Sunday, March 02, 2008

Clinton, What is Best in Life?

A benefit of atheism is not having to fear the sort of divine retribution Thomas Jefferson imagined with "Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

Candidate Hillary Clinton's own reckoning is likely to manifest itself before her on Tuesday evening. The mumbling in the audience became considerably louder recently and particularly yesterday. In a predictable and amusing twist, Barack Obama supporters are reveling in their candidate's increasing lead in the race by asking her to step out of the contest.

As reported in the New York Times, those who have endorsed Obama and some such as withdrawn candidate Bill Richardson who seem poised to do so, want their guy to have the clear sailing the GOP's John McCain already has. On Face the Nation, Richardson spoke of how crucial it will be to present a unified campaign against McCain. He added that "whoever has the most delegates after Tuesday, a clear lead, should be, in my judgment, the nominee." Likewise, on CNN, our Sen. John Kerry said Clinton's only chance was "to win a big victory in both Ohio and Texas."

Almost as if to fortify the calls for her to quit, President Bush's former adviser, the infamous Karl Rove, urged her to say in. Cynics may say that he has a vested interest in a GOP victory and sees her as more beatable. What he actually said on Fox News was "I think it’s a mistake for his campaign to be calling for her to drop out. It’s up to the delegates at the convention to decide who wins and loses."

Surely it's a coincidence that the longer the two Dems spend battling each other, the more tactical ammunition they give McCain. Also, they deplete their campaign funds that should go to defeating him. (I saw what you did there, Karl.)

Of course, it's no surprise that she didn't immediately say that logic of quitting was unassailable, that she'd drop out for the good of the party. She has long seemed to seek what's best for 1) Hillary, 2) the party, and 3) the nation, in that order. She has a huge door of self-interest to shut before she'd turn to that good-of-the-party thing.

She has two roads to the nomination:
  1. Earn convincing, double-digit victories in Texas and Ohio on Tuesday, narrowing the pledged-delegate gap with Barack Obama.
  2. Convince three-quarters of the superdelegates to vote in opposition to their states' electorates and openly support her.
Those urging her to step aside figure that the first is certainly not going to happen. It's not impossible, just very unlikely. Moreover, it would be incredibly tough to give up on the thousands of hours, hundreds of days of emotional, physical and intellectual strain, and millions of dollars spent so far.

Unfortunately for her campaign, her response to falling behind to Obama has not been the kind you'd think would beat a John McCain later. Her variation on Conan the barbarian's answer to what is best in life could be, "Crush the Republicans, see them driven from office, and hear the lamentations of their contributors!"

In that way, she had done good for the political process. She has transcended the major gender issues so prevalent when she first announced. She has shown that she can be as irascible, dirty and distorting as any politician, male or female. Many people see her ads and comments as just a politician being nasty, not a woman behaving out of the range of cultural norms.

She worked through her days of being able to claim, "You're just ganging up on me because I'm a woman." We can hope that this carries over to the next woman who runs for the office. She should find it easier to do her do without the trappings of being cast as it's female this or that. That may be small comfort to Clinton, but it's good for us all long term.

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