Feature

Healing the Clinton wounds

Will a symbolic convention showdown bring Democrats together?

What happened
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton reached an agreement to place Clinton’s name in nomination at the Democratic convention, setting up a symbolic roll-call vote aiming to soothe Clinton supporters still angry about her primary loss. A Pew poll found that only 77 percent of Clinton supporters now back Obama; John McCain has the support of 88 percent of his former Republican rivals' backers. (The Wall Street Journal)

What the commentators said
What a “savvy piece of political strategy,” said Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post’s The Fix blog. Democrats have “tremendous atmospheric advantages” heading into the November election, but “disunity” in the ranks could sink them. Submitting Clinton’s name for a roll-call vote is “a powerful olive branch.”

This might prevent “all-out war,“ said The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, but it’s unlikely to “make many annoyed Hillary supporters much happier.” And voters who have come to expect conventions to be “fawning coronations” will surely see Obama’s submission as a sign of weakness, which will make McCain the real winner of the Democrats’ roll-call vote.

Don’t read too much into this deal, said John Nichols in The Nation’s The Beat blog. The roll-call vote will be “good theater,” but little more. It will let “Clinton diehards” make a statement about the historic nature of her candidacy, but the vote will merely add “a little dramatic tension at an otherwise over-managed convention.”

“Have you seen no monster movies?”  asked Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online. The Clintons, like creatures in horror flicks that have been hacked up, always seem to come back. They have relentlessly belittled Obama through the primaries and since, and handing them the floor at the convention just gives them fresh opportunities to “plunge the knife into his back.”

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