"We welcome delegates who supported Senator Clinton, and hope to create a unified delegation on the way to Denver."
Supported? Past tense? Sorry, Barack, but this is a little presumptious. I think they still support Senator Clinton - and they think they'll get a chance to vote for her. On the way to Denver? No, no, that's supposed to be on the home from Denver. If you really want a unified delegation, then you don't start by offending nearly half of the delegates in the room.
The Obama campaign may think they've got things under control. They may think there will be no roll call vote for Clinton. But those delegates who are committed to her don't think so. If Obama doesn't allow a vote for Clinton, there will be some mighty upset delegates. They would see it as a lack of respect for Hillary.
The message then goes on to tell them to fill out a Delegate survey at the Obama campaign website. Delegates have already filled out a survey for the Democratic National Committee and the Mississippi Democratic Party, but this is a different one. It's a pretty intrusive survey, asking what you do for a living, what your ethnicity is, how old you are, what union you belong to, whether you're gay, and what your religion is. What business does the Obama campaign have asking all this information about a Clinton delegate?
But it gets worse. Attached to the email was "Guidelines for Delegates Contacted by the Press." It's pretty draconian. If delegates are contacted by any member of the press, even their local press, delegates are not to say anything until they contact the Obama campaign. So if the Natchez Democrat wants to interview Everett Sanders (whom they talk to regularly) about his trip to Denver, he's supposed to ask permission first - and by email. And look at this:
"On a case by case basis, depending on the story and its goal, we may approve these interviews."
Oh, and the delegates should never contact the press directly.
You can tell these dudes are from Chicago, where Democrats are used to taking orders from the machine. But I don't think this went over very well with the Clinton delegates in Mississippi who received this email.
A few days later, another similar email was sent to "Mississippi Senator Clinton Delegates". (Funny, I always thought she was New York Senator Clinton, but maybe I missed something.) But in the body of the email, it says "Dear Alabama Senator Clinton Delegates". Oops! Well, you know how Yankees are - they can't tell one southern state from another.
These imperious emails are just not good strategy. Obama is NOT the Democratic nominee for President. A nominee is not elected until the delegates vote at the Convention. Nearly half the delegates at that Convention are committed to Clinton. They know that barring some major miracle, Obama will win the nomination. However, they expect to get a chance to vote for her. That's what they were elected to do. If that opportunity is not given to them, there will be some very hard feelings - and this will not bode well for November.
Democrats just went through an emotional, hard fought, close primary campaign. As the presumptive winner, Obama should try to win over those supporters of his rival - not only the delegates at the Convention - but those across the country. There are several things he could have done, but he has done none of them. In fact, he is treating them with disdain, as these emails demonstrate. This demeaning attitude will affect, not only the Clinton delegates, but her supporters everywhere - and it will show at the Convention for the whole world to see.
Obama has either decided he doesn't need Clinton voters or he is taking them for granted - assuming they'll have no choice but to vote for him. But they do have choices. They can choose not to vote, to vote for a third party candidate, to write in Hillary Clinton, or even, God forbid, vote for the Republican.
This is a serious miscalculation on the part of the Obama campaign. The November election is probably going to be quite close, and he is giving away a large segment of voters, most of which he could have had. All that was required was a little humility and graciousness. Maybe that's too much to ask.