What She Didn’t Say

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

I so wanted to be pleased and relieved by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech to the Democratic National Convention. I was neither. Call me ungrateful, but the two things she didn’t say to the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) contingent sounded louder in my ears than the things she did say.

The Republican candidate’s “Debra” ad, released Monday, gave HRC the perfect opportunity to warn her unconverted supporters of one disaster that will befall them – and their female descendents — if the other guy is elected. Here’s the Huffington Post’s account.

The McCain campaign welcomed delegates to Denver with a new ad Monday, showing Debra Bartoshevich,a self-described “proud Hillary Clinton Democrat.” announcing that she opposes Barack Obama and will vote for John McCain. To back up the message, Republicans arranged a press-conference in Denver Monday morning with Bartoshevich and other Clinton supporters, who are all now backing McCain.

Midway through the event, Bartoschevich was asked if she was concerned about McCain’s pro-life voting record. At a podium paid for by the Republican National Committee, with McCain aide Carly Fiorina standing nearby, Bartoschevich said this:

“Going back to 1999, John McCain did an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle saying that overturning Roe v. Wade would not make any sense, because then women would have to have illegal abortions.”

Was she going off message? Or are Republicans engaging in some cagey multi-messaging? After the event, an RNC spokesman reiterated that McCain has been very clear about his position on abortion this campaign cycle. And he has.

Surveys have shown that the PUMA crowd is majorly unaware of McCain’s position on women’s reproductive rights.  Batgoshevich is existence proof of that fact. HRC didn’t even hint at that enormous difference between the Republican and the Democratic candidate.  Had she done so, she could have switched at least half of the unconverted in the convention hall, and at least as many watching at home.  She didn’t.

Then there’s the broader subject of the other guy’s idea of who should sit on the Supreme Court. With three likely resignations during the next president’s first term, the matter isn’t trivial. A whole panoply of issues crucial to women and working class Americans are at stake — even though three new progressive justices won’t automatically shift the court to the left — HRC could have mentioned the Republican candidate’s hit parade of sitting justices. There’s this:

When National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru asked McCain whether he admires any Supreme Court justice in particular, he answered “of course, Antonin Scalia…I admire how articulate he is, but I also from everything I’ve seen admire Roberts as well.”

and this:

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee said that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “would serve as the model for my own nominees, if that responsibility falls to me,” highlighting the gap between Republicans and Democrats on the question of who should sit on the Supreme Court. Both justices have established strong conservative records since Bush appointed them, and the appointment of one more conservative to the nation’s highest court could tip the balance on issues such as abortion, discrimination, civil liberties and private property.

Did Clinton say anything about this? If she so much as mentioned the Supreme Court, the words got by me, and I was listening hard.

What was she thinking? What was she doing? Why did she pass up these two grand opportunities to show her most ardent followers how important it is to work for and contribute to Barack Obama’s campaign?

I keep thinking of the delegates in Denver who are wearing tee shirts that say “Hillary 2012”, and I keep trying not to be angry.

Maybe Bill Clinton will make me feel better about the two of them tonight, but I’m not betting on it.

Update – 2:46 p.m. ET: If you’re on a dialup connection and can’t receive video of the Clinton address, HuffPo has the full text here.

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2 Responses to “What She Didn’t Say”

  1. Oh, I don’t know. I think the speech was the best of her life and did the job. She was direct, she was honest, she endorsed Obama at least 10 times during the speech, and she showed poise and grace under incredible adversity. I am an Obama supporter, but I started as a Clinton supporter and I can only say that she did not need to do what she did, so I believe 100% that she was sincere. Not only that, but a lot of those PUMA assholes are actually republican plants, so you aren’t going to be able to turn them, anyway. And the GOP, with it’s terrible behavior, is setting a bad precedent that will come back to bite is squarely in the ass sooner than we may imagine. And the rest of the job of unifying the party is Obama’s anyway. He has the ball, he must run with it and make the right play.

  2. […] Ehrlich Williamson at The Back Forty points out two things Clinton neglected that might have swayed even the most recalcitrant PUMAs: Surveys have […]

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