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June 7th, 2008:

It’s unity time

I have two things to say about this story concerning some still-existing divisions within the Democratic Party after Hillary Clinton’s exit from the Presidential race.

Obama clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, and Clinton is supposed to endorse him today in Washington, D.C.

But the wounds of their bruising battle were still obvious at the Texas convention, even though delegates spoke of the need to come together against presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain in the November election.

In the March Texas primaries, Clinton carried 60-69 percent of the Hispanic vote and more than 55 percent of the vote in rural white areas of the state. Obama carried urban black areas by more than 60 percent of the vote.

Many Clinton delegates Friday said they will not be satisfied unless Obama gives Clinton the vice presidential nomination or something of importance in his Cabinet.

“It would be totally awesome if Senator Obama would pick her as a vice president. We would really win hands down,” said Rosalinda Pena Hinojosa of San Antonio.

Denise Barbour, an anglo Clinton delegate from Lubbock, said Obama doesn’t have to name Clinton as his running mate to suit her, but she wants to make certain Clinton has an important role in an Obama administration.

“I want Hillary to be at the table. To not do so is to dismiss all of us. That’s the feeling,” Barbour said. “What’s going to happen to us? Is our voice going to be carried on?”

Jack Whittington, 22, a delegate from Lubbock and recent graduate of Texas Tech University, said Obama will need to work harder to get rural people to vote for him in Texas and elsewhere in the country.

“Either he himself is going to have to change his strategy to reach out to those people or he’s going to have to bring in a vice presidential nominee who can do that for him,” Whittington said.

Whittington said he believes Obama also will have trouble getting some white voters to cast ballots for him.

“People are still stuck in a 1950s frame of mind. That’s something he’ll have trouble overcoming. I’m not sure he can overcome that,” Whittington said.

Nolen Holcomb, 68, a Clinton supporter from Abilene, said he doesn’t want to see Clinton as Obama’s running mate.

“We think she may be more powerful as a person in the Senate or as a Cabinet member or even a Supreme Court judge,” Holcomb said.

“That’s why the Hillary folks are sticking together and not giving up on our support of her because we believe she has a major role to play in the new administration.”

Clinton supporter Mike Martinez of Fort Worth said some Clinton supporters will be slow to embrace Obama.

“When you work so hard for a candidate, it’s awfully difficult to let go right away,” Martinez said. “A great majority of the Hispanic supporters will jump over and support Obama actively. I just don’t know about some of her supporters because they are so passionate and so endearing of her. For some, it might take several months until some of these folks come around.”

I’m already seeing plenty of signs of people moving past the primary and on to the general election. Most of the Clinton supporters I know were, very much to their credit, doing that as soon as the initial reports of her suspending the campaign were hitting the ‘nets. While there will be some lingering emotions – perfectly understandable in such a close, hard-fought contest – I think the fact that Hillary Clinton herself will stop making a case for herself and will start making a case for Barack Obama will make a world of difference. People followed her lead when she was running to be the candidate, and they’ll follow her lead now that she’s supporting the candidate who’s running. Some people will need more than that, and some people will never really be convinced, but I feel very optimistic about this. I think in a few weeks’ time, we’ll have forgotten most of what we were fighting about in the first place. There’s nothing like a common goal to get people on the same page.

I also wonder if, when the Republicans get together for their convention, we’ll see stories about how John McCain still has some work to do to convince members of his own party to unite behind him. McCain’s been the nominee since March, yet he’s had a hard time getting more than 75% of the vote running basically unopposed in his primaries. Ron Paul supporters aren’t going anywhere, and the likes of Richard Viguerie are sounding an alarm about McCain’s conservative credentials. Yet somehow it’s the Democrats who are divided. Maybe that was true before this week, but it won’t be so much longer. Will the story line change with that, or will it be more of the same through November?

All I want for election season

Mere words cannot hope to capture the awesomeness of this (via Julie Mason:

Former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) called Barack Obama a “Marxist” on the Mike Gallagher radio show Thursday.

Explaining that Obama clinching the Democratic nomination is a good thing for John McCain, DeLay said Obama’s “weakness” is that “nobody knows him.”

“And if McCain does not define him as what he is — hey, I have said publicly, and I will again, that unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist,” DeLay said.

The radio host agreed with DeLay, who is facing money laundering charges, saying Obama is “desperately trying to cover up what seems to be the kind of old school Marxist radical liberal failed ideology.”

“Absolutely,” DeLay said. “No doubt about it.”

Dear Jesus,

Please, pretty please, do everything in your considerable power to ensure that Tom DeLay keeps getting his name in the paper, his voice on the radio, and his face on teevee from now through November 4. I promise to be a good boy and eat all my vegetables in return if you do. Thank you very much.

Your friend,

Charles

(PS – Be sure to read the comments – they’re pretty awesome, too.)

It’s hard out there for a pickup

These are tough times for pickup trucks.

The pickup truck’s ride as the dominant vehicle on the American roads has come to an end.

For the first time in 16 years, a pickup is not the best-selling vehicle in the monthly industry sales report. Not one, but four cars — Toyota’s Corolla and Camry and Honda’s Accord and Civic — outsold the stalwart Ford-150 in the May sales report. The last time that happened was December 1992, when the Ford Taurus topped the F-series.

“It’s a sign of the times,” said George Pipas, U.S. sales analysis manager for Ford. “I was convinced and several others of us were convinced that this would be a watershed month.”

There’s a country/western song in that, I just know it.

Toyota, which invested $1.3 billion in a Tundra plant and supplier park in San Antonio, saw sales of its full-size pickup truck fall 31.5 percent in May from a year earlier.

“Given current market conditions, we know we’re facing challenges in this segment,” said Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota Division. “All of our previous assumptions are off the table.”

[…]

“One month doesn’t necessarily mean a fundamental change in the entire industry,” Carter said. “We’re seeing some segment declines. Most of the consumers are reporting that fuel prices and housing are the primary factors as to why they’re changing their buying patterns.”

Carter said Toyota expects that once market conditions improve and the housing industry starts to pick up in 2009 and 2010, the demand for trucks will increase.

“The core buyer of a full-size pickup can’t substitute with a Corolla,” he said. “We know a core group of those buyers are delaying their purchases right now. We remain, in the long term, confident of where the full-size pickup truck is going.”

There’s two types of pickup drivers in the world: Those who drive them because they need to, and those who don’t need to but drive them anyway. The former group is going to be pretty stable, the latter one less so. Which is fine by me – the fewer cowboy/cowgirl wannabees out there menacing the streets, the better. Bring on the Corollas, I say.

Washington Avenue in a nutshell

Washington avenue is a strange and rapidly changing mix of old working-class development, much with a strong Hispanic flavor, and new high-end condos and townhomes aimed mostly at urban hipsters and wannabees. I think this picture captures all that:

I’ve driven past this little taqueria and its imposing new neighbors a bunch of times, and figured I’d better document it before someone buys the land the taqueria is on for more townhomes. One of these days I’ll get around to doing a photo essay on the state of Washington Avenue today, much like I did with Montrose/Studemont. That way, when I want to tell my girls about how things used to be around here, I can show them as well.