I know this will not come as news to any of you, but there is something truly wrong with Maureen Dowd. She obviously wrote most of today's column before she heard the speech --- or maybe she was just in her usual demented fugue state and couldn't separate fiction from reality again. Whatever the case, this column is far more indicative of her own obsessions and commitment to the little psychodrama playing inside her head than anything approaching relevance to actual humans.
The only question is whether she still has the juice to change the narrative of last night to reflect her Bizarroworld take on events. I would say that it's even money that by the end of the week we'll be hearing certain quarters of the media parrot her, if only because the "Dems are in disarray" theme is such a compelling nursery rhyme for puerile gasbags. (And others, like Dowd, have a twisted and unhealthy obsession with Clinton and will welcome any opportunity to nurse their delicious loathing.)
Still, the consensus among the gasbags in real time appears to have been (I only got to see the replay later on CNN) that Clinton was successful and that the much anticipated spitting in Obama and his supporters' eye had not happened. Indeed, with the exception of a couple of the GOP shills, everyone agreed that she could not possibly have done any more. (But, of course, the pundits all said that Al Gore won those debates in 2000 in real time too...)
I don't know who Dowd has been talking to, but there is likely a bit of Heisenberg principle involved when it comes to the delegates. Sure, I've seen a few examples of both Clinton and Obama diehards being obnoxious. But it has been very, very rare. Unlike Dowd, nobody recognizes me and I don't spend time hanging with professional political operatives with axes to grind. I walked miles in that Pepsi center and around downtown Denver yesterday, eavesdropping on conversations of ordinary attendees and her convention is not the convention of the rank and file.
For instance, I was riding on a tram yesterday with a delegate from the midwest who was festooned with Hillary buttons. I asked her if she was excited about the speech to come and if she expected it to be controversial. She said that she hoped Hillary felt free to bask in the glory a little bit but that she knew she would come through for Obama. I asked her if she was going to vote for her in the roll call and she said she was sent there by people who voted for Clinton and she wanted to cast that vote. But she also said that as soon as he was announced the winner she was going to take off all of her Hillary buttons and put on her new collection of Obama buttons, which she pulled out of her bag to show me. I asked if she would work to get him elected and she chuckled and said, "of course I will, I'm president of the Democratic Club!"
The media see people like her as exotic birds or amusing chimps playing in the trees and consider them decoration for the real event --- the careerist posturings and gossip of the elite insider class, which they present as what these rank and file delegates --- committed Democratic activists and grassroots workers --- think about all this. For them, this is really just one big Georgetown party, displaced from "their town" by necessity in order to keep the serfs happy. The only story that interests them is the story they tell each other about themselves.
I think that Hillary's speech was quite obviously a success among Democratic voters and probably among a few Republicans who had to give her some grudging respect for simply being a good politician. Whether that translates into votes among the holdouts on the Democratic side, I don't know. (It's possible that some of those people were never voting for her, but rather voting against Obama.) But judging from the reaction in that hall last night, I would guess that rank and file supporters on both sides are ready and willing to bury the hatchet and go forward to bury McCain.
What the village gasbags like Maureen Dowd will do is equally predictable --- they will continue to tell riveting tales about themselves and their friends and call it political reporting.