Is anyone checking to see what's up Hillary's sleeves?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why do I think Hillary Clinton -- aided and abetted by her husband -- has a plot in mind for the Democratic National Convention next week in Denver?

Could it be because of the Clintons' record of saying one thing and doing another that made the eight years of Bill and Hillary in the White House so interesting?

Could it be because Hillary wants the presidential nomination so badly she's willing to try anything and everything until the last roll-call vote is cast?

I am in no way making a prediction. Goodness knows there have been enough of those since this campaign began -- what, six years ago? I just did a quick online review of what political pundits were saying in 2006 and 2007 about who would win the Democratic and Republican nominations and, yes, who would be moving to the White House next year.

If you think the campaign lasts way too long, so does the glut of guessing by those who watch presidential campaigns instead of participating in them.

As of last week, a plan -- called a move toward Democratic unity -- was in place to nominate Hillary Clinton along with Barack Obama at the Denver get-together. What we're being told is that Clinton's supporters have not, for the most part, become Obama supporters and want Clinton to have her moment in the sun.

And we're being told that Obama is going along because allowing Clinton to be nominated only to lose in the roll call is better than not allowing her to be nominated and taking the heat throughout the convention from her supporters.

This is unity?

The math says Obama's nomination is safe. It takes 2,026 delegates and superdelegates to get the nomination. He has more than that right now. But there are estimates that Clinton still has 1,886 delegates and superdelegates likely to vote for her during the roll call. How far-fetched is it to think that Clinton operatives -- the former president in particular -- will be pressuring 140 others, many of them former Clinton supporters, to give Hillary the trophy she has worked and fought for?

What we have coming next week, it seems, is a scheduled opportunity for Clinton's supporters to go wild during the nominating speeches and roll call. In the process they will rekindle all the fervor they've had for months or years.

And there would appear to be certain political conditions under which switching to Clinton from Obama would make sense.

Look at the polls. Many delegates, including some Obama supporters, are still wondering who can beat John McCain in November. Obama's effort to shore up his credentials on statesmanship and foreign policy haven't nudged him very far in the polls. Clinton, on the other hand, has not said much since Obama appeared to have the nomination clinched.

If Obama's poll numbers sink in the next few days, what Democratic delegate wouldn't be tempted to go with a candidate who could unravel the entire McCain campaign strategy?

If Clinton doesn't pull off a coup, the Democrats will leave Denver divided between unhappy Clinton supporters and Obama supporters wondering if the party's unity can ever become reality.

What the Democrats are doing by nominating both Clinton and Obama for the sake of keeping the party together seems to have no precedent. Since when do we give losers a chance -- even an outside chance -- to score, perhaps enough to win?

R. Joe Sullivan is the editorial-page editor of the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: