Happy days are here again!

The Obama and Clinton campaigns come together to prove Maureen Dowd wrong.


Joan Walsh
August 15, 2008 2:40PM (UTC)

I'm always happy when events conspire to prove that a nasty Maureen Dowd column was fantasy as quickly as possible. It only took a day to disprove her fanciful depiction of Hillary Clinton trying to topple Obama in Denver, "Yes, She Can." The Clinton and Obama campaigns announced jointly that her name will be put into nomination Wednesday, Aug. 27, in Denver, and there will be a roll call vote. The two teams are still working out the mechanics, a Clinton aide said, but it looks like each state will announce its tally for both candidates.

"I am convinced that honoring Senator Clinton's historic campaign in this way will help us celebrate this defining moment in our history and bring the party together in a strong united fashion," Obama said in the campaign statement.

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Only yesterday, it seemed like that might not happen. There was Dowd's vicious column, of course, plus continued coverage of Josh Green's Atlantic story about Clinton campaign infighting. Maybe worst of all was Howard Wolfson's unsupported claim Monday that Clinton would have won the nomination if John Edwards had done the right thing and left the race before Iowa (a claim that seems demonstrably false, given that Clinton wasn't the second choice of Edwards voters polled in Iowa. I was there, and I have no doubt Obama would have won even more overwhelmingly without Edwards' challenge in the caucus). Wolfson's remarks were widely seen as another example of sore loserism from the Clinton camp, even though he was only speaking for himself.

Then came the news that former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner had been tapped as the Tuesday night keynote speaker, even though Tuesday, the 88th anniversary of women's suffrage, was to have been "Clinton's night." I heard from angry Clinton supporters on Wednesday, but negotiations between the Clinton and Obama teams continued without incident. Some Clinton folks were surprised by the Warner keynote announcement, but she had never been designated the "keynote" in the first place -- the tag usually goes to a political up-and-comer -- and she will still anchor the coveted prime-time television slot.

All the static could well have derailed the negotiations around putting Clinton's name into nomination, but it didn't, and both candidates' camps are to be thanked for their perseverance and forbearance. Obama looks great: magnanimous, a strong leader, a mensch, a guy who wants to win in November; a president. Clinton gets affirmation, and her die-hard supporters get a moment in Denver to savor her historic accomplishment -- and then board the unity train for the fall.

Will they? Most of them already have, more of them will thanks to this news; a few may never get on board. But increasingly Clinton loyalists will have realized that they're hurting their hero if they continue to attack Obama. Even after she'd hit the campaign trail for him, braving 115 degree August heat in Henderson, Nev., the haters were accusing her of sabotaging Obama and planning her comeback in 2012. I agree with my friend Joe Conason's wise column today, though I'd argue that Clinton's smartest campaign advisors are telling her exactly the same thing he is; the divisive talk is coming from former staffers, outsiders, and of course Maureen Dowd. There has never been a shred of evidence that Clinton supports the more divisive efforts on her behalf. I personally wish she hadn't called for "catharsis" for her supporters in Denver, in that notorious YouTube video from a couple of weeks ago, but most everything else she said there was just fine.

And, as it turns out, Obama agreed with her. My sources say the Obama campaign was enthusiastic about the idea of putting Clinton's name in nomination, having independently reached the conclusion that it was the best way to honor her achievement and do more to win over her supporters. "The conversations with her folks were very cordial and we've been able to work very closely with them as we unify this party," Obama spokesman Bill Burton told me in an email. "We couldn't be happier about how things are going with Senator Clinton and her team." If only someone had told Maureen Dowd.

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Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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2008 Elections

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