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On the night when Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Presidential nomination, I wrote the following about Senator Hillary Clinton's supporters, who were still hurt and sad and, yes, angry about the primary results:

I hope, though, that after dealing with their disappointment and taking time to get used to the idea of an Obama candidacy, they will take a close look at the policy positions of Barack Obama and John McCain.  I hope they will think about what a McCain Presidency would mean to the future of the war in Iraq, the composition of the Supreme Court, the state of the economy, the prospects for health care reform, the ballooning of our budget deficit, improvements in public education, and a host of other issues.  The differences between Obama and McCain are far greater than any differences that exist between Obama and Clinton, and when it comes right down to it, these and other issues are what this election ought to be about.

Here we are, two months later, on the eve of the opening of the Democratic National Convention, and, sadly, we are still hearing about disaffected Clinton supporters who are angry with Obama about this or that, and who are, remarkably, considering casting their votes for John McCain.  The latest slight, in the eyes of Clinton's supporters, is Barack Obama's choice of Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate.

Personally, I would have liked for Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate.  Of course, I also would have liked to see Clinton release her delegates prior to the convention.  Things don't always work out.  I have been pretty sympathetic to Clinton's supporters in the wake of the primary season.  As I said the same night I wrote the quote given above, Clinton was treated shabbily by the press and forced to deal with a level of vitriol from the right, most of it rooted in sexism, that few modern Presidential candidates have ever had to endure.  But enough already.  Hillary Clinton lost the nomination to Obama.  She wasn't cheated.  Obama did nothing wrong.  He simply outworked her and outsmarted her.  He ran a brilliant campaign that focused on grassroots organization.  That's why he creamed her in all the caucus states.  Now Clinton's supporters might not like the caucus system -- I'm not sure I do either -- but she signed off on those rules when she was still the frontrunner.  She also signed off on the punishments meted out by the DNC against Florida and Michigan.  Only when the campaign started to get away from her did she start to complain about the caucuses and rail against the "injustice" done to the voters in the two states facing party sanctions.  Obama did nothing wrong, but Clinton went out of her way to paint him as a cheat in order to keep her voters riled up.

As for the VP decision:  When Hillary Clinton finally conceded the race to Obama, she made a point of NOT ending her campaign.  Instead, she suspended it.  I'm sure she had good reason for this -- it might have had something to do with campaign finances and the debt her campaign had incurred.  When discussions began on how the convention would be run, Clinton insisted on having her name placed in nomination.  She said it would give her supporters a chance to have some closure -- a catharsis of sorts.  Obama agreed.  Clinton will also have floor whips in place at the convention:  campaign lieutenants who will make certain that the Clinton delegates behave and vote as they are supposed to.  Clinton's campaign representatives have said that they want to avoid anti-Obama demonstrations, and that this is why they want the whips in place.

All of this is easy to explain away.  It can all be seen as innocent.  But the fact remains that Hillary Clinton has done everything she could to maintain her viability as an alternative to Barack Obama.  I can't blame her really.  The margin between them was thin, and he is a relative newcomer to the political scene.  He might have made a mistake even after clinching the nomination, and she probably wanted to be in position to capitalize when he did.

My point is this:  Hillary Clinton and her supporters can't have it both ways.  If Clinton's campaign is merely suspended, if her name is to be placed in nomination at the campaign, if she is going to have a full compliment of delegate whips on the floor at the convention, then she remains, in fact, a rival to Obama for the Presidency.  She can't also expect to be considered for the Vice Presidency on a ticket headed by Obama.  It would be presumptuous of him to ask her, because he'd be dismissing her candidacy.  And it is presumptuous of her and her supporters to believe that she can actively pursue both offices.

The bottom line remains the same as it did the night Barack Obama clinched the nomination.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both progressive Democrats who support an end to the war in Iraq, a tax system that doesn't benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor, enlightened environmental and energy policies, a Supreme Court that will protect a woman's right to reproductive freedom, meaningful reform of our nation's health care system, and a qhole host of other policy initiatives.  Clinton supporters who vote for McCain simply because they are angry that Hillary lost the nomination are turning their backs on everything Clinton has fought for throughout her political career.  As she said any number of times, this election was not about her, but rather about the future of our nation and the well-being of our children and their children.  Clinton has swallowed her disappointment and spoken eloquently on Barack Obama's behalf.  It's time for her supporters to let go of their disappointment and follow her lead.  This election is too important for this nonsense to continue.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC)
Agreed. (Except about her as a running mate--I think nothing would have galvanized the Republican base more than her on the ticket. Also, she never agreed to be vetted because she didn't want Bill's financial dealings brought into the light, so in fact, it was impossible for her to be the running mate.)

I think on Tuesday Senator Clinton should not waste too much time praising Obama. Her diehard supporters, for some reason I cannot fathom because I live in a different universe, are never going to support him. Plus she spent so much time dragging him down during the primary--even going so far as to praise the opposition party's nominee in comparison, a cardinal sin that no Republican would ever commit--no one will believe she really thinks Obama should be President.

She needs to strike the fear of God in them about a McCain presidency--his opposition to women's rights, his support for more and more and more wars in which their children will have to fight and die, his cluelessness about the economy that is tearing apart their lives. If they can't bring themselves to vote for Obama, they should at least vote against McCain.

Spite, by definition, is a wound that harms the inflicter as much as the inflicted.
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Great comment, Jeri. Thanks. I think you're right, though I hadn't thought about it in these terms before. Her praise for Obama is wasted, given the things she said about him during the primary season and the stuff her supporters are saying now. But fear is a powerful political weapon. And her supporters ought to find the notion of a McCain Presidency terrifying.
Aug. 25th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying this. I honestly do not understand what the hold-out Clinton supporters hope to gain here-- I recognize they are upset regarding perceived sleights against them by the Obama camp, that they think there is some gap Obama needs to close to regain their affections, but at this point, it is clear that party disunity is having a major negative impact on Obama's performance, and the worse his performance gets, the worse he will do in November, even if the missing sheep later come back to the flock. At some point, we need to accept that Clinton lost and look towards what's best for the nation.

I've heard clinton supporters (most notably Paul Begala) shouting about Obama's "ego" as why he didn't vet Clinton (to which the Obama camp's reply is "we did vet Clinton," but apparently that's unimportant) and how they can't believe he's goiing to throw away all these voters for ego. But let's look at it. Clinton supporters now have a candidate who agrees with 99.9% of Hillary's major policy positions and another candidate who agrees with approximately none, and they are saying that they will vote for the latter over the former because they don't believe the former was properly respectful to Hillary in the way he didn't choose her as his vice president. If that's not ego getting in the way of self-interest, I don't know what is. No matter what you think of the Obama/Clinton campaign, an "I told you so" is not worth the price of our country's future.
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Paul Begala should have known better -- I still find it hard to believe that he was whining that way. As if Bill Clinton consulted with Paul Tsongas before choosing Al Gore as his running mate. Give me a break! Thanks for the comment.
Aug. 25th, 2008 11:40 am (UTC)
Better late than never...
Evidently Clinton will release her delegates Wednesday after a reception for them. (See: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jzTpjgPr6R1x9bjvWgnoeb0pWGBQD92OSTFO0) Not exactly timely, but at least the release should happen.

Applause for the post!
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Better late than never...
Thanks for the applause. As you say, better late than never. But she's not helping by waiting this long.
Re: Better late than never... - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Better late than never... - davidbcoe - Aug. 26th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Better late than never... - carolf - Aug. 27th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Better late than never... - davidbcoe - Aug. 28th, 2008 03:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
I think Obama's choice for VP was horrible. It is a slap in the face of all of his supports who voted for "Change You can Believe in". Biden is an old Washington Insider and part of the system that people on both sides of the aisle are fed up with. I can understand Obama wanting to balance the ticket by adding experience that he doesn't have, but why pick one of the longest serving Senators in Congress? Could he not have picked a younger Senator who is placed in key positions? Instead he chose to give a slap in the face to his supporters.

Every time I see youthful Obama preaching Change, with Joseph Biden's white hair over Obama's shoulder.... I can't help but laugh.
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, Mark. I'll look forward to seeing how you and your fellow GOPers justify McCain's choice, whoever that may be. Bobby Jindal's resume is thnner than Obama's. MCCain attacked Romney as being unprincipled and supporting surrender in Iraq. Ridge and Lieberman are pro-choice, while McCain has promised a "pro-life presidency." Pick your brand of hypocrisy -- you'll have to swallow one of them eventually.

The fact is, Obama is an advocate for change, but he's also a Chicago politician. He's pragmatic and tough and smart as hell. And he knows (as Kennedy knew in 1960) that enacting change will require Congressional approval. Having a savvy legislator like Biden on his side will be enormously helpful. This was a pick that was as much about governing as it was about electoral politics. It shows his wisdom. And the fact that the right wingers are attacking so hard shows how scared they are of an Obama/Biden ticket.
(no subject) - markwise - Aug. 25th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 25th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 26th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 25th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
Just to jump in really quickly on this point: when I was in law school, I was lucky enough to have Joe Biden (along with Chuck Hagel) speak to one of my small section classes, and then to talk to him afterwords. He talked about politics in Washington and how horrible it had become, how bipartisanship of the type that he and Hagel and others used to engage in all the time was a thing of the past, etc. What impressed me the most with him was when someone asked him "if the Democrats are in charge, will that change?" and he said "Absolutely not." The problem transcended party. And the solution had to do the same. And the fact that Biden practices what he preaches is shown by the fact that Dick Lugar was the first person to congratulate him after the announcement.

So the point is, in 2005, before Obama was on the scene, Biden and a few lik advocate for a type of bipartisan politics that had disappeared. Granted, this is talking about change back rather than change ahead, but Biden is an agent of change. I don't know that the Obama team will be able to show that to the American people, but the choice of Joe Biden is in reality directly in line with the type of politics Obama espouses. Maybe the appearance is ugly, but the spirit is true.
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 25th, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 26th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 27th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 27th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 28th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 25th, 2008 12:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to vote of course, seeing I'm Australian. However, I like what you are saying. Obama wining the nomination has to be the most exciting thing in US politics for years and what happens there affects us all, whether we like it or not. I never understood Hillary's resistance to conceding Obama's win. And I thought the bitterness was too deep to allow her to become the VP candidate. And yes I can't believe that people who supported Hillary would vote for McCain. It doesn't make any sense to me at all. Perhaps that is because there is the credo and there is the person. I would vote for the credo rather than the person but that's just me. Australian politics may appear boring but they are relatively easy to understand.
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Easy to understand and amazingly sane. How long was the Howard-Rudd campaign? Six weeks? Eight weeks? Whatever it was, it WASN'T twenty-four months. Our system is nuts and it's out of control. And if McCain wins we're moving back to Woonona.... Thanks for the comment, Donna.
Aug. 25th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
While I have been critical of HRC she has been stellar of late. I think she would have had a better chance at Veep...but there's the problem of what to do with Bill. He's the albatross around her neck.

I will say this, though. If the Democrats don't go on offense in a very big way, they're going to lose -- again. And they will deserve to lose for not hitting back harder than the RNC is hitting them.
Aug. 25th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
I agree that Bill would have been a problem for a number of reasons. As for the Dem's campaign, there's a piece at Huffington Post that you ought to read -- the things Obama has to do in Denver or somesuch. Good article.
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - davidbcoe - Aug. 26th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - carolf - Aug. 26th, 2008 09:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
I supported Clinton in the primaries. I gave money to her campaign. I wouldn't have minded if she had gotten the VP nod. But this is silly.

1) The supporters of her's who are truly considering voting McCain aren't Democrats. For some; I'd be assured that if I called them racists, I wouldn't be far from the mark.
2) Historically, what other candidate has done these same things? Where she lost and now wants her supporters to go through some sort of carthasis because they need it? Give me money?

Saw her giving a speech today where she said,

"...I got 18 million votes. Senator Obama got 18 million votes or so"

Who cares? You lost Senator Clinton. You will not win this. Everyday she kept this going lost her more support in the party. Sad, really.

Besides, is this really a 'story' or is this the media hoping to drum up interest in the convention? Has to have the drama in America...
Aug. 26th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
May I gently point out that those 18 million who voted for her are the ones who care?

And that Obama can hardly carry an administration with only 1/2 the support of his party?

In party politics, these things really do matter, and the party does, indeed, care.

All that said, I have a sad suspicion that the majority of Clinton-or-McCain talk is coming from Republicans in Democratic clothing. I once suggested that as more of a metaphore, and then as a joke. Then I learned about the Republican reception for Hillary supporters.

In this kind of atmosphere, anything is possible.

( 34 comments — Leave a comment )


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