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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Time to Get Off the Stage, Hillary

Obama08

I didn't go to the Dem Party celebration at the Albuquerque Convention Center last night because I've been to a few where the tense excitement morphed into achey depression as too many losses scrolled across the tv screens. Even the balloons and cheese platters didn't help. I couldn't take another one like that, although it turned out to be just the opposite this time. Wonderful wins for so many I supported.

But last night I wanted to watch Hillary Clinton give her concession speech in prime time and start applying her clout to unifying the Party behind our candidate. I wanted to take in every nuance of Barack Obama stepping up to the podium in victory, making history in an arena full of faces showing amazement at the audacity of of the achievement. He did it. We did it. We won, against all odds. But it was not to be. In a petulant and selfish display of I, me, mine, Hillary refused to concede. And even though Obama gave another shining, spinetingling speech, Clinton's reality-challenged spectacle in New York managed to drain more than a bit of the dazzle from a night that should have been all Barack, and all unity.

I will never forgive her and I don't think any Dem worth his or her salt should ever forgive her either. To call her performance classless and without grace is to put it mildly.

Hillary Wants ...
The word is that she's angling for ... something. She claimed she just wants to make sure all those "invisible" people she alone represents (according to her, anyway) get the respect they deserve. Right. And how does SHE respect these folks? By asking them to dig into their already picked pockets and cough up more dough to pay her campaign debts. She's that shameless.

The Clintons earned, what is it, $129 MILLION dollars since Bill left office? And she's hounding her vaunted working class base for more money to pay for the delusional ego trip she's been on for months -- despite no reasonable chance of winning. Oh she's a champion of the down and out, isn't she?

I've long had problems with the DLC-brand of pseudo-Democratic politics triangulated by the Clintons. I've long resented how they've mocked Howard Dean and activists and the 50-state strategy. But now I've lost all respect for them. Every iota of respect.

No Way
Clinton's campaign has been leaking nonstop about her interest in the VP slot. I hope Obama has the sense and the strength not to bite. Can you imagine the clearly vindictive and spotlight-addicted duo playing second fiddle to Obama? No, I can't either. The specter of Bill and Hillary on the campaign trail or in the White House again -- haunting Obama -- is now beyond distasteful after last night's delusion-fest in New York. The Clintons have now officially jumped the shark. Hey Hillary, time to get off the stage. The votes are in. And you lost.

Do the Right Thing
And if Hillary won't do what's right for our candidate and our Party, she should be hounded out of the picture by every Dem with an ounce of clout. Now. Right now.

I'm glad to see that Tom Udall endorsed Obama, as did 17 others so far today. Now it's time for the rest of the Dem leadership to be brave and tell Hillary exactly what she needs to do to start rallying the Party around Obama. Enough is enough. Perhaps most importantly, Hillary's supporters need to give her the news. Finally, some are.

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June 4, 2008 at 01:50 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, 2008 Presidential Primary, Democratic Party | Permalink

Comments

I want to contrast Hillary's shameless behavior with that of Michelle Lujan-Grisham, who did not win last night but who campaigned with honesty and integrity. Clinton has not only lost my respect, she's earned my contempt.

On the other hand, Lujan-Grisham has earned my respect, admiration, and support in her next campaign. That's what happens when a candidate runs a respectful primary campaign but doesn't manage to win.

Hillary could have been Obama's veep (Heaven forbid!). Now she'll get squat, not even my attention. What math-savvy observers have known for 4 months is now official. Obama won and Clinton lost. It's long since time for her to STFU and go away, not that she's listened to reason for years...

Posted by: Proud Democrat | Jun 4, 2008 2:57:28 PM

I'll forgive her.

Once she endorses him and fades quietly in the background, only to come back when she is needed to stump for him.

Posted by: Matt | Jun 4, 2008 3:05:27 PM

I agree about Michelle. She's got a lot going for her and I hope she runs for another office. M.E. and I keep telling her she should run for mayor or city council. Imagine.

Matt - I'm not sure if I even trust her anymore to stump for Obama. I know if she's anywhere near Obama, he should have a food tester on hand ...

Posted by: barb | Jun 4, 2008 3:18:42 PM

I agree with "proud democrat" and, despite having once been a Hillary supporter, am disgusted with her actions (or lack thereof.)
What do you think about Janet Napolitano as a potential running mate for Obama? This came up in a conversation today and I stood back... not sure but I do think she's got some very good points to her abilities.
I interested to read your take on it.
Cheers!

Posted by: Natalie | Jun 4, 2008 4:28:14 PM

It is a bit dramatic not to "forgive" Clinton for not conceding when every journalist was aware before the speech that she did not intend to concede. This is not about you. This is about negotiating. She will concede because she has lost! Let her and Obama do what they have to do to ensure that her 18 million votes transfer to him and we win the election in November.

Posted by: Kste Stone | Jun 4, 2008 5:20:27 PM

I have been as guilty as anybody when it comes to stating absolutes (e.g., I think I've said I'm moving to Europe if X Republican wins about 8 times over the last 20 years...still haven't done it), but maybe use of terms like "never forgive" are a bit hasty here.

I agree that Sen. Clinton showed no class last night. What gets me more than anything is her complete inability to sense the historic importance of these events.

So instead of acknowledging how great it is that a woman was just eclipsed by an African-American to become a major party nominee for U.S. President, Hillary just spends the historic night begging for $40m.

At the same time, my guess is that the overwhelming preponderance of those aghast at Sen. Clinton's behavior in the last 48 hours (okay, maybe 12 weeks is closer) will cut her some slack as she positively, somewhat from afar (and definitely farther than a VP slot) unifies the 99% of Clinton supporters who will end up voting for Obama.

We'll most probably think back to this historic primary race rather fondly, focusing on the truly nation-changing positives instead of the amazing petulance and political tone deafness exhibited last night.

Especially if Obama kicks McCain's ass. Let's get it on...

Posted by: scot | Jun 4, 2008 6:22:33 PM

The thing people don't get is Hillary has 18 million staunch supporters. Even though Obama really had the nomination WON and sealed after the Texas primary......people still stayed behind Hillary and voted for her in rout numbers in Pennsylvania, West VA, Kentucky, Puerto Rico, and South Dakota. For whatever reason.....even though the race has been decided since March......Hillary supporters are NOT getting the memo. IMHO.....this is Obama biggest fear when it comes to November.

If people want Hillary to disappear from politics.....that is a fair opinion to have....HOWEVER......be weary that that comes at a cost----->it will cost 18 million voters(or realistically a good percentage of that).

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 4, 2008 8:33:20 PM

I knew there'd come a day when we disagreed about SOMEthing, Barb.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this has been the most closely-contested primary in my lifetime, and maybe longer. I didn't see all of HRC's speech last night, but I found it inspiring. There was, in what I saw, no denial of reality. There may have been little or no acknowledgment of the fact that Obama had sealed the nomination, but there was no denial of that fact. The things she stated that one could take as partisan–her winning of 18 million votes, her desire that her supporters not be made to feel invisible–were carefully stated: I heard proportion and a measured sense that she had not used before when she was still jockeying for position. I was disappointed that she didn't concede last night, but I got the feeling that she would, sooner rather than later. (I said this to a skeptical friend at lunch before it was announced that HRC would concede on Saturday.) And she touched on the big issues–Iraq, health care, the environment, etc.– that she and Obama and every other Democrat hold as common values.

Given the fact that she is the first viable woman candidate EVER, in the closest primary contest EVER (unless I'm wrong), and given the fact that she kept winning states by BIG margins, right up to last night . . . well, it seems fair that she would take a few days to savor how close she came, to take the time to thank her staff and supporters, and to make whatever overtures she wanted to make to Obama's people. I see no reason why she should have stopped campaigning before this. While I don't support her candidacy, and don't often say Clinton and principled in the same sentence, I think her persistence IS principled in this case. If Gore or Kerry had shown such tenacity . . .

Now is the time to be gracious, and to let our opponent save face. What do we lose by doing so? We will all gain thereby. I am hugely proud that our party has chosen the first African American nominee for President. I wish it didn't have to be at the expense of the first viable woman candidate. I hope that, as I've lived to see America choose its first black presidential nominee, I will live to see it choose its first woman nominee. I am glad Hillary didn't get the nomination. But half of all Democrats in the country are now as sorely disappointed as many of us were when the Dean candidacy ended, and we need to reach out to those Democrats and Independents with respect, compassion and a desire to work together to raise America to a higher level.

In Obama's speech at the last National Democratic Convention, he talked about there being no red or blue America: there is a United States of America. Step one of our job at helping Obama make that a reality, IMHO, is to extend an olive branch to Hillary's supporters and their favored candidate. When we've done that, we can begin making overtures to Independents and even moderate Republicans, and looking for ways to rebuild this wounded, damaged country.

Posted by: Ms. Ann Thrope | Jun 4, 2008 11:39:46 PM

Maybe you missed it Ms. Thrope (!!) as you said you didn't see the whole speech, but the always awful Terry McAuliffe, who has been bashing Dean and activists and lamenting that big Dem donors aren't given proper limousine service by Dean, introduced Hillary as the next president of the United States as she entered the hall for her speech.

As one writer characterized it today, Clinton then proceeded to usurp Obama's rightful moment claiming his victory on the national stage with a long-winded stump speech containing veiled threats that she'll take her ball (her voters) and go home if she doesn't get the treatment she demands.

It is up to the loser to concede to the winner and convince his or her supporters to drop their former loyalty and support the nominee. When Dean was treated so horribly by fellow Dems and the media and many of us, as his supporters, felt badly wounded, Kerry didn't reach out to us in the sense that's being discussed, to calm our emotions. It was up to Dean to do that.

Almost immediately Dean was in contact saying it was essential for the good of the Party and the country that we support Kerry. Just as Hillary supporters are saying now, many Dean supporters were urging him to run as an Independent or keep things going in some way, and were pledging never to vote for Kerry. Unlike Hillary, he shut down that talk by explaining how damaging that would be to our real cause - changing the government.

Hillary, on the other hand, urged her supporters to go to her website (give money) and suggest what her next steps should be. She obviously knew this would prompt more handwringing about being "cheated" and negativity towards our nominee. It was irresponsible and divisive.

Now we have to hear about Hillary "earning" the right to a VP slot, even from our own Lt. Gov. This is not a parliamentary system. The losing party or candidate earns nothing by running a close race and coming in second.

As for the 18 million voters, even as I'm writing this that total is significantly down as many, many people have faced reality and moved on to the general election phase. What makes Hillary think that everyone who voted for her in the primaries and caucuses is still there willing to support her despite the fact she lost? I know that her latest actions are meant to encourage that kind of "loyalty" but, as in pretty much every past election, the vast majority of Dems will support the nominee. I had to hold my nose tightly to support Kerry, but I did it. I volunteered for his campaign and voted for him. That's what Hillary should be telling her supporters to do.

And Kate - how does it make it more forgiveable that Hillary didn't concede with grace and class that night because journalists knew about it beforehand? It's the action that's unforgiveable, regardless of whether her intents were leaked beforehand.

My reactions to Hillary's boorish behavior ARE about me, obviously. They're my feelings. I'm certainly aware she's trying to negotiate, but to do so in a manner that aimed to steal the thunder from Obama's win that night, and to try and manipulate her supporters to stay with her as negotiating chips, is not to be commended in my view. Her actions are all about the Clinton's ambitions and their attempt to hang onto their clout. People who have been involved in Party politics know this, as it has been very clear that the battle within the Party is between the DLC-Clinton wing and the new activist, progressive wing.

The Clintons and those in their circle have bashed activists repeatedly, and done everything in their power to keep the Party structure weak and being run in a top-down way by the DLC wing. The Dean-netroots-grassroots wing has done the opposite, trying to build the Party in all 50 states and create a bottom-up structure.

Ironically, major factors in Clinton's loss were her campaign's top-down nature, its decision to concentrate on the big states and neglect the caucus and smaller states and its dependence on big donors who maxed out early. They were also beat on the ground, in terms of organization and reach out.

The Clintons represent the old way of doing things in politics and they need to stop trying to block those moving energetically into a new way of doing things that is being proven to be very effective and empowering to ordinary people.

Just one example. Paul Begala, Rahm Emanuel and others in the Clinton circle have long mocked Dean's push to create Dem Party structures in states like Mississippi, Virginia and the mountain west. They repeatedly claimed it was a waste of money and that resources should be concentrated in the states where Dems are already strong and where there's a close Dem-Repub split. Guess what? The Dems just won important races in Mississippi and Louisiana, something that hadn't happened in decades. Who's laughing now?

In other words, this battle with the Clinton forces has long been going on the Party, and the Clintons are losing that battle in a similar way and for similar reasons that they lost the campaign.

As for Janet Napolitano or Kathleen Sibelius as VP choices, I think Hillary would have a very negative reaction if another women was chosen over her.


Posted by: barb | Jun 5, 2008 9:28:37 AM

I don't remember another losing candidate who needed such coddling. How does this help the next woman candidate? How does this show that women are real players and will work for the good of the party or the country?

Posted by: michelle meaders | Jun 5, 2008 11:05:43 AM

I just watched the entire speeches of Obama and HRC on YouTube. Turns out I only missed HRC's comments about Obama in the first minute or two, and caught the rest of the speech. YouTube didn't include McAuliffe's intro. I persist in thinking that Hillary's was an excellent speech (not compared to Obama, who is in his own class, but compared to her prior orations), that she has marked a good trail for female candidates of the future, and that she will step up and be good for the party and Obama in November.

Obama's speech was marked by graciousness, particularly in his comments about HRC. Seems to me that it's time to follow his lead.

Posted by: Ms. Ann Thrope | Jun 5, 2008 11:48:35 AM

As a person who made something like 150 phone calls for Clinton in 4 different states, I do resent the negative comments here. Clinton won two of the final three primaries. Remember that. How many of the negative commenters above are going to be out walking door to door for Obama? Contributing time and $$ to their local party and the local candidates, some of whom may move on up to the national level some day?

Posted by: yorksoo | Jun 6, 2008 10:47:35 PM