Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hillary Needs to Fade Away--For Her Own Sake

What do we learn from the self-destruction of Hillary Clinton? A lot!

First and foremost let me say that there is no way in the world that Obama will ask her to be his vice-president. This was always the decision that Obama should have made but Clinton has made it so easy for him with her recent behavior that I continue to be amazed that the addicts of cable news seem to be able to talk about little else. By going so public with her desire for the job, she has created a situation where Obama can't pick her without seeming weak and malleable. His biggest challenge right now is to be strong and presidential.

I declared the race for the nomination to be over in a post months ago. It wasn't a prediction--it was a statement of fact. The math had become totally unforgiving to Hillary. Obama was up five holes with four left to play. Match over. The vice-president thing is a little different because it is much more subjective but it too is now so over.

Why would Obama want Hillary on the ticket? She and Bill have centainly done neither him nor the party any favors in recent weeks. One of her two stated reasons for sticking around in the campaign was because Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June so anything can happen. That statement was so raw that she immediately backtracked and apoligized to the Kennedy family. But she never apologized to Obama for implying that she was hanging around in case he got shot and she never implied that she shouldn't have said it. Before that she said that she could get the votes from white, hard-working voters and Obama couldn't. Then, last night, her court jester Terry McAuliffe introduced her as "the next president of the United States" and no one--including Hillary--made any reference to the fact that Obama had actually won the nomination.

Today, all the experts are talking about the great strengths that Clinton would bring to the ticket as V.P. Let me get this straight. Here is Hillary Clinton who came into the first primary five months ago as the presumptive nominee. She had a lead of 22-30 percentage points over Obama in all the major polls. She had all the money, all the momentum, and it seemed as though the primaries were just a formality.

Obama came out of the blocks in Iowa and never looked back. He led the race from wire to wire and outraised Clinton by tens of millions of dollars. Bill has been a liability almost from the outset like the crazy drunk uncle who is always ruining Thanksgiving dinner by blurting out the wrong thing. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign staff and message were reshuffled repeatedly as it managed to run up a $20 million debt and blow the biggest lead in American political history.

And now we're told that Obama needs Hillary to win! What am I missing here?

Hillary spent the first three months of the year proving that she couldn't win a national campaign no matter how big a lead in money and support she started out with. She loved portaying herself as the scrappy underdog for the last two months but she was only in that position because she found a way to lose 11 straight primaries and caucuses and send her campaign into financial ruin.

Then she and Bill flipped from being incompetent to being evil as well. They attacked Obama--even when they could no longer win--in ways that could only hurt the Democratic Party and help McCain.

I view the Clintons as being comparable to a basketball team that was favored to win the championship game but ended up down 30 points with 5 minutes to go. There was a little time left on the clock but the game was over. The winning team put in its reserve players--just like Obama stopped campaigning against Hillary a month ago and starting campaigning against McCain--because the outcome of the game was not in doubt, only the winning margin.

But the Clinton team left its starters in until the end. In addition--and here's the telling part--they committed hard fouls designed to injure their oppenents in an effort to stop the clock and prolong the game. A team that competes hard after all is lost can't necisarily be criticized for that. But it says a lot about a team's character--all of it bad--when a team tries to injure its oppenents EVER--but particularly after the outcome of the game is no longer in doubt. Then, in another classless move, they screamed that the game was stolen from them by the referees.

The keen political instincts that served the Clintons so well for years have completely atrophied in recent weeks.

Obama will continue to be respectful to Clinton because it is the right and smart thing to do. But unless Hillary and Bill start behaving like grownups soon, they will be damaging their position in the Democratic Party so badly that no one will want them around in any capacity.

In her non-concession speech last night in which she repeatedly talked about how she had earned the right to be the Democratic nominee, she said everyone had been asking her "What Does Hillary Want?" She has to quickly understand that the game is over and nobody cares what Hillary wants. They want to help Obama beat McCain. They just want her to start doing what defeated nominees are supposed to do--figure out how they can help the party and the guy who won. That seems to be the furthest thing from the Clintons' minds right now.

By the way, she is also benefitting from reverse-sexism. This kind of whiny, self-absorbed, selfish and damaging behavior would never be tolerated from a man. Yes she ran a hard race and yes she really wanted to win. But so did John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and others. None of them behaved so horribly when it became clear they had lost and none of them acted in a way that was damaging to the party or other candidates. In politics, only one person can win and when you lose you lose. End of conversation.

I'm hoping that the Clintons' conversation will end--very soon--so Obama and McCain can engage each other without the sideshow we have endured for the last two months.

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