Senior Correspondent

Daily Final Call Coverage from the DNC Convention

WASHINGTON ( – As the Democratic Party heads into its presidential nominating convention in Denver Aug. 25 under the banner of party unity–“One Nation: Americans Coming Together for Change”–the campaign of presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), appears “flawed” and “weak” in the view of some political scientists because of concessions made to the losing campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and to former President Bill Clinton.

Further, there is a conspicuous absence of Black speakers in the primetime line-up; there is no one scheduled to articulate the “clear vision of the Black community;” and despite the fact that there are two Muslims serving in the U.S. Congress, and an unprecedented caucus of Muslim delegates attending the convention from all over the country supporting Sen. Obama, Islamic representatives are also conspicuous by their absence from featured appearances.


“Party unity, which is what this is all about,” Dr. Ronald Walters, a noted professor of political science at the University of Maryland, told The Final Call. “The operative word is ‘flaws,’ ” said Dr. Walters. “One has to do with (Sen.) Hilary Clinton and her name being put in nomination, and her and (former President) Bill (Clinton) speaking at the time that they’re speaking,” he said of their separate primetime appearances.

“And the other flaw has to do with who will speak for Blacks. I don’t think that’s been decided right now. And the proposal I’m making is that there be (the Rev.) Jesse (Jackson) or (the Rev.) Al (Sharpton), somebody with a clear vision of the Black community, and a strong demand that we be included in the public policy agenda,” Dr. Walters continued.

“As we go into this, those are the two things that are problematic for this whole push for party unity,” he said.

While Sen. Obama’s wife, attorney Michelle Obama, his brother-in-law Craig Robinson; and his sister Dr. Maya Saetoro-Ng; as well as House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), are all listed, there were no other Blacks in the line-up of primetime headliners released by the Democratic National Committee, at Final Call presstime.

The question of the Clinton nomination and a roll call of the delegates–rather than a concession by the Clinton camp and the nomination of Sen. Obama by acclamation–is the issue that concerns most observers.

“I still don’t get the Clintons,” Dr. David Bositis, senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies told The Final Call. “I never was big on the Clintons to begin with, especially after Bill had his problems with Monica (Lewinsky). It was Black leadership and African Americans who saved his presidency, and he all but acknowledged it.

“This thing with the roll call vote and all of these ex-post-facto reasons why–old catharsis, and this and that–I don’t entirely get that,” Dr. Bositis continued. “I’m not conspiracy-minded, you know, ‘Hillary wants Obama to lose so that she can become the nominee in 2012,’ because I don’t think she would be the nominee in 2012. She had her shot.

“I have a lot of confidence in Obama’s people as managers, nobody is in their league, but it bothers me that there are still these Hillary fanatics, especially feminists, which I totally don’t get since John McCain’s record on feminist issues is worse than George Bush’s. Because McCain isn’t even a ‘compassionate conservative,’ and Bush never made randy comments about his wife or called his wife names.

“So, I’d rather that wasn’t going to be some feature of the convention. But, like I said, I do have confidence in Obama’s people that they’re going to manage things. So I think on balance things are probably going to go well,” said Dr. Bositis.

Other scholars are not as confident in the Obama campaign strategy since he clinched the number of delegates needed for the nomination. “I agree wholeheartedly that it looks very, very weak,” Dr. Wilmer Leon, professor of political science at Howard University told The Final Call concerning the Clinton nomination and roll call in Denver.

“The thing that concerns me: I wonder if Sen. Obama is making the same mistake in August that Sen. Kerry made during the 2004 election–taking August off,” he said of the Obama family vacation in Hawaii that ended Aug. 15. “Now is not the time for you to have taken yourself out of the spotlight and off of the front page. That to me could prove to be a mistake,” said Dr. Leon.

The Muslim political leaders, conflicted since 2001 over which party treats Muslims as “the lesser of the world’s evils” appears to have been intentionally downgraded. Despite the fact that the Islamic population in the U.S. is roughly equal to that of the American Jewish population, at approximately 6 million (about three percent each of the total), there are no Islamic speakers, and no Muslims offering either the opening invocation or the closing benediction, according to a Democratic National Committee press release touting the convention’s: “First-Ever Faith Caucus Meetings.”

Islamic clergy have offered the opening invocations at proceedings of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

Only two Islamic representatives–Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America and Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali of the Northeast Denver Islamic Center–are official participants in any convention activities. They are scheduled to participate in a crowded afternoon “interfaith gathering” which will be held Sunday, Aug. 24, inside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, the day before the convention begins.

Another irony, there are already two Muslim representatives serving in Congress: Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) make up a potential “Muslim Congressional Caucus,” which is equal to the number of Muslim leaders invited to participate in the entire convention.