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Billary -- What Has Become of Them?

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Bill Clinton is in Africa working on his HIV/AIDS initiatives. Good for him. Still it's not like he can't be in touch with the Obama campaign to say when he'll hit the hustings for the presumed Democratic nominee. (See my earlier Huffington Post about how easy it was to reach Clinton's press secretary when they were traveling in Africa, and to hear Bill's distinctive voice in the background.)

Not all is lost for Bill Clinton junkies. In the current low-road shouting match between Obama and McCain, Bill Clinton's name took center stage, put there not by Obama but by John McCain's chief handler, Steve Schmidt:

"Say whatever you want about Bill Clinton, but it's deeply unfair to suggest his criticism of Obama was race-based. President Clinton was a force for unity in this country on this subject. Every American should be proud of his record as both a governor and president."...

For Hillary diehards or PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass), for those still ignorant of the acronym's meaning, there's news this morning from the New York Daily News that the senator from New York has asked not to be nominated at the Denver convention later this month. According to reporter, Michael Saul, she would have to file a formal request to join Obama in the nomination roll call and she hasn't done so. Saul speculates that when she speaks to the convention she will formally release her delegates.

Hillary's delegates could embarrass Obama by ignoring what she says and voting for Hillary. Marc Rubin, half of the duo behind the Denver Group which has been pushing the superdelegates to switch at the convention to the more electable candidate, Hillary Clinton still expects them to do so. Rubin, who stipulates that he speaks only for himself not for the Denver Group, says that Saul's speculation that Hillary will release her delegates is "utter clap trap," as is his assertion that "she has counseled her 1,886 delegates to vote for Obama." Rubin claims to be "in touch with many delegates around the country and not one has told me that. In fact they have received only brief communications from the campaign and they have never been counseled to vote for Obama and as of now are all holding together for Clinton."

Rubin also argues that Hillary doesn't have to do anything to put her name in nomination, nothing has to be put in writing. He claims that "any delegate" could put Hillary's name in nomination, "and as long as it's seconded, her name goes into nomination." He lambastes the Daily News reporter with "jumping to his own conclusions because he is ignorant of party rules procedures....I think you will agree that it would be highly unlikely that a decision of this magnitude would first be leaked to a reporter at the Daily News.

Media reports have Hillary speaking on the Tuesday night of the convention; Wednesday is typically reserved for the vice president, so it seems that Hillary is out of the running. (The fact that she was never asked for documents means, I believe, that she was never in the race for the second spot.) Her backers are now backing away from the effort to push Obama to put her on the ticket.

In the meantime they seem to have made it impossible for Obama to select a woman as vice president for fear that it would further antagonize Hilllary backers, which has the weird effect of seeming to say that there is only one woman with the credentials to be Obama's number two. Should Obama win, that woman -- Sebelius of Kansas or Napolitano of Arizona, for example -- would be in line in 2016 to be the first female president. But not, that spot, apparently, must be reserved for Hillary.

At the same time, John McCain is reportedly looking seriously at Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. (The latter has as part of her portfolio wooing disaffected Clinton supporters to vote for McCain.)

Perhaps most revealing of how little Hillary, in the end, reaped form the brutal campaign which cost her and Bill $12 million -- more than Bill made in speeches last year -- and, to some extent, Bill's reputation -- is a push now to get her health care mandate on the party platform. (Clinton wanted health insurance for all; Obama only mandated insurance for children.) Her backers also want written recognition in the platform that sexism -- "Iron my shirt!" shouted to her at a rally is an oft-mentioned example -- played a part in her defeat. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, some Clinton supporters want words to the effect that the primary elections "exposed pervasive gender bias in the media." Furthermore, they're calling on party leaders, whom Clinton supporters claim stayed silent, to take "`immediate and public steps'" to condemn future perceived instances of bias."

Those party leaders must be quaking in their loafers.

The party platform? Do you know anyone who reads the platform or gives it a moment's thought to it post convention? I don't.

On the other hand, we haven't heard much about health insurance during the campaign. Britney Spears and whose face is on the dollar bill, yes, but coverage for the millions of uninsured, no.

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