June 29th, 2008

VDB Does Everything Conceivable to Muff Coverage of the Obama/Clinton Unity Event, But Succeeds More or Less In Spite of Self

by Philip Baruth

In the crucial days leading up to the Third Annual Political BBQ & Hamburger Summit, the close of voting for the Daysie Awards, and the much-discussed Unity event with Obama and Clinton in New Hampshire, VDB was in New York City facing severe technical issues. We could post, but with something like a 7-hour lag time until that post went live. A nightmare scenario for your compulsive blogger.

All photos by Gretchen Abendschein

But between friends and technology, it’s almost impossible to keep a good blogger down. Case in point: the Unity event. Because Jet Blue apparently makes it a practice to idle all flights a minimum of one hour on the runway, we had plenty of time to take in all the cable post mortems of the ballyhooed New Hampshire love fest.

Sure, the coverage was infantile, focused almost exclusively on “subtle” (pretend) indicators of ongoing discord: body language, posture, presence or absence of spouses, seating arrangements on and off the campaign plane, etc.

Even with that, the pictures and the dogged bonhomie were good for the soul. But what to do for you, the selfless reader?

Again, friends and technology. Turns out a die-hard VDB reader named Annie has a BFF named Gretchen, who happens to have volunteered to work the Unity event, and who happens to be pretty damn handy with a camera.

And bingo bango: we come into the VDB command center this morning and there are your photos, from NH to VT, from Gretchen to Annie to VDB to you.

Tempting to say the process works automatically, because we have so little to do with it, actively speaking, but that’s not it: it’s intensely personal, but that web of personal connection stretches across states.

A truly beautiful thing.

Now let’s face facts: the Clinton and Obama camps have wounds, some of them still open, and any discussion of interiority, of genuine feelings toward one another, is just silly. The issue is not what Hillary or Obama feel, but what they are willing to do.

And in this case, both did everything possible.

No one will ever be able to say that Hillary was disrespected, or that Obama was offered half-hearted support.

Or almost no one. There were, of course, a few dead-enders.

You’ve got to love this woman. First of all, you’ve got to love her because she’s never going away. Ever.

She’ll be there at the Obama inauguration, she’ll be hollering in the crowd outside every Obama State of the Union, and she’ll throw herself in front of the bullet-proof limo just after the second Inauguration.

But second of all, you have to love her because she’s just so incredibly into it. Particularly evocative is the Hillary t-shirt, either designed or worn so it can be read, literally, through a mirror, through the looking glass.

Which is to say that for this woman, there will always be a Wonderland where Hillary won, where sexists were scourged, junior black Senators were content to accept their place on the ladder, and the anger she feels personally about Hillary’s loss is replaced by joy and peace and love.

On the other hand, you don’t have to love this guy with the bitter gun-owner sign, as far as we’re concerned. Feel free not to love, in fact.

But apart from the media-ready handful of dead-enders, it looks like a best-case scenario: Hillary demonstrates all the class and competence her followers have always touted, and Obama shows how ready he is to re-elevate the Clintons and to let bygones be bygones.

Will Obama get every vote in November, with Hillary so publicly on board? No. But it won’t be for lack of trying. This event in Unity showed a couple of candidates and an entire party trying very, very hard, in a good way.

It’s called the enthusiasm gap, and it’s coming for John McCain.

It’s coming for John McCain and it won’t stop until every man, woman, child and pet in the United States of America knows that it’s possible to win this time out, to take it all the way.

[Many thanks to Gretchen Abendschein for the fine photos accompanying this post. And for more Unity photo goodness, try Christian Avard’s contributions to Green Mountain Daily.]