Group Therapy

18Aug08

Is Barack desperate?

Rep. Loretta Sanchez says she’s happy for the chance to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Democratic National Convention — and she predicts that as many as half of the Democrats in the House could join her.

Half of the Democrats in Congress may be voting for Hillary at the convention? In plain sight, for all of America to watch?

On Friday, the Obama campaign confirmed that the floor vote in Denver, intended to assuage Clinton supporters still stewing over her narrow loss, will be conducted as a state-by-state roll call. Under proposed convention bylaws, delegates would be forced to register their votes on a tally sheet with the convention secretary — the rules could be altered or suspended before the start of the convention.

Group Therapy was the only option?

“By putting her name in nomination, you’re putting people on the spot,” said former delegate counter Matt Seyfang, adding a second potential drawback: “Having a roll call … just chews into your broadcast time.”

What if there’s an eruption of emotion, cheering for Hillary, a spontaneous demand that she be the nominee?

Lower-key options were available. For example, Clinton’s name could have been entered into nomination, followed by laudatory speeches, ending with her release of delegates to Obama and proposal that he be nomination by acclamation, Seyfang said.

This can’t be how it’s going to go down.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the “mechanics” of the roll call vote are still being worked out, but he conceded that Clinton probably will garner many votes on the first ballot.

Surely, the need for catharsis isn’t that great as to risk the convention imploding around Hillary.

For Obama’s camp, the roll call is a ritual that will defuse any potential tension with Clinton or her supporters without affecting the outcome or the theater of Obama’s dramatic nomination.

What if it’s more than expected?

Just how many former Clinton supporters will vote for the former first lady during the symbolic first ballot is anybody’s guess, but each of them will be called upon to do so — whether they want to or not.

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