Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have announced that they will work together for party unity. After a bitter campaign, and a perceived mistreatment of Clinton by the media and the Democratic Party in general, Clinton supporters are less than thrilled to be faced with the option of candidate Obama. Some are taking their frustration and turning into activity, working at a grass roots level to work against the expected nominee for the Democratic candidacy.
Diane Mantouvalos is an anger-shaker. The night before Clinton announced the suspension of her campaign, Mantouvalos was at home in Miami checking posts on her blog and sensing a mood that went beyond disillusionment, beyond sadness, beyond "I'm upset and bummed out." As co-creator of Hireheels.com, which describes itself as "a forum of power chics for Hillary," Mantouvalos hangs out on the sassy edge of the blogosphere. Feeling more empowered than embittered, the public relations consultant wondered: "Wouldn't it be great if we could thread all of these disparate factions and form one coalition?" A brassy coalition of rebels.While polls would suggest that most of Clinton's supporters, including a large majority of her women supporters, have now thrown their support behind Obama, perhaps doing a little more digging is in order to find the full story on how many women are displeased to be left with the prospect of Obama as the party nominee.
On June 8, the evening after Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential contest to Barack Obama, Mantouvalos organized a conference call with some 40 bloggers, political activists and other hardened loyalists of the New York senator's, in what became "a jam session of very intense opinion" -- about the party, its leadership, its presumptive nominee, the media. Five hours later, Mantouvalos, age "north of 35," had built a new Web site, JustSayNoDeal.com, which has become a clearinghouse for the renegade forces that are now confounding Democratic Party officials and Obama campaign operatives.
Another of the "rebels" who are going on the attack against Obama from the Clinton supporters is Darragh Murphy, founder of P.U.M.A, an acronym for People United Means Action. Murphy, in an interview with NECN.com, outlines her reasons for founding P.U.M.A. Receiving a whopping 35,000 hits in the first few hours of the site's existence, Murphy explains in the interview, "The immediate, ultimate goal, is to let the party/leadership know that millions and millions of us are not going to support the candidate. That we believe the nomination process was flawed beyond belief -- that it was unfair and biased."
With the loss of delegates from Michigan and Florida and that Clinton held a larger number of popular votes than Obama, it isn't hard to see why so many female Clinton supporters are up in arms against the party.
Things aren't going so well behind the scenes for funders of Clinton and Obama, either, now that the two camps have intermingled for the sake of party unity. Insiders report that there are hard feelings between the two thrust together factions; there is animosity, and yes, one of Obama's favorite emotions to bring up, bitterness.
I know this is supposed to be a marriage, but behind the scenes, it feels more like a divorce.No uncomfortable public event could be complete without the inevitable loss for words, given at this event by Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe, who, with a pregnant pause, announced Clinton as "the next...speaker!" Some speculate that he was struggling not to use the word "president."
There's a lot of sadness and hurt between the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton camps, with both sides fighting over money and loyalty.
Before the unity fest to began here in Unity, N.H., I was on the phone with some top Clinton supporters who attended a big gathering of major donors in Washington, D.C. last night. It was hosted by Clinton's team, and to many in attendance, it didn't feel like a reunion. It felt like the arrival of a repo man.
"Hillary was sad, even pitiful I have to say," said one of her top donors.
"It was like, this guy is coming to take my family away."
What does all of this spell for the Obama campaign at this point? The Travis Tritt song, "I Smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E" comes to mind. Obama is now dealing with a combined campaign involving members that he knows, or should know, if arrogance has not taken control of him at this point for being the presumptive nominee at this level of (in)experience in the arena of national politics, were not supportive of him but rather of Senator Clinton and are working for his campaign now for the sake of party unity, a disenfranchisement of his "rock star" status by members of the media, who have stopped portraying him as the Second Coming, and a growing number of angry women voters who are fighting against him, could things be going more wrong at this critical point in his bid for President?
Wellll, yes, actually, they could. In an op-ed for McClatchy's Washinton Bureau, Margaret Talev poses the question "Is Obama turning out to be just another politician?"
He abandoned public campaign financing after years of championing it. Backed a compromise on wiretap legislation that gives telecom companies retroactive immunity for helping the government conduct spying without warrants. Dumped his controversial pastor of two decades — then his church — after saying he could no more abandon the pastor than abandon his own grandmother.And as we have seen earlier this week, he has given a continual snub to the American Muslim community backpedaled on the Second Amendment, and given the go ahead for a new television network consisting of nothing but reality shows. Um, strike that last one. The point is, Obama, now the front runner for the Democrats, is in a key position to make positive, real changes, rather than the numerous and tremendous flubs and fumbles he seems to be making as his campaign enters the last, and most difficult, leg of the election cycle.
He said he wouldn't wear the U.S. flag pin because it had become a substitute for true patriotism, then started wearing it. Ramped up his courtship of unions. Shifted from a pledge to protect working-class families from tax increases to a far more expensive promise not to raise taxes on families that earn up to $250,000 a year. Turned to longtime D.C. Democratic wise men to run his vice-presidential search and staff his foreign-policy brain trust.
Presidential candidates often tack toward the center after securing their party's nominations. But all this tactical repositioning by Obama suggests that he's a more complex, pragmatic and arguably more opportunistic politician than the fresh face of "change we can believe in" that he presented during the primary season.
No wonder John McCain prefers to be the underdog. He isn't having to deal with the fury of a woman scorned, multiplied exponentially across the country.
I'm just glad it ain't me for a change...
Once and Always, an American Fighting Man