THE BLOG

Michelle and Jill: The Buddy Flick We Need

09/29/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

After the testimonials of everyday people concluded, and the acceptance speech by an extraordinary presidential candidate reached its last line, one of the most arresting images from last night's festivities at Denver's Mile High Stadium appeared almost as a post-script. But when Michelle Obama and Jill Biden stood in a prolonged embrace, and then held hands on the stadium stage, we saw a game-changing image: a rare glimpse of friendship and cooperation between a black and white woman.

A week that started out with great tension between women in the Democratic party ended with everybody having performed the rites required for a unifying convention: From the convention stage, both Barack and Michelle Obama gave Hillary Clinton props for her historic campaign. The Obama campaign permitted a roll call vote to proceed so that Clinton supporters could enter her name into nomination. Clinton stopped the roll call after its symbolic value had been established, and urged her supporters to nominate Obama by acclamation. Bill Clinton took the stage that night, as Hilary Clinton had the night before, to proclaim "the Clintons" support for Obama.

It led to a phenomenal end, with the party embracing, as a whole, the Obama candidacy, and the convention women's caucus enthusiastically cheering Michelle Obama yesterday morning. It's a good start, but that's what it is: a start. Unity may have been achieved as a made-for-TV moment, but real healing will take time and tender care.

Throughout the week of the Democratic National Convention, we heard from women who were Hillary Clinton supporters and women who had counted themselves as Barack Obama supporters from early in the primary season. Feelings continue to run deep among those Clinton supporters who think Obama skipped a few steps on his climb to the national arena, as well as amid those Obama supporters still smarting from the blows of a bruising campaign.

Though the divisions did not always break along racial lines, they did often enough. Another common dividing line was generational. Displaying what appears to be real affection between them, Michelle Obama, age 44, and Jill Biden, age 57, together present a portrait of what real unity could look like.

They come from vastly different circumstances, yet have much in common. Michelle Obama, whose father was a pump operator for the City of Chicago, and Jill Biden, whose father was a banker in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County (one of the nation's wealthiest), are both highly educated women who know the struggle of balancing family with the day job. Both were raised by stay-at-home mothers. Biden has a doctorate, Obama a law degree. Both women manage demanding and prestigious careers while acting in traditional roles in support of their husbands' political careers.

The sight of the two together expresses an idea critical not just to the Obama-Biden campaign, but to the healing of the party: that despite our differences -- even disparities in class and racial privilege -- we are truly in this life, this nation, this world together.

In the interest of truly healing the Democratic party and the women's movement, we urge Michelle Obama and Jill Biden to hit the road together for the general election campaign. Working together in such an obvious way, they would demonstrate the Obama campaign's concerns for the health of the nation beyond November 4th. And what a powerful symbol to send to our nation's daughters, to see a black woman and a white woman working side by side, in common cause.

It's hard to imagine a better buddy flick for today's women, and the girls who will follow in their footsteps.