Kirk Caraway: Breaching the alternate universe of the Hillary Holdouts

As the Democratic National Convention in Denver gets closer, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about the diehard Hillary Clinton supporters who just can't admit that the war is over.

Civil wars are always the most hurtful, and the Democratic primary battle between Barack Obama and Clinton sometimes strayed into that category of conflict. Although Obama and Clinton made up months ago, there is a small number of Hillary Holdouts who keep up the fight.

It's hard to know just how many holdouts there really are. One group is called 18 Million Voices, which tries to advance the idea that all 18 million people who voted for Clinton are somehow in revolt against the party and Obama. Except there is little evidence that anything more than a very tiny portion of those 18 million are holding out hope for a Clinton victory.

Another group of holdouts call themselves the PUMAs, which stands for Party Unity My Ass. This acronym has elicited a number of chuckles from people noting that puma is also the name for cougar, the new slang term for older women who seek out younger men for bedroom adventures. Did these Hillary supporters really want to give people the impression they are a bunch of cougars? It's the funniest political acronym since Richard Nixon and CREEP. In fact, it makes me think this whole thing is some kind of Watergate-style GOP covert action.

The Hillary Holdouts threatened to flood the DNC rules committee meeting at the end of May, saying many buses would be showing up with angry Clintonites demanding their candidate be declared the winner despite losing the delegate race. Only a couple of dozen appeared.

They had a similar result at a conference set up earlier this month by the PUMAs. They planned the event for a five-star Washington hotel, with a special rate for the first 250 attendees. They ended up moving the event to a small motel near the airport when only 60 people signed up.

And the group also created a fundraising campaign to rent a hundred buses to take their supporters to Denver. But it looks like those donations didn't materialize, as they will not be renting even a single bus.

But despite their lack of real numbers, I'm sure we will be hearing breathless details about how they plan to stage a coup at the convention and make Hillary the nominee. After all, there hasn't been a speck of drama at a Democratic convention in 40 years, and those 15,000 reporters have to write about something.

While I think most of these holdouts are either the wacky fringe/Lyndon LaRouche freaks or GOP provocateurs looking to make waves, I know that there are some who are really serious about this effort. They are sincere, if desperately misguided.

But like those Japanese soldiers who hid out in Pacific jungles for years after the end of World War II, someone needs to give these people a big dose of reality.

Even if the Politics Fairy waves her magic wand and Hillary Clinton suddenly becomes the nominee in Denver, she can't win. She would start her battle with John McCain with no money (actually, she's already in debt) and no organization. While she would be busy fundraising and setting up her staff, McCain would be blasting her with both barrels. It would be a rout.

And this doesn't even take into account what a convention coup would do to alienate the Obama backers, particularly black voters. If you think feminists were upset with Hillary's loss, imagine the uproar in the African-American community if Obama were suddenly replaced on the ticket. The cries of racism would not only sink the Clinton campaign, but probably cost a number of Democrats in Congress their seats as well. It would be a Republican dream come true.

The Democratic Party has always been a disparate, unorganized mob with its fair share of whackos. And it's situations like this that bring those divisions out.

But it's hard to believe there are some Democrats so pig-headed that they would endanger their candidate's most cherished issues (women's rights, health care reform, ending the war in Iraq, etc.) by engaging in this dead-end effort that would only serve to make John McCain president.

Give it up already. The war really is over.

- Kirk Caraway of Carson City writes for Swift Communications, Inc. He can be reached through his blog at


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