"New Tone" Has Strings Attached

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jun 27, 2008 3:57 PM
This New York Times piece labors mightily to convey the impression that when it comes to Obama-Clinton, it's all just one big kumbaya moment.

Not so much.  Read down well into the story, and you'll find the following:

The pleasantries, though, belied a litany of extenuating issues between the two former rivals. Mrs. Clinton asked a Washington powerbroker lawyer, Robert Barnett, to help negotiate the talks, which include helping repay her campaign debt and securing a prominent spot at the party’s summer convention.

In other words, Hillary's help and support are contingent.  Contingent on Barack giving her exactly what she wants.

As I just noted for Dateline Washington, this puts Barack in a tight place.  He needs Hillary's voters -- badly.  And some of them are still very angry about the lack of "respect" with which they feel she was treated.  That means that to have the chance of winning these people back, he's going to have to "respect" her plenty, with a prominent convention slot and lots and lots of TLC.  In a word, with almost whatever she wants.

But knuckling under to Hillary makes him look weak.  After all, he's the party nominee, right?  And if he can't stand up to her, how's he going to handle Ahmadinejad?  But if he puts her in her place -- and makes it clear she's not in charge -- well, couldn't some of Hillary's supporters feel as though that's "disrespectful"?