To the anguished cries of, “No!,” Hillary Clinton (D-NY) released her delegates before Wednesday afternoon’s roll call vote – deliberately timed to be well out of the prime-time spotlight.  When it was NY’s turn to announce its delegate tallies – by alphabetical order 32 other states and territories had already done so – Clinton herself moved to end the roll call and asked that Barack Obama (D-IL) be declared the Dem nominee by acclamation. It’s important to note that 18 percent of Hillary’s delegates did vote for her, even knowing that their votes were symbolic. They meant to send a message to the party – and a warning to the Obama campaign that many women are still aggrieved.

It was left to Bill Clinton to use every ounce of his political charm to help his wife’s supporters get over their broken hearts. In many ways, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s addresses to the DNC convention were the unity of opposites. She needed to secure her place in history (“I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years.”) he needed to move the party forward (“[T]he job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream and to restore American leadership in the world.”)

Of Hillary’s speech Tuesday night, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus writes:

Imagine how excruciating this moment must be. Clinton is like a jilted fiancee who not only has to go to her ex’s wedding – she has to toast the new bride. With millions watching.

Well, it couldn’t have been easy for her to hear Bill say of Obama: “The long, hard primary tested and strengthened him. And in his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he hit it out of the park.” Her historic role as the first viable female candidate for the presidency had been reduced to being the selfless “woman behind the man” who trained the tyro for the job she should have gotten.

Bill directly referred to Obama by name 17 times, by The Stiletto’s reckoning, and offered his personal testimonial as a former president selling Obama’s fitness to ascend to the highest office in the land:  

† Everything I learned in my eight years as president, and in the work I have done since in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job. …

† He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful president needs. His policies on the economy, on taxes, on health care, on energy are far superior to the Republican alternatives. …

† He has shown … a clear grasp of foreign policy and national security challenges and a firm commitment to rebuild our badly strained military.

† [M]y fellow Democrats, I say to you: Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world. …

† Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.

Curiously, he did not explain how Obama has “shown” a clear grasp of foreign policy and security challenges – and if he does possess these attributes, then why does he need “Joe Biden’s experience and wisdom, supporting Barack Obama’s proven understanding, instincts, and insight, America will have the national security leadership”? [Emphasis, The Stiletto.]

Clinton could not offer any evidence to “showing” or “proving” Obama’s credentials because there is none. Saying it doesn’t make it so – no matter how many times you say it. So he reminded the delegates that he, too, was once characterized by his Repub opponent as being too young and inexperienced to be commander-in-chief and hey, it all worked out! (Um, Clinton should try telling that to the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 in the second terrorist attack on the World Trade Center – the first one having occurred six years earlier without his administration recognizing it for what it was.)

Looks like in his speech tonight, Obama’s going to have to close the sale himself with those Americans who believe McCain is the stronger leader and would make a better CIC.

Like his wife, Clinton included obligatory – and generic – attacks on Repubs and the shortcomings of the Bush administration but did not forcefully attack Obama’s opponent, John McCain (R-AZ):

The Republicans in a few days will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp. He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.

But on the two great questions of this election – how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America’s leadership in the world — he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.

As the veep nominee, it falls to Joe Biden (D-DE) to be the attack dog, and now that they are the elder statespersons of their party neither Clinton was about to get down into the mud.

Just as Clinton attributed qualifications to Obama that many voters just can’t see – dude, the emperor is buck naked and you can’t convince me otherwise – he began his speech by claiming party unity that many voters just don’t feel:

Last night, Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything she can to elect Barack Obama.

That makes two of us.

Actually, that makes 18 million of us … because, like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.  

In March, 28 percent of Clinton backers said they’d choose McCain over Obama in a Gallup daily tracking poll. In the latest USA Today/Gallup poll conducted between August 21st and August 23rd, 16 percent of registered Dems who supported Clinton in the primaries continue to say they would vote for McCain if the election were held today, with another 14 percent remaining undecided.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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