Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Bad Bargain

"I know somebody who must be happy this morning!" The words issued from my weight trainer, Jocy, also an Obama fan. "Yes and no," I answered. "I have this knot in the pit of my stomach. As I see it, she is still throwing chicken wire under his tires. She didn't concede, endorse, or close ranks behind him. Instead, now she's holding his feet to the fire to get the Vice Presidency. And that's got to be a lose-lose situation for him; the devil you do and the devil you don't."

"Oh, don't be so negative," said Jocy. "Give her a few days to settle." Was she right? I wondered, was I (once again) being "too negative"? All I could think of was the New Yorker cartoon I'd cut out and put into my diary. A doctor and his patient are conferring in the doctor's office. The medic says to the patient: "Your prognosis is tied to the outcome of the election." So, now that we had finally won, why wasn't I happy?

In what should have been her concession speech, Clinton conceded nothing. Instead, she seemed like she was still campaigning--continuing to delegitimize Obama, saying yet again that she was the better candidate who had won the popular vote--and implying that he couldn't win without her. This was her moment to unify, show loyalty to the party, to him, and to the country, but she had notably let it pass without doing any of it. I was shocked, appalled, and very worried. I was also still shaken by a reading I had done with the Thesaurus only a few days before, when I asked for an overview of where Clinton was headed:

Under the word "Disrepute" this was the information given to me:

"disreputable, shifty, shady, bad, doubtful, not thought much of, held in contempt, despised, petty, pitiful, degraded, odious, hateful, discredited, disgraced, unpopular, disliked, ignoble, unworthy, dishonest, blameworthy, disgusting, too bad, not nice, demeaning, wounding one's honor, hurting one's dignity, tarnished, stripped of reputation, out of favor."

I went to Starbucks after my workout and had a java chip frappuccino. Bought the New York Times there and discovered Maureen Dowd had already written a column, savaging Clinton's behavior of the night before: for stealing Obama's moment of historic glory and making it be about herself, acting as though the campaign was not over yet. Maybe I wasn't crazy, I thought. At least now we were a chorus of two. Her comments were even more scathing than anything I could have put together. I intended to quote her when I wrote my blog. But then, after I got home, I realized I had put the parts of the paper I wanted to keep in the trash with my Starbucks cup, and taken the useless sections home with me. I felt alone again with my negative thoughts, and even more frustrated and dejected.

Then I turned on the computer and read the HuffingtonPost--and discovered I was hardly alone in my feelings and forebodings. Even Hilary Rosen, a commentator who for weeks and weeks had been hammering out support for Hilary (almost a lone voice on this primarily pro-Obama site), had totally turned against her:

I Am Not a Bargaining Chip, I Am a Democrat

"Senator Clinton's speech last night was a justifiably proud recitation of her accomplishments over the course of this campaign, but it did not end right. She didn't do what she should have done. As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.

I am disappointed. As a long time Hillary Clinton supporter and more importantly, an admirer, I am sad that this historic effort has ended with such a narrow loss for her. There will be the appropriate "if onlys" for a long time to come. If only the staff shakeup happened earlier; if only the planning in caucus states had more focus; if only Hillary had let loose with the authentic human and connecting voice she found in the last three months of the campaign. If only. If only. I have written many times on this site about the talents of Hillary Clinton and why I thought she'd make a great President....

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat."

I am also adding here a single example of a response that was almost universal in Rosen's vast "comments" box:

Thank you Hillary Rosen, I agree.
Senators Clinton and McCain were both out-classed last night by Senator Obama. Senator Clinton's continued resistance to acknowledge him as the presumptive nominee even as late as her speech this morning to AIPAC, has convinced me she has no "grace under fire" and would not have been the best choice for president anyway, and even though it is only academic at this point, she has lost my admiration and nascent support. This is not her victory and how dare she try to steal his thunder by using her 18 million votes as leverage. This is a victory for Obama and for those of us who believe in decency. It is a momentous time in our history. Sorry, Hillary. You lost!
I hope you will learn from this (we are never too old) and take a lesson from Obama: Be gracious in defeat. It leaves a bad taste for everyone for you to remain so combative and angry.

Here is Beverly Davis, with another, similar post on HuffPost yesterday:

Hillary: It Ain't Over Yet!

"In a defiant speech ignoring Barack Obama's historic win as the first African-American to become a presidential nominee -- a giant step toward righting our horrific racist past, precisely 200 years since the slave trade was abolished in 1808 -- Hillary Clinton delivered a Valedictory speech initiating a 'write in' campaign to force Obama into offering her the Veep spot or to redeem her and her husband's legacy.

Of course, for Mrs. Clinton, her decision not to concede was all for the 'good' of those "invisible voices" she claims to represent -- Latinos, women, and working class voters. She didn't mention black voters.

The tone of her speech was so laden with self-preservation and self-aggrandizement that one wonders what Kool-Aid she's been drinking these past three months that has brought her to the end of her run for the presidency but not the end of her self-deluded power plays.

Instead of taking her loss like (dare I say it?) a man, she told her basement audience at Baruch College in Manhattan, "I will be making no decisions tonight....The question is where to go from here?"

She ended by asking her supporters to write in to tell her what to do: and we know they'll tell her to fight on to Denver.

Led by Lanny Davis, there will also be a campaign by her supporters to pressure Obama to make Hillary his running mate. If he does give in to this latest 'Clinton campaign' they will weaken him. If he can't stand up to Hillary Clinton and her creepy cohorts, he can't stand up to the tough guys around the world.

Clinton supporters were blasting emails to the talking heads on television during Tuesday night's campaign coverage protesting: "Give her time. Tonight should be her night." They're deluded too....

She's had months to get ready to concede, but instead kept firing at Obama with her Gatling-gun surrogates, most especially former President Bill Clinton, who just yesterday blamed Obama for the recent unflattering Vanity Fair article and all the other 'unfair' press she's received since the Iowa caucuses.

Clinton expressed no desire to disband or bring her army of supporters under the party tent, insisting on preserving her powerbase and forcing Obama into offering her the Vice Presidential spot or some other position she wants.

The Obama campaign has to be displeased as Hillary was introduced as the "Next president of the United States" before she took the stage in New York and delivered one of the least gracious speeches on record, completely ignoring the historicism of the moment when the first black man becomes his party's nominee.

It's doubtful this tough and unreasonable position will yield the results Mrs. Clinton desires."

The Thesaurus, it would seem, was a bull's-eye hit on HRC: "not thought much of, held in contempt, despised, petty, pitiful, degraded, odious, hateful, discredited, disgraced, unpopular, disliked, ignoble, unworthy, dishonest, blameworthy, disgusting, too bad, not nice, demeaning, wounding one's honor, hurting one's dignity, tarnished, stripped of reputation, out of favor."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As a long time fan of yours (I've read all of your books and articles) I can tell you that I was not only delighted to come upon your blog, but to know that you are an Obama person. I have not read all your blog entries...and somewhere you talk about Obama exuding an aura of a Zen master. It goes much deeper than that.

I wasn't old enough to vote when JFK ran, but I can tell you that when I would listen to him, I would get goose-bumps and just know that this was something different. (I am an empath) Of course I could not voice this in a staunch Republican family (Queens, NY). Needless to say I was severely traumatized when he was killed. My feeling about Obama goes much further, and maybe it started when I read his book, Dreams of My Father...he's right there in that book. To me he is so obviously REAL in a world of so many fakes...

Many thanks,
Lee Mamunes,
Suffern, NY