August 27th, 2008
08:06 PM ET

Behind the convention cheers – Obama's discipline

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/27/art.triplet.obama.hrc.bill2.jpg]
Carl Bernstein
AC360° Contributor

Barack Obama is getting the convention he wants, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The convention he is building reflects him and his priorities: it’s thoughtful, not just red-meat; and he’s in surprising control of the message, given the forces he’s dealing with. Indeed, the convention-building and the message may be far more sophisticated and effective than we instant commentators were prepared to discern. Witness the opening night grousing on-air about the convention’s supposed thematic absence, and aversion to instant butchery of the opposition.

Task Number One for Obama:
Defining himself as a person, not just a politician: telling his story and that of Michelle Obama and their family. An American story, meant to definitively undermine the oppo-narrative of the Clinton campaign, and now the Republican oppo-narrative – that he is some kind of vaguely alien, exotic candidate. (For some undecided voters, that also means uncomfortably black). Michelle Obama – as well as the team that produced her bio-pic – delivered with perfect pitch on Night One.

This was the real opening business of the convention, the essential themes to get right. As well as to establish an umbilical connection between Obama and the greatest of Democratic traditions and immutable principles… a generational passing of the torch that Caroline and Ted Kennedy declared unmistakably – and emotionally – had now moved past the Clintons.

It would be hard to underestimate how personally difficult the defection of the Kennedys has been for Hillary and Bill Clinton: consider how, as an adolescent, Bill idolized JFK, emulated him as a politician; that JFK Jr. was among the first contributors to Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign; and that Caroline’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, formed a close friendship with Hillary (in private, they shared a wicked sense of humor), and told friends that, of all her successors as First Lady, she was most fond of Hillary Clinton. Caroline and Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama on January 28 was a critical blow to Hillary’s campaign).

Task Number Two:
Defining Obama’s Politics: Anyone who has talked to Obama knows he genuinely believes in ending the cultural wars that have poisoned the politics of past generation; and, whether you agree with his solutions or not, he has given great thought to the condition and state of America—its problems, its strengths, and how to initiate a tectonic (and generational) change in political direction. What he has not done, say even many of his allies, is get very specific during the campaign about programs, numbers, legislation. (See Task 4.)

Mark Warner’s keynote speech was on a plane not usually in evidence at conventions: subtle, powerful, inspirational, cerebral, practical – and as convincing a case as can be made for the underpinnings of Obama’s politics and a post-Bush, post-Clinton, post-partisan agenda. He made the connection between the man and his politics. Substantively, there were reminders of how thoughtful, humane, and forward-looking Bill Clinton’s politics looked some 15 years ago.

Task Number Three, a Houdiniesque Proposition:
Easing the Clintons off center stage (inevitably, still kicking) and into the kind of major supporting roles in the Obama campaign that capture all the unique Clintonian star power, and even compels Hillary and Bill Clinton to help Barack Obama win the presidency.

This Houdiniesque proposition recognizes that the Clintons, campaigning for Obama in the right places, and pushing the right political and media buttons, can deliver as no other Democrats in America. And that it is in their interests to do so, thus rescuing Bill Clinton’s damaged legacy from a brutal primary season’s beating (and his own self-destructive instincts); and even further enhancing Hillary’s stature as a leader in the party and the nation — without further threatening Obama.

Hillary’s speech last night was the crucial first step: a huge stride toward uniting her genuine movement of women and blue-collar workers with Obama’s formidable new Democratic movement that almost couldn’t close the deal by the end of the primary-caucus season. If she and Obama can fuse those two movements in Denver without a divisive struggle on the convention floor (as seems likely), Obama is a lot closer to being able to win the presidency than he was a week ago. And already, Hillary has delivered for him, big-time – despite some carping that she didn’t go far enough.

Now, look for both Clintons to begin campaigning in critical battleground states as early next week. And for Bill Clinton to deliver a powerful speech on Obama’s behalf tonight, throwing the hall into predictably pandemonious excess (as did Hillary), leaving no doubt among Democrats of all persuasions that John McCain and Bush-Republican policies are a totally unacceptable alternative to Barack Obama.

A footnote to the ongoing Clintonian psychodrama that, as usual and quite reasonably, has mesmerized the media and continues to hang over the political landscape in Denver and beyond:

First, the essential dynamic: that the Clintons do not like Obama, hate how he systematically went about burying their attempt at a Clintonian restoration to the presidency; and they have never found it easy to be gracious in defeat. The final, gratuitously vicious wound (in their view) was Obama’s decision not to make Hillary his vice presidential nominee.

Fact: Once the “Atlantic Monthly Memos” were published — with Mark Penn’s overt strategy of smearing Barack Obama as coming from an “unAmerican” background — there was virtually no chance Hillary would have been acceptable to Obama or his wife. The only possibility, say his aides: if it were indelibly clear that he could not win the presidency without putting her on the ticket.

Obama and his small cadre of top aides were convinced there is a far better way, without the oxygen-consuming formula of Hillary-as-Veep now on display at the convention: Put the Clintons to work for the Obama-Biden ticket, getting them to fly the Democratic flag against John McCain, and — based on Obama’s real respect for them both and their singular accomplishments – giving them outsized roles in national life during an Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the Clintons — as if to underscore the personal (as differentiated from simply political) chasm between Obama and themselves — let it be known that Mark Penn had a hand in drafting both their convention speeches.

Task Number Four:
Delivering — beyond the Obama aura and the oratory — with specifics: His speech on the last night of the convention. It is instructive to watch Obama’s remarkable speech to the 2004 Democratic convention: he must do it one better in 2008, laying out a vision for the country under his leadership that is specific enough (his top aides seem to agree) to put an end to the Clinton-McCain refrain that he’s all about oratory.

He — and others, including Joe Biden tonight — will be addressing the supposed commander-in-chief gap and the “3 a.m.” assertions that he’s not ready to lead. Look for a passel of generals to be on-stage with Obama in the stadium tomorrow night.


Obama beat the toughest Democratic machine of modern times, and a candidate considered by the media, the pollsters and most of the political class to be the Democrats’ inevitable nominee. He did it by staying on message; out-organizing the Clinton campaign in state after state; harnessing the power of a new generation of voters; and utilizing a set of tools (particularly the Internet) that his opponents vastly underestimated.

The most consistent aspect of the Obama campaign from the beginning has been its discipline, and the nominee’s control of his own message and apparat. Thus far, the Denver convention seems to be on that same track.

soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Shelly in Illinois

    Has it occured to anyone that maybe Hillary didn't want the VP position? That she would rather focus on getting Obama elected and then plan to run again next time? Why take the VP spot when what she wanted was the top spot?
    As for the comments by HC supporters STILL planning to vote for McCain, please have an open mind about what the two parties stand for. I've always believed you should vote for the person, not the party. But after seeing what the Republican administration has done to this country, I would've supported the Democrats if it had been Hillary or Obama. As Hillary said, what is most important is to support the Democratic party if we want real change. We do not want another 4 more years of status quo!
    At a local and state level, party isn't as important as the person – but at the national level, when we've had to endure so much these past 8 years, I really feel that we need to have a Democratic administration in order to turn this country around. It's time for a change!

    August 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  2. carol

    The only reason Hillary lost was because of Florida and Michigan. Don't you think that's a little too convenient that they wouldn't let them count?

    Why would they change the dates of their primaries if they knew their votes wouldn't be counted? It was a political move to insure that Obama mama would win.

    August 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  3. Wynell

    Let me first say that this body of work you have submitted Carl, is the most honest and professional piece of journalism I've read over the past 6 months. I wish more of your bretheren at CNN kept to the core of what journalism is about. There have been countless post on numerous blogs stating that Barack Obama isn't ready or lacks the experience to be President. To all who would read this please take note of the following: The presidency is a job that no one is trully ready to tackle from day one. Each administration has faced challenges that it's predecessor's never faced or couldn't even fathom. During the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Reagan no one had ever concieved the thought of a terrorist attack on US soil purpertrated by radical Islamist. Who knows how they would have handled it. Reagan was an excellent statesman, but had a horrible civil rights (not just rights for minorities) platform dating back to his day as Govenor of California. He too was labeled as lacking experience however, his statesmanship helped bring the Cold War to an end. LBJ was the perfect person to bring about sweeping civil rights changes based on his early carreer teaching minority children in San Antonio, and seeing firsthand the damage of segregation. Of the five presidents I listed LBJ, Eisenhower, and Kennedy are still considered great because of their acomplishments. Those same three were considered too young (Kennedy), lack of political experience (Eisenhower), and too liberal (LBJ.) None of them had previous experience in the issues that resolved, but they all had excellent vision, judgement, and the good sense to surround themselves with great peopl. Given the opportunity Barack Obama will do the same.

    August 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  4. Richard Johnson

    Bernstein's characterization of the Democratic Convention so far is spot on. The Clintons did very well in their efforts for party unity, and the organization of the convention does indeed reflect on how Obama will organize the government once he is elected.

    The canard about Obama being arrogant is a stupid lie cooked up by self-interested opponents. He is a self-made, accomplished, determined, self-confident, and ambitious man. He has given his life in public service. Unlike the arrogant Republicans who assume God-given rights, Obama has earned his position through his own efforts, not through inherited or married wealth. Obama has devoted his talent and time to public service rather than relying on his achievements to become an arrogant Republican elitist.

    Marrying a rich second wife, after leaving one who was unsuitably ill, is not a qualification to be President in spite of the newly available cash to spend on political attacks. Mr. McCain has yet to show how his experience translates to anything of public benefit. Pretending to be a maverick and then cowardly yielding to the Republican party line on taxes and torture does not earn my respect, much less my vote. How can anyone trust Mr. McCain after these flip flops?

    Obama has what we need in a president. I give him my blessing now and my vote in November. Obama08!!

    August 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  5. Stephanie

    Regarding experience – would you rather have a president who graduated at the top of his Harvard Law School class in constitutional law or a president who graduated at the bottom of his class at a naval academy?

    August 28, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  6. David Gerstenfeld

    Whether Obama or McCain wins, they will inherit the worst package of "problems" in modern times & WILL at one point wish that the other guy won. I don't envy the next president. Obama's speeches should start including statements i.e. " A great leader isn't a know-it-all, but rather surrounds himself with the best advisors in every field that needs to be addressed. Socrates said " The ONLY thing I know for certain, is that I don't know everything". John McCain stresses Obama's inexperience. Any fool can star a war. This country needs someone who is smart enough not to. If McCain gets elected we'll have the same republicans vs. democrats votes & little accomplished.
    I say give the Democrats 4 years to change direction or vote them out
    David, Las Vegas

    August 28, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  7. ben

    Bill Clinton as the best orator since Reagan? No party unity before the convention? I get your point, it's just weak. Look, if you are upset Hildog lost, that's okay. But don't run your mouth. You make everyone look pathetic when you do that.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  8. Reginald L.

    It's real sad that people that were pulling for Hillary are now going to support McCain because she's not the nominee. You weren't for changing the world into a better place, you were for Hillary. Even if we don't have a definitive answer on what Obama will do, we KNOW what McCain will do and that hasn't worked for the last 8 years! Keep throwing your fits and acting childish and if you cost Obama this election, just look in the mirror (if you still have a house to put that mirror) and blame yourself.

    Obama has inspired the nation, hell, the world! I can't wait to cast my vote for the Democratic Nominee, Barack Obama!

    August 28, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  9. AHerbert; San Diego, CA

    All I can say that we are united as Democrats ... Obama and Hillary rivalry reminded me of sibling rivalry... with Ted Kennedy as the uncle to put things in perspective every thing fell into order ... I love our United Party... I feel so hopeful such as I did when Bill Clinton ran for office and I know that the dark days of the Republican Administration is over.... yes America... Yes we can ... we can become once again the great country of the world…

    August 28, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
  10. Phil in KC

    I think those last 2 paragraphs are more important the rest of the article. In short, the Clintons underestimated Obama. It will be interesting to see if John McCain does the same. I think Obama is a more skilled politician than most people give him credit for.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  11. Haley

    I haven't drank the Kool-Aid or anything, but I certainly do not want John McCain picking the next 2 -3 Supreme Court justices...that's not a risk I am willing to take, as a woman, or a supporter of civil rights.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  12. Denise

    I don't care for either of the Clintons but I thought their speeches were great. It could be because I have been watching the convention each night on the DNC Channel. No reporters, no input from anyone. Just the convention and it has been the best. I see EVERY single bit of it without commentary from news people that I may or may not agree with. I see all that is omitted by commercials etc. More people should watch it this way and I bet they would see and feel a whole different way then one does with constant input from commentators.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Kelvin

    I am a registered Independent and I keep hearing the Republicans talking about Obama is nothing more than a empty suit, a celebrity and all the other junk that's not worth mentioning. I want to hear the Republican's plan other than continue the same ole Bush policies. The only thing I see so far that's offered from the Republicans is desperation. So far I'm seeing a empty party–all negatives and no solutions to the mess we're in.

    August 28, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  14. Roger Tanner

    Excellent article by Bernstein. But what I am most impressed by with candidate Obama is what a quick study he is. Hillary and Joe Biden were right in the primaries to say that Barack Obama had little foreign policy experience and might not be ready for the job. But what they underestimated was how quickly he could educate himself and how far he could come in a few short months, in part because of the criticism of his 'inexperience'. The contrast between the lame brain presently in the office and the intellectually tired old (albeit vital) man running for the Republicans could not be starker. Nobody starts out qualified for the office, but the potentially great ones learn (and learn quickly) what they need to know.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  15. Jan

    It is very sad that disappointed Clinton supporters are more concerned about how Hillary has been treated than the reality of what will happen under an ultra-conservative supreme court system under McCain.
    Roe versus Wade and other major Supreme Court constitutional interpretations will be determined by the ideology of these new justices placed on the bench during this next administration!

    August 28, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  16. Jean-Pierre

    Carl, withn due respect, Sen. Obama has already defined himself, time and time again, as a person. he's done that in speeches, in meetings, in writing (have you read his book?).

    What kind of definition do you now want from him? or do you rather want him to re-define who he is? Do you expect him to re-invent his "me"?

    Montaigne (I think) once said that "whoever attempts to define freedom ipso facto delineate it.


    August 28, 2008 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Tom

    Great Article. The mere fact that the Obama Campaign soundly defeated the political machine of the Clintons with a sound unwavering plan shows me that he and his team can lead this country. I was not sure of this until now. I was a New York Hillary supporter. What I think he needs to do now is put the Clintons aside and keep them quiet during the final campaign. Now, on to a great Democratic Victory in November.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  18. David Lawson

    What specifics has McCain provided on the economy, security, healthcare, global issues, etc. Why do people keep asking for specifics ONLY from Obama? Mccain has been in the senate for over 2 decades and his voting record and his contribution needs to be scrutinised. He has never been a remarkable senator.

    If I can remember correctly, George W Bush had no specific plan and won. Al Gore by contrast had the most detailed and specific plan and lost.

    People don´t want specifics – People vote with their hearts 99.9% of the time. Otherwise, a young inexperienced sickly playboy senator called JFK would never have made it to the whitehouse.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Alan

    Carl, your remarks track closely with my personal observations. I think the disappointment and dissenting views voiced by various pundits is based on their expectation of what the Republican convention will be. The fact no one was bleary eyed and looking for blood was refreshing. Having a constructive discourse with the public on matters that are important to our national interests and survival as a nation state is what Barack Obama is about. Its what his campaign has been about since day one: inclusive engaging discourse, not petty bickering and mudslinging where the only loser is the electorate, which, by the way, stands to lose everything with four more years of George Bush, operating under the guise of a John McCain presidency. I've missed some of the speeches, but my feeling of those I've seen, they are what I hope will become the future of political discourse in this country. We've had enough of the simple minded, winner-loses-all sports mentality and the gratuitous self-indulgent and sophomoric dances in the end-zone of the political arena. We need REAL CHANGE, and (although late to be an Obama convert) I've come to believe the Obama/Biden opportunity is the answer and light we've all yearned for in the angry darkness of the past 20+ years.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  20. sk

    Mary: I cannot agree with your comments more. Obama is a big show man and not a statesman. No vote for me this year.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:29 pm |
  21. Joanne Valentine

    Very interesting article and even more interesting comments. Bottom Line is that America needs change. We are going through such difficult times for the middle class. People are struggling to make ends meet. Decisions on whether to pay the mortgage, put food on the table or go for healthcare should not be the norm as it is today. I watch my children struggle to make it during these hard times and I pray for a change, hope for better life and try to help as best as I can. The politics of the last 8 years has not brought peace and prosperity to America. Just a steady decline. I feel that Barack Obama is the better choice for President. I know that he will make a difference, he will bring change, he will do his best for us. And that in the end is what counts.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  22. Kevin

    Obama needs to define truely what change is. Without a plan on how to change things he will just be another candidate who might win an election and then fails to make due on his "promise of change".

    I would like to congratulate all the "haters" on both sides of the political spectrum for making themselves look like absolute idiots who spend way to much time digging into the theasaurus.

    A point was made earlier that this congress has been one of the most unproductive in the last twenty years... if the status quo of congress is maintained I doubt Obama can make much of a difference...unless of course he has a PLAN. Even if he has to change his plan later which he likely will he still needs one to start off with...otherwise its going to be another 4 years of going no where and just hoping to god that some great political, economic, and social leader steps forward. Honestly between Hillary Clinton (too much baggage), John McCain (too old), and Barrack Obama (too inexperienced and leftest) is this the best America can do?????? I suppose its pretty clear that most decent and suitable candidates who would run for and be a good choice for president simply don't want to lower themselves to the mud slinging and political backstabbing involved in modern politics.

    Perhaps Biden will be another Chenny?

    Perhaps Liebermann (not much younger than McCain) if selected as VP could throw a real wrench into the DNC plan?

    Just a thought

    August 28, 2008 at 12:19 pm |
  23. jer

    I am a registered Republican and I am supporting Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I am from Pennsylvania and after years of thinking the Republicans stood for me and my core values, I have decided its just not the case. Witness the wealth issue of these candidates and proposed VPs. If you include Romney on the ticket, its about $350M net worth versus $5.15M net worth

    This convention has been a new energy our country and our world desperately needs. Tired of all the hate. Tired of all the (sad but true) clinging to guns and religion. There's more to vote for than abortion and gun control.

    I am sure the Democrats will welcome me.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  24. John M

    To answer JC in LA:

    Regarding providing leadership over 4 days. Traditionally at all conventions, the Nominee never shows up "on-air" before they make their acceptance speech on night 4, which is tonight. The fact that he joined Biden on Stage was done so to create even more excitement before tonight speech. Also, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at a convention that you never get to see anymore – how the political planks of the party platform develops (which will make up the details you're looking for) – most of which is boring and they don't show that stuff on TV anymore. Both Obama and his campaign staff have to roll up their sleeves for that part that you never see.

    Everything that has taken place so far, builds up to his speech tonight. He will start getting into the details without getting into the dollars and cents – that's done in the campaign speeches after the convention.

    Carl is right, the Clintons sulked after Obama got the necessary delegates. All this talk about Hilary’s supports voting for McCain is ludicrous. The next president is probably going to be able to name 3 or 4 Justices to the Supreme Court. The old McCain used to be more middle of the road and 4 years ago, he might have replaced a liberal justice with another liberal justice to keep the status quo. Since he sold his soul to the Devil 2 years ago and got the Bush Administration's support, who knows what promises he's made. If the court goes 7-2 conservative. Because the replacements are much younger, it could stay that way for the next 20-25 year and we are all in trouble. Hilary’s supporters have to know that.

    Anyway, he did get what he wanted – not only did he bring the Clintons back into the party fold, they will be campaigning for him. That was totally unexpected – it did bring the party together.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  25. Bonnie Selmer

    With either one, whether Obama or Hillary, as our presidential nominee, this nation and all its multiple peoples will experience momentous change. Among the last of several great nations to realize that women and persons of any color, are as capable as old white men to guide the destiny of a nation, we shall at last celebrate real equality. Then let us hope that all persons respectfully understand that gender and racial equality are natural rights and let us all strive to promote achievement within all cultures disseminated throughout this grand nation of ours.
    Bonnie Selmer

    August 28, 2008 at 12:13 pm |
  26. Kristal

    There is so much talk about Obama not having a plan, and that he doesn't stick to the issues. Are we following the same election? Do me a favor and check out barackobama.com and you will see plans and issues addressed. So many people are listening to the garbage that many politicians, who wish they were in Obama's position, are saying about his unreadiness for the White House. Well of course they're going to bash him if they were or are running against him. Please, do some research for yourself!!!! Stop listening to the garbage!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm |
  27. Janice

    Obama will have to WORK to win the election. He's got a lot to do to win my vote. I don't vote along party lines, although Bill Clinton and Al Gore stated their positions clearly, gave information that made it easy to vote for them. How can I vote for someone who calls the middle class "christians carrying guns"? He says he is the CHANGE candidate. He needs to change his views about the middle class. What's he going to change & how does he think he's going to get it done? What is his plan? This country is made up of the lower and middle class. The rich, while holding the power, are fewer in number. Unless he does a LOT better job in the next days and weeks, I will be staing home on election day.

    August 28, 2008 at 12:07 pm |
  28. Ike

    We love to bicker don't we? The fact of the matter is this, Both Hillary and Barak are the strongest presidential candidates this country has seen probably since Bill ran in 1992, they clobbered each other in the primaries but now the votes were tallied and the primary conceded, its over. We are in tough times right now, and I do not think we can afford 4 more years of the same politics of the republican policy and they will pull out all stops and do everything to divide us. there is too much at stake here, with the exception of Bill Clinton, republicans have reigned since the 60's, I think its time for a new democratic reign with new progressive thinking.
    go JoBama08!

    August 28, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  29. mjBruce

    We cannot afford anymore taxes. He wants to raise them for his and the rest of the Dems special programs. He has a questionable character with his associates. Hes for abortion and that means live abortion ( thats just so nasty) He wants all these ILLEGALS to come in here and suck off the teets of the Gov. Which means again more
    money taxed on me. Hes for more rapes, car jackings, loaded Emergency rooms, jails,molestations and the list goes on and on. Dems are known to increase taxes and to do what they want never listening to the people. The gov job is to protect and serve its people. And the Dems will get us into more trouble....We Legal American citizens want to continue our soverinity. WE ARE number one and are slowly losing it to other countries. Obama wants to talk to the enemy without preconditions. Hes not worried about the little countries, like Iran who is helping the insurgents in Iraq and who want to blow Isreal off the map and to cut off the Christians heads. Cuba, and vensuela. If Iran gets nukes not to worry. Sorry Obama I worry and all of us do. We need a military built up. Clinton did that by decreasing our protectors.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  30. evi wolf

    For Obama to be elected, he needs to counter McCain's strong self confidence image and become an extremely convincing figure, that he has what it takes to deliver and execute his ideas. He needs to substantiate what he says with rationales and past achievements. He must show that his thinking, his experience, his ability to select good advisors counters big time McCain's attacks of lack of experience. I suggest that he find residents of South Chicago, who may have benefited from Obama's work there, to speak up. I would be careful not to promise everything for everyone. The Obama campaign must come out swinging and hard and now, or I'm afraid the Republicans will gain.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:55 am |
  31. Nikki

    I would like to say congrats to Obama and the entire Democratic family. They have done nothing but prove themselves in this election. With them telling their story about their families and how they came about just lets us know that they have ordinary lives like we do. They too had to work for what they believed in and wanted to accomplish. I truly believe in Obama and I know he will lead all Americans on a great journey. Yes, many people think that he should have chose Hilary but trust him. He knows what he is doing and Hilary and Bill Clinton said so themselves. And we all know how well they did when in office. We will see change in America with him as our president. I’m sure of it.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  32. Antoinette

    I have never been a Hilary Clinton fan, but I must say I was impressed with the strength and dignity that she displayed both in her speech Tuesday night and on the floor Wednesday. She was phenomenal. And President Bill Clinton truly "hit the ball out of the park" last night with his positive remarks and faith in Obama because his came from someone who has held the Commander in Chief position for eight years.

    I don't necessarily believe either the Democrats or the Republicans are good for the middle class, but I do believe that the Clintons have played a major role in unifiying the Democratic Party and that any Hillary Clinton fan who has decided not to vote for Barack Obama (whose political ideas are closely aligned with Hillary's) has made that decision based on their own personal bias'.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  33. Natalie

    NOW I really believe that Bill and Hillary are with the program and I have contributed to retiring her debt. She and Bill did everything that could have been asked of them. Please, to really unite the party, do the same as a show of support for the incredible job they did.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  34. Zachary

    I'm a PROUD Native of Delaware, and I could care less that Biden is on the ticket. Don't forget that he voted AGAINST the use of force in the first gulf war, at a time when saudi arabia, jordan, and other arab countries wanted to stop saddam. Great job joe.

    John McCAIN WILL win this election, just wait and see.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:32 am |
  35. Willie

    Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware set the stage for Sen.Barack Obama’s historic address as the Democratic presidential nominee by launching a heated attack Wednesday night tying Sen. John McCain to the his mentor George W. Bush. Now all voters are assured that they have the power to change the country’s direction. To all the Mc Cain supporters, you all know you better bring it. I do not say this to be mean so please do not let me anger you. But why stay loyal to high gas prices? Why forget all the brave soldiers that gave there precious lives for a war that should have never been waged in the first place. I personally feel that the Bush Administration in some ways committed a crime, they deceived the American people. You can't deny that Barack knows that he will continue to be under the microscope even after he is in office. I feel that he truly seeks change and I hope you will have the open heart to forgive yourselves for even thinking of taking a gamble on John McCain and four more years of Republican failures. People are angry because Obama has hope that includes our children's future and Why not? Our kids are the future, you see it's one thing to have to deal with the terrorist that want to attack America. But some of our kids right here in America are acting like terrorist on American soil. Walking around with guns, kids that are young as ten years old, Who are committed to gangs & violence, of all sorts of crimes that I do not even have to mention.
    On the night the Democratic National Convention made Obama the African-American ever nominated by a major party, delegates erupted in thunderous cheers when Obama joined Biden at the conclusion of his speech accepting the No. 2 spot on the ticket. “At the start of Obama's surprize appearance. I said to myself wow! the slogan. The main slogan, that remains in my heart. Change does not start from the top down. It starts from the bottom up,” Obama

    August 28, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  36. Mick

    JC – Los Angeles

    Is this your first convention. The nominee's do not appear at all – period. Until FDR , they didn't even make an acceptance speech. Obama shouldn't have needed to unify the party, if you are a democrat, when Hillary lost your allegiance should have switched to Obama. To say McCain is a centrist is totally wrong – he WAS a centrist perhaps would be phrasing it correctly. Any Democrat voting for McCain is delusional – he has become a Neo-Con full stop.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:29 am |
  37. Atyab

    The clintons did an excellent job convincing the skeptics that they are willing to put the interests of the country before their own. It was evident from their demeanor and active partcipation that they will lead the charge, marching in sync with Obama and Biden, against the flawed republican policies. I feel that this election will sadly come down to people's comfortability with having a non-white president. the vision, the policies, and the enthusiasm to bring change will take a back seat when the republicans and neo-cons will once again try to appeal to the countries deepest fears through innuendos, half-truth and blatant lies. I pray for the sake of our country's future and our children's well being that the American people reject such politics of fear and unite for our common national interests. God bless America

    August 28, 2008 at 11:21 am |
  38. Chris, Virginia

    Obama is doing a good job with the convention. He could have remained bitter and stuck to religion and guns, but he gave alot of leeway to the Clintons to restore thier star among the party, but yet was able to keep the party focused on the future. Even those that disagreed with him on some policies could still find themselves included. McCain has been said to hold grudges for years, fitting for a sidekick to Bush who wanted to avenge his father and go after Sadaam. The bottom line is that when you look past all the promises and SPECIFICS, you vote for the fundamental ideals that lie behind what they're saying. The democrats are wanting everyone to get healthcare directly from the government, where as McCain is talking out of the side of his mouth by saying he's for increasing competition, which if he talked directly he'd be saying he would give money to the healthcare and insurance companies and hope that it will filter down to lower costs for the consumer. That's a policy that will pad the pockets of the CEO and the average person will pay twice, once in taxes and second in bills. That's not change. That's McSame.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  39. Beth H

    Everyone is going on and on about the wonderful speeches the Clinton's both made, how hard they are working to unify the party, and what all of this means going forward for the Dems.

    I do have one question though, all of the things the Clinton's said during the primary run....the lack of experience....the inability to lead...that Obama is just not ready....

    Were those the lies or is what they are saying now the lies? One of the things I think we have to look at in our leaders is having the courage of their convictions. Over most of the past year we have all listened to the Clintons badmouth Obama and Obama badmouth the Clintons. Suddenly, in the last month or so they are united and well shucks, we all knew Obama was the best man for the job all along.

    So I have to ask, which statements were the lies? And, if you're going to lie half the time or when its convenient, how do we know when or if you aren’t lying? For me, neither makes a very good showing for our future President because along with every other "message" they are sending there is one underlying "message" and I believe among all of the rhetoric, this is the clearest message we have heard. And that message is, no matter what, I am going to have my way. Whether I have to lie, doubletalk, or waffle, it doesn’t matter, I will get what I want, and the American people are too dim witted to realize what I have done.

    The Clinton years were filled with many of things, good and bad; one of the more embarrassing things we seem to forget is part of the Clinton lagacy is all of the scandal-gates. Perhaps this is the true legacy, starting off the Obama race with a Democratic staple; we can call this one liar-gate.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  40. SL

    What makes Bernstien think Hillary was the "toughest democratic machine of modern times"? If she was so tough she would not have lost to a virtual political novice like Obama. Basically, I think voters voted for Obama in protest against Hillary who many could not stand to see as the nominee of the party. Now the democrats have nominated someone who lacks experience and keeps talking about change without giving any specifics. I think they basically blew an election they could have easily won. McCain is far from great, but unless he makes some embarrassing blunder during the debates I really can't visualize him losing this election. In fact, if he rides through election day without a major gaffe I think he will win the election by the largest margin since Bush I.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:10 am |
  41. Steve S.

    Barack Obama is the Democrats' Dan Quayle. Imagine if the Republicans had picked a minority candidate with a similar resume; the shrieks of pandering and incompetence would wake even a drugged Sean Penn. Pretty face, little experience and no courage, as demonstrated by a patent inability to defy his own party or reach across party lines on any matter of controversy or importance. Great candidate for the high school debate team, but too terrified to actually meet with town hall gatherings with John McCain and answer unscripted questions from those gun-and-religion-clinging high school graduates that he so patronizingly seeks to save from their own bad tendencies. Working to solve our country's problems - and succeed!!! - will take both courage and cross-party compromise, not some gauzy call for unity and the silly notion that you'll talk the other half of the country and their representatives into adopting your agenda. Carl, he can talk the talk, but he's never shown a willingness or ability to walk the walk.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:08 am |
  42. Jonathan

    Cindy – I'd like to know what more of a plan you want from Obama. He's consisted given a very detailed plan for every single bit of his policy. Energy? It's there. Health care? It's there. Taxes? It's there. Do you know what John McCain's health care plan is? Do you know how he'll save Social Security? Do you know his energy plan beyond "drill here and drill now!" or his plan for improving homeland security or where he's at with the environment? There is one candidate who has a lot of work left to define his policy, and it isn't Obama.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:07 am |
  43. donna

    Hey Carl,
    Why do you hate the Clintons?. It shows everytime you make a verbal or written commentary. Lighten up. Obama will not win this election.
    Who will you blame then Carl..... the Clintons.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:02 am |
  44. Cornflower

    Everyone wants to rain on the parade.

    The convention has been riveting and wonderful. Makes me happy to be an American, for a change. To anyone who says any differently, get a life!

    To Hillary supporters, keep sucking on your lemons. If you don't get on board, you'll continue to give yourselves ample reason to keep sucking.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:01 am |

    I like Carl Bernstein, but only people from Washington think choosing the Kennedy's over the Clintons was a smart move.
    Teddy Kennedy is without question the greatest Senator maybe ever.but I don't think any generation has warm fuzzy feelings about Caroline.

    Whether the Washinton insider like or respect the Clintons, I believe Bill Clinton could be elected again as president.

    Wondering if Obama's problems with the polls are about his race or his issues with the Clintons won't help solve the problem. The problem is Obama, David Axelrod, and their campaign. Obama's campaign thought that Bill Clinton did not deserve signs. I am starting to believe the Obama folks are not just arogant, but stupid.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  46. Chris

    I understand that all the Hillary supporters wanted her as VP but Hillary is nobody's #2. She has a more important roll in America and it starts with the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  47. Annie

    At last, some perspective! The punditry has gone on and on and on about the Obama campaign ceding the convention to the Clinton's, not focusing on beating McCain, not enough "red meat", etc – but they don't seem to believe that he is not about "politics as usual"!

    The Obama campaign was brilliant to allow the Clinton's to redeem themselves after a campaign that had tarnished Bill's legacy and put Hillary's future in doubt. They delivered brilliantly, and everyone was a winner. After Michelle's speech, who will believe (besides Karl Rove) that she doesn't love her country?

    I fervently hope that it works, that he is elected in November – but whether he is elected or not, we can all look back and see that he didn't stoop to the mudslinging and attack politics that have characterized American politics for way too many years.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  48. Damon

    Democrats – It is now time to to fully unite. I thank Hillary and Bill for what they said during the DNC. I voted for Bill both times. The things that happened during his time soured me a bit. Some of the things he said during the primaries didn't help either.

    Bill Clinton is not a racist and if anybody says so, they are totally wrong. That being said, his remarks didn't help (BTW – it was the media who actually started the racists stuff). The comments were just inappropiate.

    Anyway, that was then, this is now. We need ALL Democrats to unite and get behind our candidate. No more bashing of the Clintons (I've been critical, but never bashed). Contine to show your support for Hillary, by supporting Obama, who's policies are more closely aligned with hers. Dems in '08.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:21 am |
  49. Maria

    Why dont all supporters, Barrack's and Hilary's save their energy to fight the opponent McCain, instead of tearing themselves apart? Listen to the leaders, UNITY ! God bless you all.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:19 am |
  50. Patrick

    I had my doubts about how the Clintons would handle their huge role in the convention given the divisive primary. Those doubts have been thoroughly laid to rest. Hillary and Bill Clinton have both hit all the right notes at this convention. Like many people I thought Hillary's name on the ballot for the roll call was potentially divisive, but then through a masterfully orchestrated move, she turned it into unity inspiring bit of theater. Well done. Their speeches were also excellent. The Clintons have shown that they can put the division behind them and help the Democratic party win the Presidency.

    It's too bad a few of Hillary Clinton's supporters can't let it go. If you like her that much, then listen to her. She's right. Obama's issues track closely with her issues. If you support what she stands for, then your only reasonable choice in this election is Barack Obama. McCain is the polar opposite. Don't vote against your own beliefs on the issues because you're angry about how the primary turned out.

    Finally, stop buying the right wing talking point that Obama is an arrogant elitist. On what basis? It's just not there. The GOP is doing everything they can to sell that line. They can't back it up, but they figure if they repeat it often enough, people will believe it. It's astonishing that a man worth tens of millions of dollars is calling the other candidate an elitist, the candidate who just finished paying off his school loans a few years ago, the candidate who graduated from Harvard and instead of taking a high paying, prestigious law position, went to Chicago and worked for the community.

    August 28, 2008 at 10:16 am |
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