Chuck Todd makes an observation Monday night that many of his colleagues fail (or refuse to) acknowledge: That the influence of the PUMA crowd is greatly exaggerated, and the Republicans have their own "PUMA problem" with Ron Paul and his supporters.
"I think what's happening is we're in our Denver bubble. There's 1/3 of the Democratic establishment here who would be big time players had Clinton won, and they can stoke this a little. The McCain campaign is stoking this, releasing this ad. And there is a small core group, but I think they have a louder voice than they do a volume of numbers. So, look, I think we're gonna look back in a few days and say 'these PUMAs are really no different than these Ron Paul folks that we're gonna run into in St. Paul.'"
(Nicole) While it's nice to see Todd employ a little balance given that his network indulged freely in their Hillary Derangement Obsession and could not go five minutes nor a single guest without asking about Hillary Clinton (don't get me started on Chris Matthews--his record was 45 seconds without a Hillary question), he truly wasn't being honest about the PUMA phenomenon. These PUMA detractors aren't Democrats, no matter how badly the media wants to drag this out and create these fantasy dramas. The PUMA operation is very clearly a GOP game as much as Operation Chaos:
PUMA (originally "Party Unity My A**" and now officially a more sedate "People United Means Action") was one of the original angry Hillary groups. Started by Darragh Murphy and depending on whose story you read Will Bowers, PUMA fed on the anger over the actions of the Democratic National Committee over the Florida and Michigan delegations. The PUMA PAC website features a graphic that now says "Obama National Committee" rather than Democratic National Committee.
As Amanda at Pandagon discovered, Murphy donated money to McCain in 2000. She has never donated money to Clinton. Disenfranchised Clinton supporter? I don't think so. And Rumproast has documented how the PUMAs have sought to make themselves sound much larger and more organized than they are. 60 of them about to take charge of the convention? Not bloody likely.
Fact: Many in the press have portrayed Clinton's planned convention address, as well as the fact that her name is being placed into nomination, as an unprecedented, heavy-handed power grab.
Fact: It's not. In years past, Democratic candidates who won lots of primaries and accumulated hundreds of delegates (sorry, Howard Dean and Bill Bradley) have always been allowed to address the convention and very often place their name into nomination. It's the norm. It's expected. It's a formality.
This newly manufactured media attack on Clinton is just the latest in a long line of press grenades thrown her way this year. But this time, she's not the only victim, because the media's concocted story line is being used to unfairly skewer Barack Obama, too.
So to the C&Lers still wanting to get your Hillary-hate on...think about it. This is not coming from Hillary Clinton. Hell, the RNC held a "Happy Hour with Hillary" party without her last night. This is all about GOP operatives fomenting disunity in the party (and their buddies in the media only too happy to go along to get a more interesting coverage) and using you to do it. PUMA = GOP = Operation Chaos. PUMA ≠ Hillary Clinton. Don't give the GOP the satisfaction of watching their plans succeed.
UPDATE: Anecdotal evidence supporting what I've said from Todd at MyDD:
Hillary delegates are not happy. I ran into a woman as I was entering the hard perimeter on my way into the Pepsi Center collecting signatures to a new petition demanding a public roll call. As she told me:
We circulated the 300 petition to get Hillary a roll call vote and they gave it to us but now they're trying to nullify it...They want everyone to do a ballot at breakfast, turn it in behind closed doors. We believe all the people who voted for Hillary should be represented.
This is the same sentiment I heard from Hillary delegates at the California delegation breakfast this morning, particularly Gloria Allred, who was protesting having been "gagged" from organizing a gathering of Hillary delegates and from speaking at the California delegation. What she said she wants is for every Hillary delegate to be able to vote for her on the first ballot. The reason she intends to vote for Hillary: she represents thousands of Hillary voters and she owes it to them. But also, she feels it is her obligation per DNC rules. Whatever the technicalities of it, every Hillary delegate I spoke to expressed the desire to vote for her, to express their support for her, but not to the exclusion of supporting Barack Obama ultimately. This is what most "Democrats in disarray" storylines don't seem to get. These delegates are excited to support Barack Obama, they're all for him, but they want the opportunity to vote for her publicly and they see some sexism in the prohibition from being able to do so (why no roll call vote for Hillary when it's been done before.)