If you are looking for some indication that the Democratic National Convention will be a giant healing ceremony for a party riven by the primary contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, my hometown newspaper The Buffalo News throws you a bone. Watch CNN or FOXNews and you will get the impression that Clintonistas are so disgruntled and petulant (a stereotype the John McCain campaign is counting on) that Obama has no chance of winning them over. By contrast, The News reports differently:
The Obama forces have gone out of the way to make Clinton delegates feel welcome, said Erie County Clerk Kathleen C. Hochul.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from the Obama people, wanting to make sure that I’m comfortable and have what I need and inviting me to go to some events,” Hochul said. “We’re clearly coming together.”
There certainly are plenty of events to attend. In addition to the traditional New York delegation breakfasts, there will be a plethora of parties each day, and a who’s who of New York politics will be here to witness it all.
Mind that “coming together” phrase. They use it a lot.
I find this significant for a few reasons. As Senator, Clinton has impressed Western New Yorkers by consistently sending their way federal funding and programming aimed at relieving the economic stagnation that has afflicted the area since the late 70’s. As the article notes, local politicos from the entrenched Democratic Party machinery expected that a second President Clinton would be an intimate ear and share the largess. Also, WNY is chock full of those blue collar white people whom Obama has reportedly had trouble recruiting — the Reagan Democrats and Clinton supporters that might vote for McCain and against their self interests (economic, reproductive, etc.)
Mind you, it’s not overwhelmingly significant. Voters might buck the machines of party and labor unions. And the various resentments of white workers against both affirmative action and the rise of the black middle class continue to obscure the mutual interests workers of all colors share. Code words like “unqualified” and “arrogant” persist, especially connected to the argument that Clinton was “more experienced” or “deserving.” And the News article focuses only on local area leaders, party members with a personal stake in working with whatever Democratic administration might come to bear upon their political futures. Far be it from Jerry Zremski, the reporter to point that out or raise the question or exhibit any of the skepticism one might expect of a journalist, a Washington Bureau Chief.
FWIW, the News article is evidence that the Obama campaign has spent most of the Summer trying to make nice-nice with Clinton delegates. Hopefully the convention will get that over with so it can focus on winning the election.