Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Contrary View

Bruce, Tankwoman and I all have different takes on what happened yesterday, and I think that it is indicative of the confused state of the Democrats generally as we turn to face the Republicans and the general election.

Bruce was happy with both Clinton's and Obama's speeches last night, and was not at all happy with the comments of pundits who took issue with the speech Hillary gave in New York.

Tankwoman expressed her disappointment, and the disappointment felt by many of us, especially women, at the closing of the historic campaign of Hillary Clinton -- who clearly could have been the first woman to serve this country as President. TW drew the conclusion that America is not yet a place where a woman can aspire to the Presidency - that America still isn't ready.

My take is different.

I think we could well see a woman win the Presidency in my lifetime, and I hated Hillary's speech.

A Woman for President

Vice President Clinton will be well-positioned to follow Barack Obama in eight years. Kathleen Sebelius, Nancy Pelosi and Janet Napolitano are all potential candidates. Hillary's failure in 2008 is the kind of near-win that will encourage women, once the disappointment of this year fades. Hillary's failure to compete effectively in several states will be seen as the strategic failure that led to her loss - this, rather than rampant sexism, is what undermined her. America is readier than TW believes.

The Clinton Speech

I agree with the pundits that Hillary gave an awful speech last night. She repeated the loathsome claim that she won a popular majority, implying that Obama is not the legitimate nominee of the party; she insisted that she was keeping her options open - smiling at suggestions from the crowd that she take her case to Denver and inviting their suggestions; repeated her claim to be the stronger candidate; and worst of all, implied that her 18 million supporters had been disrespected (by Obama, implicitly) and were invisible (to him and his campaign, implicitly).

How should Obama make amends for disrespecting her 18 million supporters? How can he avoid her taking this to the Convention, stoking the fires of resentment and disunity all the way to Denver? He must yield to her demands - the VP slot, a featured role at the convention, and a powerful portfolio in the Obama White House.

Effective politics, perhaps - but playing hardball on Obama's big day has to rankle. The contrast between his magnanimous praise of her, and her theme of division and resentment, sustains my faith in our choice. Last night, Obama surpassed Hillary in more than the delegate count. And as much as I was thrilled by his classy and inspring speech, I was disturbed and disappointed by hers.

Father Pfleger was partly right about Hillary - her sense of entitlement is incredible - even pathological. It isn't rooted in race, but that doesn't mean it isn't repulsive. We know that politicians have big egos, but we expect them to act with some humility and grace. Hillary missed on both counts last night.

To unify the party, Obama may choose to offer Hillary the VP slot on the ticket. But I would rather he asked Kathleen Sebelius, or Joe Biden, or John Edwards.

I don't think I could bear to hear any more of the politics of resentment - it is the pitch of George Wallace and Al Sharpton. It is divisive, at a time when we rightly despise divisiveness. It is Karl Rove and George W Bush. It is the politics of the past - at a time when we all need to move forward.

Hillary is the one scratching my blackboard. And I am ready to throw an eraser.

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posted at 7:34:00 AM by Neil

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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