The Rashomon Campaign*
There will be no unity for Democrats this year. That's the cold hard truth. It hit me while I was reading this piece of crap by John Judis:
Clinton's second great political mistake lay in how she dealt with Obama's challenge. Sometime in December, having realized that Obama was going to be a genuine rival for the nomination, she and her campaign decided to go negative on him. They did the usual thing politicians do to each other: They ran attack ads taking his words somewhat out of context (Obama calling Reagan a "transformative politician"); they somewhat distorted old votes (voting "present" in Illinois on abortion bills); and they questioned old associations (Obama's connection with real estate developer Tony Rezko).
John McCain and Mitt Romney were doing similar things to each other--and Obama did some of it to Clinton, too. But there a was difference between her doing this to Obama and McCain's doing it to Romney--a difference that eluded Clinton, her husband, and her campaign staff. My friend David Kusnet, Bill Clinton's former speechwriter, explained the difference to me by citing what ex-heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson had once said about Muhammad Ali. "I was just a fighter," Patterson had said, "but he was history." Obama, too, was, and is, history--the first viable African-American presidential candidate. Yes, Hillary Clinton was the first viable female candidate, but it is still different. Race is the deepest and oldest and most bitter conflict in American history--the cause of our great Civil War and of the upheavals of the 1950s and '60s. And if some voters didn't appreciate the potential breakthrough that Obama's candidacy represented, many in the Democratic primaries and caucuses did--and so did the members of the media and Obama's fellow politicians. And as Clinton began treating Obama as just another politician, they recoiled and threw their support to him.
I was going to analyze the Kinsley gaffe committed by Judis, but Bob Somerby has already done that eloquently. But reading the comment thread to the Judis piece made me realize that we can't even agree on what has happened in this campaign.
I spent several years in family law, and it not unusual for opposing pleadings to describe events so differently that except for the names, you would think it was too completely separate cases. That's exactly what is going on now in the Democratic party. We are a family being divided, and we can't even agree on why.
Each side includes a candidate and their respective supporters. Each side has a mutually exclusive view of the candidates, the supporters and the events that have taken place.
There is virtually no common ground between the sides, save the goal of defeating John McCain and winning the White House in November.
To hear the Obama side tell it, Hillary is evil, her supporters are racists, and she has run a dirty and racist campaign. On the other hand, Hillary supporters believe Obama is the one running the dirty campaign, playing the race card and dogwhistling to his sexist cult member supporters.
The two sides can both look at multiple-angles of the same event on video and see completely different things. One side sees a scratch, the other side sees a bird being flipped.
How can there be unity in this circumstance? The two sides are diametrically opposed. This isn't about who has the better plan for health care reform, or which candidate will end the war.
I know what I have seen and heard during this campaign, and it conflicts with what the opposing side claims. I choose to believe my lying eyes and ears.
UPDATE: To clarify my point, imagine you are Dr. Phil and you have been appointed to facilitate reconciliation of the party.
Can it be done, and how?
*h/t zuzu for the new title