Guy W. Farmer: The Democratic convention and the Clinton coup

I finally found something that liberal Nevada Appeal columnist Kirk Caraway and I can agree on. As my friend Kirk intimated last Sunday, Team Clinton - Bill, Hillary and many of their most fervent admirers - is doing its level best to sabotage their party's presidential nominee, Barack Obama, at the Democratic National Convention, which begins tomorrow in Denver.

Caraway identified the problem when he wrote about "the diehard Hillary Clinton supporters who just can't admit that the war is over." He also mentioned the Hillary supporters who will do everything in their power to undermine Obama at the convention. These recalcitrant groups have names like "18 Million Voices" (the number of votes Hillary received in the primaries) and the "Hillary Holdouts." I have a message for them: Give it up! The primaries are over and you lost.

In my opinion, Obama played right into the hands of the Hillary holdouts when he agreed to allow them to nominate her on the convention floor and hold a state-by-state roll call vote. Obama accepted the Clinton proposal in the name of "party unity," which won't be the result of that sore-loser ploy. As a certified political junkie, I'm going to enjoy the chaos that ensues when the Clintonistas mount a loud and colorful floor demonstration following Hillary's nomination. This is "unity?" I don't think so.

Some of Hillary's most fervent fans want to relive their 1968 glory days, when dissident Eugene McCarthy supporters spilled into the streets of Chicago, where they were greeted by police dogs (excuse me, canine units) and fire hoses. I can hardly wait for some of those 60-year-old hippies to reprise 1968 in the streets of Denver. What fun! It's great television too; the networks will have a field day. It will be like the Olympic Games, Part II.

And who do you think will be lurking in the background while political chaos erupts in Denver? You guessed it: ex-President Bill Clinton, who just can't bring himself to endorse his wife's hated rival. For the impeached and disbarred former president, it's all about him and his dubious legacy. So much for "party unity."

Again, Kirk Caraway had it just right when he pointed out that a Clinton convention coup "would alienate 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," he wrote. That's true, and it's a main reason the New York senator isn't on a "dream ticket" as the Democrats' vice presidential candidate. Can you imagine the trouble Bill Clinton could get into wandering around in the vice presidential mansion so close to the White House, where he feels he belongs? But the Clintons already stole the presidential silverware. What's left?

"It's hard to believe there are some Democrats so pig-headed that they would endanger (Hillary'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," Caraway concluded. "Give it up already. The war is over." Amen!

The Saddleback Religous Forum

With McCain holding a narrow lead in recent public opinion polls, and given the Arizona senator's strong showing in the so-called "Saddleback Forum" last weekend, a Clinton revolt at the Democratic Convention is the last thing Obama needs. The forum, at mega-Pastor Rick Warren's huge fundamentalist church in Southern California, showed us a carefully nuanced Obama and a decisive McCain on moral and spiritual issues.

When Obama was asked when life begins, the Illinois senator replied that such a complex question was "above my pay grade." But when the pastor asked McCain the same question, the GOP candidate replied, "At the moment of conception." The debate ended right then for millions of evangelistic values voters, reflecting the harsh political reality of the hot-button abortion issue.

In general, Obama handled himself well in an hour-long Q-and-A session with Pastor Warren, who asked the same questions of McCain. My guess is that many of Warren's followers would vote for the celebrity pastor if they could since neither of the candidates fully supports the evangelicals' political agenda. Some Democrats tried to undercut McCain's strong showing by charging that he violated a so-called "cone of silence" while Obama was speaking. McCain didn't need to do that, however, since he came out ahead by being himself and offering clear, unambiguous answers to Warren's questions.

In my opinion, Pastor Warren performed a public service by treating both candidates with civility and respect, two qualities in short supply so far in this seemingly endless presidential election campaign. Although I believe in the separation of church and state in accordance with the First Amendment to the Constitution, I do think candidates should be able to discuss moral and religious issues in a calm, rational way during the campaign. And that's exactly what McCain and Obama did last weekend, thanks to Rick Warren and his mega-church.

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.


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