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early and often

Obama Agrees to Roll-Call Vote for Clinton. Does That Make Him a Sissy?

Photos: Getty Images

If you're not planning to closely watch the Democratic National Convention (who is?), you might wind up with the impression that Hillary Clinton was the party's nominee. Both she and Bill will be giving speeches, and now it has been decided that her name will be placed into nomination and given a symbolic roll-call vote. Clinton was initially skeptical of a vote: She didn't want to receive fewer delegates than she won in the primaries, nor did she want to unnecessarily rile up her base, as the Washington Post reports. But she was eventually convinced of its merits after "meeting with her most ardent supporters." Barack Obama agreed, and the two Democratic stalwarts issued statements confirming the party's unity and their commitment to winning in November (blah-blah). But there's disagreement over Obama's decision to accede to Clinton's wishes: Was it a smart political move or an example of weakness?

• Chris Cillizza thinks it was wise of Obama to agree to the roll-call vote, since it's "always better to appear magnanimous than small." The vote also prevents the "the one major potential problem" that could ruin the convention, which "would be signs of disunity permeating the ranks of convention delegates and party officials." [Fix/WP]

• Michael Goodwin says Obama "stands guilty of appeasing Clinton by agreeing to a roll-call vote for her nomination," proof "that he's playing defense at his own convention." Obama will receive no extra support for his magnanimity, yet he appears "weak and ratifies Clinton's sense of entitlement to share party leadership and the convention spotlight." [NYDN]

• Dick Morris claims that the Clintons have managed to push Obama around "with no real leverage." This "begs the basic question: Is Barack Obama strong enough to be president?" [Pundits Blog/Hill]

• Madeleine M. Kunin, Clinton's former Vermont chair, applauds Obama's decision, because "[b]y giving Hillary Clinton her place in history, Obama has demonstrated that his key character trait — generosity of spirit — is not only admirable — it works." [HuffPo]

• An anonymous Economist blogger is skeptical that the gesture will create unity or "make many annoyed Hillary supporters much happier (or less self-righteous)." It's also hard "not to see the submission of Mrs. Clinton’s name as a sign of weakness on Mr. Obama’s part." [Democracy in America/Economist]

• John Nichols doesn't expect much more than "good theater...a little dramatic tension at an otherwise overmanaged convention." The vote will give Clinton's die-hard backers an "outlet" to "make a statement about the historic significance of a woman getting as close as the former First Lady did to the nomination and the presidency." [Beat/Nation]

• Melinda Henneberger suspects this "will not lead to the 'catharsis' [Clinton] keeps talking about, and I'm not positive that catharsis is the goal." The die-hard Clinton supporters aren't going to "wake up the morning after Hillary's name is placed in nomination and have a whole new lease on Obama. And my guess is, Hillary knows that." [XX Factor/Slate]

• Rick Klein and friends note that, while "Obama can afford to be gracious, even to [Clinton], since he'll leave Denver with the only prize that counts," the move also "ensures that the nominee's showcase event will be about something more than the nominee himself." [Note/ABC News] —Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

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