Marc Steiner with more on the Hillary divide…

Well, it is the day after Hillary’s speech. She did what she was supposed to do, encouraging her supporters to come out and vote for Barack Obama. It was a stirring speech.
While she was unequivocal in her support and insistence that John McCain not be given the Presidency she did not do anything to renounce the negative pronouncements she made about Obama during the primary.

That not withstanding, Hillary Clintons non-keynote keynote, if it was act, was a damn good act.

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Her PUMA supporters do not appear assauged at the moment. What’s PUMA? It is a slightly derisive depiction of the most die-hard Hillary supporters that stands for Party Unity My Ass. I think this goes a lot deeper than many realize and has complex reasons that go back to the divide between early suffragettes and abolitionists. Most things have their historical roots. And progressives, radicals and reformers do have a tendency to eat their young.

Still, I think, as Tom Schaller, Salon columnist and UMBC political science professor, said in an interview with me this morning, that most of them will come into the fold come Election Day.

But Bill Clinton’s decision not to be in Denver on Thursday night when Barack Obama accepts the nomination at Ivesco stadium seems to once more prove this is about the Clintons and nothing but the Clintons.
The reality is that there was no conspiracy. Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean did not conspire to give the election to Obama. The Clintons (yes, plural) lost this election on their own. They had more money and were 30 points up in the polls. They squandered their money on old-fashioned techniques, like direct mail fundraising. Hillary Clinton’s organization was dysfunctional from the top down. Hillary and Bill ranted and raved at staff and their campaign went into panic after the initial Obama surge. They were not prepared and did not know what hit them. They lost control of the party to a new vision and broadening base. They won’t give up easily.

For the sake of the right to choose, ending this war in Iraq, getting health care to citizens and leaving room for populists and progressives to join the debate, ardent Democrats are hoping that party leadership will get their act together by November.

-Marc Steiner