First I want to say that I'm happy to see Howard Wolfson coming forth with positive statements about our candidate, Barack Obama. In an Op-Ed in tomorrow's Post, Wolfson finally awakens to the reality of Barack Obama. That's not even my editorializing, it's the way he frames it.
Most of us never heard him speak in person. At work 14 hours a day in the war room, we focused on his perceived faults and deficiencies. Our time was spent sharpening and advancing arguments. Skepticism was critical to our efforts. Insulated from Obamamania, I met few Obama supporters and distanced myself from the ones I knew. I lived this way for 18 months.
The better stuff after the bump.
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From the outside, our loss may have seemed inevitable for months, but inside the campaign we simply kept going. Each late victory brought false hope. We were finally doing too well to stop, but never well enough to win. We fought so long because we believed so strongly in our candidate; sustained by the passions of our supporters, we hoped that, as long as we kept moving, we could keep failure at bay.
Once we ran out of states and the campaign ended, we were like Rip Van Winkle. We awoke to a world transformed by political currents we had stood against. There was the neighbor in an Obama T-shirt getting the morning paper. Every parked car on the street bore an Obama bumper sticker. Had they been there along, or did they pop up overnight?
Then came Thursday night at Invesco Field. During the campaign, we scoffed at events like this, mostly because we were not capable of producing them. A cross section of voters waited for hours to enter the stadium and take their seats. As one friend put it, it looked more like an American convention than the convention of any particular political party.
Clinton delegates greeted one another with tears and hugs and were greeted in turn by Obama delegates. Several Obama supporters took my hand to thank me for what the Clintons had said that week, urging that they stay involved in the campaign. Every so often, I would simply look around me, amazed at the significance not just of the day but of the entire campaign.
The setting raised the bar for Obama's speech. The task before him: Explain what change meant and how it would be accomplished while weaving his own biography into the fabric of America's and laying out an appropriate contrast with John McCain.
No one in recent history had attempted this kind of a political conversation with 75,000 people. Barack Obama pulled it off.
For 18 months, I listened to Obama on television, sometimes intently, often just barely -- background noise to a running series of conference calls and meetings and e-mails.
In person, my attention undivided, I saw something of what so many others had seen for so long.
I would have preferred a more direct endorsement of our Democratic candidate, but considering how strident Wolfson has sounded, this is pretty good. In fact, the throw from the WaPo home page is Howard Wolfson: Clintonites for Obama I find the column give some interesting perspective on how he formed his analysis for Fox.
Update [2008-9-1 7:40:33 by Brit]: Penn too! I just found this from Mark Penn in the NYT:
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Michele Obama and Hillary Clinton delivered a one-two punch that was followed by Bill Clinton and Joseph Biden. The four of them delivered the core message that Barack Obama detailed on the final night: we need a change. Even the on again, off again roll call vote did not in any way divide the convention and ended in a vote by acclamation.
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It was in 1996 that Democrats had a similarly unifying and optimistic message of "building a bridge to the 21st Century." And Obamaism and Clintonism came together Thursday night in Mr. Obama’s speech as a single idea for governing: a return to an activist president who will cut taxes for the middle class while cutting government waste, an optimistic president who can guide us in overcoming our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years and who will exhaust aggressive diplomacy before resorting to the use of force. The theme of renewing the promise of America was actually the theme that Hillary used in her first speeches in Iowa, and that both she and Mr. Obama wound up sharing during the primary campaign. And just like Bill Clinton who talked incessantly about opportunity, community and responsibility, Mr. Obama also put personal responsibility at the core of renewing the promise of the country. Barack Obama left few bases uncovered, but was careful to play down divisive messages.
In issue after issue he sought to find the middle ground and bring people together around solving them rather than dividing them. His latest ads end with the slogan: put the "middle class first." And so the buses have left Denver with Mr. Obama and the Clintons on the same page, with the party enthusiastically supporting its nominees, and all united behind a largely centrist agenda that goes to the everyday concerns of most Americans angry with the Bush administration. For McCain, this was one tough convention to follow.
I still don't forgive Penn for his abysmal 'strategy', I believe that he deserves the brunt of the blame for Hillary's loss. Still, it's good to see the most pugnacious figures at the top of the HRC team publicly displaying their party stripes.