Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and the Nomination: Yay Democracy!


Was it “HISTORY!” or “DESTINY” that Barack Obama clinched the Democratic nomination? According to our two tabloids, the answer is “both.” What is really interesting about both of these front-page banners is that they could have applied as well had Hillary Clinton managed to lock up the nomination. “HISTORY!” would have switched out “first black nominee” to “first female nominee,” while “DESTINY” would have had more of an “entitlement” connotation than that of Obama being some kind of “chosen one” for the nod. (Curiously, subway freebie AMny broke ranks with the rest of the papers and chose to put a frowning Clinton on the front, with a “LET’S MAKE A DEAL” banner.)

Each paper has multiple pages of coverage and analysis that seems to fall into two categories: What Obama Did Right and What Clinton Did Wrong. Obama scores points for his inclusive speech and cheeky hold it in St. Paul, in the very same arena that will host this year’s Republican National Convention. He preached unification of the Democratic Party and pledged to avoid “the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize” in his general election fight against John McCain. Both of the papers feature photos of a smiling Barack and Michelle Obama and splash large pull quotes from his victory speech on the pages.

The coverage of Hillary Clinton takes much more of a “tsk, tsk” tone for her refusal to officially concede the race last night. Clinton did congratulate Obama on his “accomplishments” in a speech at Baruch College last night, but she vowed to continue to fight for the policies on which she based her campaign.

Earlier in the day during a conference call, she told New York lawmakers that she’s not averse to the vice presidential slot. This bit of news is met with a sidebar on page 5 of the Daily News that shows the “Yea!” or “Nay!” about Vice President Clinton. Included in the yeas: “Unifies Dems big time,” “Mollifies her feminist fans,” and “Two fund-raising machines.” The “nays” include: “Bill Clinton,” “Kick in teeth to Obama’s ‘change’ agenda,” “Michelle Obama can’t stand her” and “Too much change at once: A woman and an African-American.”

This sidebar boils down many of the talking points about the controversies in this year’s primary contests. “Feminism” is considered a dirty word in much of this country—we need to “mollify” those angry, angry feminists—and that’s part of the reason that the “sexism” criticisms have been so poo-pooed in the political discourse. But look at one of the “nays,” about how Michelle Obama “can’t stand” Clinton: Doesn’t that just perpetuate the “cat fight” stereotype that powerful women can never get along? And the “too much change” “nay” is one that should just inspire an eye-roll, especially with all the talks of “history.”

I’m not saying that Clinton should or shouldn’t be in the veep spot. What I’m pointing out is that if there’s one thing to read and ponder in today’s papers about the Democratic contests, it just might be one or two column inches underneath a smiling and frowning Hillary that sparks the most debate. It’s certainly more productive than a picture of a pouty Gina Gershon in the election special section of the Post. (Gershon sent a cease-and-desist letter to Vanity Fair regarding an article that she says implies that she slept with Bill Clinton. The Daily News placed the info on a page devoted to other celebrity news, not in the election coverage.)

So, will Hillary heed the 3 AM phone call with the fat lady on the other end of the line, bellowing a note? (That was the cartoon in today’s Page Six.) That remains to be seen, but if the election coverage today is any indication, depending on whose words you read, Clinton either is being incredibly shrewd or egotistical and stupid. But that’s the ultimate distillation of the watchdog function of our media: we can read, weigh the facts and opinions and come to our own conclusions. It’s our “DESTINY” to create our own “HISTORY.”