The ‘Safe’ Convention

Denver Post; by David Harsanyi; August 26, 2008

DENVER — For those of you who believe that the Hillary Clinton Uprising is a fairy tale concocted by a press in search of convention controversy, think again.

Hillary Clinton’s seductive charms lie heavy on the Mile High City. Defiant supporters can be seen citywide sporting Hillary pins and T-shirts, in direct defiance of unity.

Nearly every event in Denver includes some unruly joker who injects her name into a perfectly pleasant discussion. Why didn’t Barack Obama pick Hillary as his running mate? Why hasn’t she campaigned harder for Obama? Will her supporters defect to John McCain?

So dreaded is the thought of disunity, it has been reported, that teams will be dispatched to quell any unauthorized outbreaks of irrational exuberance from Clinton supporters.

Apparently, Hillary loyalist and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell missed the memo when he accused the media of having irrational exuberance for Obama during the primaries. “Ladies and gentlemen, the coverage of Barack Obama was embarrassing. It was embarrassing.”

One senior Obama supporter, according to Politico, claimed the Clinton associates act like “Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over.” And every good Democrat knows that war is never the answer.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that only half of Clinton’s primary supporters say they “definitely” will vote for Obama. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll put the number at 52 percent. More alarmingly for Obama is the 30 percent of those polled who claim they will vote for McCain, someone else or just stay home.

Those are significant numbers. The McCain camp has picked up this theme, running a television ad featuring Hillary’s own primary attacks against Obama. Another ad introduces us to a cute and cheery former Hillary supporter who tells Democrats it’s OK to defect.

One of the first press releases of Monday morning alerted convention goers to the “Happy Hour for Hillary,” an event hosted by the Republican National Committee where GOPers, “independents” and “open-minded Democrats” can come together to cheer on “the most qualified candidate to lead our country as Commander in Chief.”

One wonders whether any of these distraught Happy Hour revelers could coherently point out the policy differences between the two. If not, it must be the experience, right? The personality?

Vice presidential nominee Joe Biden is imbued with both. He’s definitely got a personality, and he’s been plying his trade on the Senate floor forever.

Then again, wasn’t it Obama who claimed that judgment, rather than experience, is the key to astute leadership? What then does Biden bring to the ticket that Clinton doesn’t? Mickey Kaus of Slate magazine posited, Biden “doesn’t have gravitas. He has seniority.”

And there is a noteworthy difference between Biden and Clinton: The loquacious Biden entertained the press corps for a handful of primary debates before dropping out; Hillary persuaded 18 million primary voters to support her.

So then why not Clinton? If you erode your theme of “change” by choosing a longtime Washington insider, why not pick the one who can unite your party?

Perhaps a clue can be found in the words of Nancy Pelosi, who said Democrats need to “begin anew.” At a convention that will feature Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, John Kerry, Joe Biden and maybe Ted Kennedy (in order of most annoying), who can argue?

It’s true that Biden is the “safe” pick. And for those who’ve dug deeper into Obama’s political career, you already know the junior senator from Illinois always makes the safe pick.

The one thing that is certain, though, is that picking Biden over Clinton helps one candidate. And that candidate is not here in Denver.

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