by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
August 28, 2008
KEEPING VERMONT VERMONT
AT THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, DENVER, Aug. 27, 2008 -- American Reporter Correspondent Ted Manna and Editor-in-Chief Joe Shea watched the Hillary Clinton speech at the Democratic Convention here with different perceptions Tuesday night.
They thought a dialogue might be in order.
Ted: I saw the steel in the Hillary Clinton magnolia tonight.
I saw the same fire in her eyes that flared up at the end of the grueling primary season. I saw the fight that would have taken her to a Thursday night date with destiny (when the nominee gives his acceptance speech), instead of a Tuesday love fest.
And when she opened her remarks with what she was most proud of, supporting Barack Obama came in a distant fourth.
Joe: I saw the steel, too, and it looked to me a little more like some residual anger. I think the listing of her commitments was a rhetorical flourish and nothing more.
There wasn't really much chance of a floor fight. That's not what the big mainstream parties do anymore, and haven't since the Reagan-Ford days.
What captured my attention was the grim looks and occasional tears or the steely determination on the faces of some of her supporters who simply didn't want Obama to get the nomination, or wanted Hillary to get it much, much more. They are key players tonight and tomorrow.
Ted: I saw that too, and while this speech was supposed to be a blockbuster, I don't think it solved the unity problem. I believe that while the party will do all it can to project a unified front, even going to the extent of forcing delegations to choose in their respective hotels instead of on the convention floor, the McCain machine will capitalize on the rift.
Joe: I think the rift is mostly in the imagination of the media. When the press needs a story and has little to base one on, they simply take a handful of complaints and magnify them to issue status. No matter how much some of her supporters like Hillary and dislike Obama, if they even do, they don't want John McCain in the White House under any circumstances. And for those with too many fears, there's Sen. Joe Biden to calm them down once the post-Labor Day campaigning begins.
Ted: This is the same Joe Biden who said how heartening it was to have an articulate black man running for president? Boring choice, even if he is dependable and able. McCain's pick will be more spectacular and the Republicans are now the more unified party. They also seem to have a more savvy organization, getting free press time with some of those attack ads while the Democrats continue to waffle.
Joe: Yeah, but as John King said on CNN after the speech, those ads run mostly on the news because the McCain campaign doesn't make any major-market buys for them. They run them overnight in $5-dollar-a-minute mini-markets like Oshkosh, Wis., or San Pedro, Calif., and that gives Fox News a basis for running them for free.
As for Biden being a boring choice, I sure haven't seen any of the major mouths say that. He's known for his verbal gaffes and quirky, intelligent, oddball statements, which I love but are great grist for the media mill.
But the Republicans are being very smart. They're not on vacation during the Democratic convention as they might have been in the past, and that's going to inhibit the bounce Obama gets from the convention. Where John Kerry got a 20-point bounce from Boston, Obama will be lucky to get five points in a fair poll.
Ted: The big question is: Will she really work for him? And will it really matter? Is the damage too great? American people want to vote for someone who knows power, and if the perception is that Obama cannot even win his whole party, people will turn to someone like McCain who at least looks like he can control events.
Joe: Perceptions are everything. But political machines are pretty highly structured, and as you suggest, it may not matter that much when the ground teams are out there knocking down the numbers. But this has certainly been an interesting news cycle, and the Republican convention will be hard-pressed to match it.
Ted: I thought Hillary transcended the machine. If not for a few twists of fate, she would be the nominee and I don't care what time of the day it is, I would like to see Hillary in Putin's face, not Obama.
The woman was betrayed by a philandering husband, criticized loudly by another unfaithful candidate who had the gall to think he could be President with a love child in the closet; and then disappointed by decisions in the Michigan and Florida delegate count which would have given her the nomination.
When she coined the Democratic battle cry, "No way, no how, no McCain," she was hoisting the Democratic banner with her own strength and purpose, no matter the present candidate.
American Reporter Correspondent Ted Manna is based near Denver, where he has covered convention activities and the presidential primary campaign for the past year. Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter and is in Denver for his fourth convention.