So Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have reached an agreement to place Hillary’s name into nomination for President. To which I say, “Great!” Now, I’m not old enough to be considered one of those “wrinkly old White dudes” (as Paris Hilton, who’s undergoing her own rehabilitiation, showing that she not only has a sense of humor about herself, but actually sounds more sensible than some of the pols!). But I do remember when networks used to cover the quadrennial conventions gavel-to-gavel. You know, back when we actually thought that the airwaves belong to The People, and the broadcasters had an obligation to actually provide a public service in exchange for making truckloads of money off said public airwaves. One of the exciting things about those conventions was watching the roll call of the states.
We tend to forget that there was a time where Presidential nominations weren’t locked up in March, and where there was at least some suspense in the nominating process. And even when the outcome was already evident, there was the opportunity for politicans big and small to have their moments in the sun, as their states cast their votes. As Michael Reagan recently commented on Larry King Live, in 1980, John Anderson and George H.W. Bush’s names were placed in nomination in addition to his dad, Ronnie. Shirley Chisholm and Jessie Jackson both had their names submitted in respective Democratic conventions (to name two who deserve a place among “historic,” though unsuccessful, campaigns that helped pave the way for both Hillary and Barack).
I have to admit that this has been an inspirational year. There’s something inherently “cool” in breaking barriers, be they gender or color. Perhaps that’s why it seems to hard to accept one or the other; one some level, some of us really would rather do both (or more) at once.
Here’s my suggestion to the folks orchestrating the Democratic Convention: do a roll call, and do it in prime time if you can. If not, at least CSPAN will carry it and maybe the cable networks will as well. When it comes time for New York to cast its votes, “the great State of New York yields…” until the point where Barack Obama is about to go over the required delegates for the nomination. At that point, whatever state is up next yields to New York. Chuck Schumer introduces his fellow Senator from New York, and Hillary Clinton moves to nominate Barack Obama by acclimation.
Wow, I say. Great theater. Recognition that Hillary Clinton well deserves (some less-than-stellar campaign tactics notwithstanding; this is politics, after all). And she gets to be the one who puts Obama over the top. Brings the party together. And on to November. Cue the balloon drop and “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Maybe it spoils the idea of convention as coronoation. But we have Soviet tanks rolling into a Western-leaning Eastern European democracy and the Olympics reminding us how controlled everything is in China. As Leonard Cohen puts it, “Democracy is coming to the USA!” Halleljuah, baby!