the Democratic Party had desperately hoped for, delegates said. Some worried that, after Clinton's public withdrawal, more voters might defect for Republican John McCain or simply stay home.
"I'm not going to vote for Obama. I'm not going to vote for McCain, either," said Blanche Darley, 65, a Texas delegate for Clinton. Darley wore a button saying "Obamination Scares the Hell Out of Me."
"We love her, but it's our vote if we don't trust him or don't like him," said Darley, who was a superdelegate for Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Well Blanche, it certainly is your vote. But it’s your country as well and it has never been in more trouble. Your distrust of Barack Obama (however you define that) apparently trumps your distrust of a politicized Justice Department, overrides Bush’s and McCain’s extortion of state and city police departments and gives you faith that fencing in our once free and open country under the guise of terrorist threat is a good idea.
Not liking him allows the enactment of a disastrous and unconstitutional Preemptive War Doctrine, answerable solely to the president. Did you even know that, Blanche? Or were you blinded by the yellow pants suits and the hope of a woman president? Voting down unprecedented secrecy in government is a more important cut of cloth. Privatizing (for profit) huge portions of the nation’s military is the true Obamination.
Just what is it that frightens you about Barack?
Weeping, Dawn Yingling, a 44-year-old single mother from Indianapolis, said that the speech was "fabulous" but that she still isn't going to work for the Obama campaign. "She was fabulous, nothing less than I expected. It's hard to sit here and think about she would have accomplished. We're not stupid -- we're not going to vote for John McCain," she said. But she'll limit her campaigning to a House candidate. "It will take a Congress as well as a president. That's what I can do and be true to who I am."
True to who you are?
C’mon Dawn, wipe your eyes, put aside your petty grievances and think for once in your life about something that transcends who you are. Does who you are, celebrate the waste, theft and failure to account for hundreds of billions in ‘war’ spending? Do you stand proudly for abandonment of foreign policy in favor of unilateral decisions that re-ignite the useless, wasteful and disproven strategies of cold war? The replacement of America’s tradition of political argument, with sloganeering and demagoguery, is part of why Hillary lost in flashes of anger and hubris.
It seemed a particularly resonant moment Tuesday night, which marked both Women's Equality Day and the 88th anniversary of women's suffrage.
Listen up. It’s not about women.
This election and the next several to come are about saving the nation from self-destruction. If the women of the Democratic Party can’t get that through their emotionally charged adoration of Hillary, they will have contributed to the loss. They ought to go out and buy a woman's book, The End of America by Naomi Wolf and learn something about what they have at stake. Then get busy and save it.
When asked what kind of nation the founders had given us, Benjamin Franklin famously said,
“a republic, if you can keep it.”
That question was asked of Franklin by a woman.