Their aspirations to elect their candidate to the corner office took an increasingly divisive tone over the past weeks. Sen. Clinton unconsciously connected her rival to a presidential candidate assassinated while campaigning in the month of June (Robert Kennedy), and her campaign charged that the Obama campaign had a gun to her head to force her to quit the race.
Talk about politics as a blood sport. How does a Hillary Clinton loyalist line up behind her nemesis?
From a psychological perspective, the answer to that question is: Not right away and not necessarily shoulder-to-shoulder.
Clinton supporters will need a little time to let the final chapters of their candidate's campaign echo in their minds. They'll need to grieve the loss of what looked like a sure thing and which has the language of death so closely associated with it.
They'll need to date the political process for a little while before falling in love again - with the real potential to advance their ideas, if not their candidate.
To rush this process would be to short-circuit it. The wounds inflicted by each candidate on the other are too deep. They can't be magically healed with a photo op or a raised hand.
Pretending Clinton support translates in a wholesale way to Obama needlessly inserts falsehood into a movement that all of us, regardless of our politics, would have to admit is fueled by passion.
Hatred of John McCain will not immediately galvanize Democrats into a united force. McCain is, simply put, hard to hate. The most unsympathetic of biographers would not question his patriotism or bravery or character or commitment.
Not even Obama choosing Clinton for his running mate would bridge the psychological divide here. That would create the immediate specter of a dysfunctional marriage in need of emergent counseling. It would look and feel like a shotgun wedding. And there's that image of a gun again. Best to steer clear.
No. This will take a little time. And giving voice to that fact, actually verbalizing the idea that Clinton supporters can gravitate into Obama's orbit, not rocket there, is the best way that Democrats can make it happen, in due time.
Dr. Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel. He is the author of
Living the Truth: Transform Your Life Through the Power of Insight and Honesty. Visit his Web site at
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.