If Democrats hoped for a Mile High Unityfest, they will find themselves bitterly disappointed — as bitter and disappointed as Bill and Hillary Clinton. Politico reports from the scene that Bill has complained about the role assigned to him on Wednesday night, and Hillary remains offended by Obama’s freeze-out on the VP nomination. Obama and senior DNC officials have had just about all they can take from the Clintons as well, as Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report from the Pepsi Center:
One flashpoint is the assigned speech topic for former president Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, when the convention theme is “Securing America’s Future.” The night’s speakers will argue that Obama would be a more effective commander in chief than his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
The former president is disappointed, associates said, because he is eager to speak about the economy and more broadly about Democratic ideas — emphasizing the contrast between the Bush years and his own record in the 1990s.
This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms.
Small wonder Obama didn’t want Hillary on the ticket. The combination of the three egos would have eventually proven toxic. However, LBJ’s point about the direction of urination regarding the tent may have been instructive, had Obama cared to consider it, and this may be the latest example.
Team Obama hasn’t exactly helped the situation, either. Allen reports that some of his team have compared the Clintons to Japanese soldiers on bypassed Pacific islands after Hirohito surrendered, not accepting that the war is over. They complain, apparently to anyone who’ll listen, that the Clintons have forced Obama to do all the work in repairing the breach in the Democratic party, which seems laughable on its face. Why not call Hillary just to get her advice on his VP pick? Even if one wanted to ignore the obvious healing quality of a 15-minute conversation on this topic, one can presume that she would have given him better advice than Pick Joe Biden.
Now Bill has to give a speech outlining Barack Obama’s resumé on foreign policy and national security, which under normal circumstances would qualify as the shortest speech at a major political convention; it might not outlast his introduction. That’s a big, big mistake, because few people can talk as effectively about middle America’s economic concerns as Bill Clinton. Why saddle Bill with a task that would be better suited to Bill Richardson or anyone else? Maybe Obama thinks that Bill throws the best bull in the party, but Obama isn’t going to win this race on foreign policy; his only chance is to win it on the economy, and he’s misusing his greatest asset.
Maybe the frustration the Clintons feel comes from the fact that they actually lost to this candidate.