When I first heard about the Unity, New Hampshire appearance of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to promote — what else, Democratic party unity — all I could think of was George’s father on Seinfeld yelling, “SERENITY NOW!!”
You may be wondering, ‘Is PunditMom out to lunch?’ Well, that IS always possible, but hear me out.
George’s father was trying so hard to talk himself into a state of serenity, that in order to achieve it, he had to yell it at the top of his lungs. Repeatedly.
So when I started noticing some similarities with the whole push for Democratic party unity — Unity NOW! — I had to wonder whether Obama and Clinton are also working just a teensy bit too hard at it. Did we REALLY need the stage backdrop to say “U N I T Y” in larger than life letters and a massive American flag? If voters don’t want to have unity, no amount of stagecraft in Unity, N.H. is going to help.
As Obama and Clinton stood in front of the crowd of thousands, looking so cute in their color-coordinated outfits, I thought they spoke powerfully and eloquently about why the Democratic party needs to move forward, invoking all the right phrases, ideas and soundbites about the future, the need to create an unstoppable force and their two historic attempts at the Presidency.
For all the iconic images, there’s still a long way to go. According to an account by Jill Zuckman at The Swamp, two prominent New Hampshire politicians not only missed the Unity event, but are also refusing to jump on the new unity bandwagon:
While Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are trying to rally Democrats in Unity, N.H. …, James McConaha, a former Clinton administration official, and his wife, Valery Mitchell, a Democratic activist, are working to gather support for the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain.
‘I think in general both of us felt that this is such an important position, perhaps the most important job in the world that it requires a person who has the experience and the competence to hold it,’ McConaha told my friend, Kevin Landrigan with the Nashua Telegraph. ‘We just liked Senator McCain for a lot of reasons. In our minds, he is that person.’
Will other reluctant Obama supporters be moved by the Unity rally? It depends on who you ask. Diary of a Content Black Woman blog says:
As an American, I appreciate this effort by these former opponents to come together in an attempt to work out their differences for the good of the country. It sets an excellent tone of mature leadership – something our country desperately needs. Also, it shows children just how to “play nice” and be respectful and mindful of moving forward when a clear winner has emerged in a competition.
But one Clinton activist is not convinced. A Washington Post story on Friday featured Diane Mantouvalos of JustSayNoDeal.com, a Hillary fan who is working actively to promote the idea of keeping Hillary votes from Obama:
Democratic leaders insist — and polls indicate — that the vast majority of Clinton supporters, including women, already have flocked to Obama or eventually will. But the effectiveness of the Internet as an organizing tool for dissent is creating concern and uncertainty about the scope and intensity of those unwilling to fall in line.…
Mantouvalos, a self-described independent who grew up in Boston and said she nearly always votes Democratic, believes party leaders are underestimating the seriousness of the opposition movement. Using various metrics — e-mails to JustSayNoDeal.com (125,000), databases of organizations involved with the effort, registrants to and hits on selected protest Web sites — Mantouvalos estimates the coalition of more than 100 groups represents at least 10 percent of the 18 million voters who backed Hillary Clinton during the primary battle.
So will today’s event, billed as the first joint general election rally with Clinton and Obama, be enough to get the unity ball rolling? As Hillary Clinton said in her speech, “Unity is a wonderful feeling.” Now she and Obama have to convince all the Democrats to feel it and not just talk about it.
Cross-posted from BlogHer, where PunditMom is a Contributing Editor for Politics & News.