I was a huge Clinton fan in the 90s. And I was pumped to think that Hillary Clinton might be the first female President, back in 2000, when she ran for the Senate and it was clear she eventually would run for the Presidency. But then came Barack Obama, and I saw in him a far better potential President. Would I have been upset had Hillary been the nominee? A little bit, yes, but of course I would have voted for her in the general election.
There were a number of moments during the race where Hillary’s campaign was, in my opinion, distasteful. These moments will come back to haunt the Democrats as the Republicans begin to use Hillary’s own words against Barack. That said, you can’t blame Hillary for fighting through until the last Primary, she’s a fighter, and that’s one of her qualities. And the length of the Primary Season was, in my opinion, a huge win for the Democratic Party as a whole, with more States and voters energized than ever before.
There is a difference, however, between fighting until the end and staying on the field after you’ve lost a close game.
Last night, Hillary crossed a line, and it was inexcusable. On the night that Obama clinches the nomination, she refuses to concede. She brings up a number of bogus arguments that undermine Obama’s victory, even though it is a clear victory by the rules, even after the rules have been modified in her favor. She gives a speech that, heard in isolation, makes it sound like she won (did you notice her speech was in a basement, where the audience had no cell phone reception and no TV screens?). She insinuates that you have to negotiate with her to get her supporters.
If you’re a Hillary Clinton supporter, Hillary now believes she owns you. She believes that, for Obama to get your vote and your support, he has to negotiate with her. I find that incredibly arrogant and unbecoming of a true leader. More importantly, on the issues: Hillary will not be President in 2008. So the only realistic consequence of her actions, as of last night, is to weaken Obama and increase the chance of a McCain win. If you actually care about women’s rights and more generally a Democratic Party agenda, continuing to support Hillary now is equivalent to playing for the other team. So, what is Hillary actually fighting for? I’m not sure, but in my opinion, as of last night, it’s certainly not for the issues that matter in this election.
UPDATE: Hillary Rosen, a strong Hillary supporter, takes an incredibly honorable position. I do not know if, in her place, I would be as strong and decent, but I like to think I would be.