Donald Lambro

But will Clinton's speech be all about her and her campaign and the 18 million votes she received in the primaries? Hordes of her supporters will fill the convention hall, lustily cheering every utterance about her historic bid for the presidency. And many of them are unwilling to bury the hatchet and let bygones by bygones.

The name of one of the three major groups working on her behalf this week in Denver is PUMA, which stands for "Party Unity My A--." They insist that Clinton was robbed of the nomination and are in no mood to embrace Obama's candidacy, at least not yet.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Steve Grossman, who backed Clinton, told me that any possibility of party unity right now remains "a work in progress."

But the larger subtext of the Democratic convention is shaping up to be far more problematic for Democrats in the fall election.

While Obama has been preaching change, a new kind of politics and a new chapter in Democratic policies, the same old liberal, nanny state, anti-trade, anti-tax cuts, anti-drilling, anti-business politics will be on full display in Denver -- reminding voters that nothing has changed in the party of McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.

There will be the Clintons, hogging the limelight and wishing for a return to the old days when they were at the center of power. Then in rapid succession will come House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a conga line of other Democratic leaders, reminding the country why Congress' public-approval rating has sunk to 14 percent.

The keynote speech is being delivered by former Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia -- hardly a household name -- whose dull, technocratic speaking style was one of the reasons why his own presidential bid fell with a thud. But since Hillary will be at the podium on the same night, it's unlikely he will get much attention, which is just the way she likes it.

Other speeches are designed to appeal to a raft of Democratic special pleaders and blame-America-first complainers calling for a laundry list of new government programs to solve every problem under the sun. Haven't we heard this stuff before?

The closing act on Thursday night will be Barack Obama delivering his acceptance speech before a monster, outdoor rock-concert-style rally that favors his kind of promise-them-anything oratory. It will be like that gigantic outdoor rally in Berlin, where hundreds of thousands of frenzied Germans turned him into a global celebrity that has backfired on his candidacy.

Obama returned home to discover that the voters were looking for an experienced leader, not an international political rock star.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.