Thursday, June 05, 2008

Even Bitter May Enter Barack's Door

Who'd have thunk it — some chunk of Hillary Clinton's supporters will let spite rule. We don't yet know how many may 1) write in Hillary in November, 2) vote for John McCain, or 3) not vote. They are dropping all pretense of being progressive or liberal, or voting for the good of fellow citizens in lifting the crushing weight of the failed GOP machine.

As a big fan and daily reader of the Financial Times, I'm not surprised their coverage and commentary has continued to be the best. Papers, broadcast and bloggers are shamelessly overlapping each other analyzing how Hillary's camp blew her certain candidacy. We can let such now meaningless supposition drop until we have the distance to make useful judgments than can help future lefty seekers. With everyone buzzing about how she'll endorse Obama Saturday, what she'll do is far more significant than what she didn't right now.

I already surmised that some Dems will act like Republican in their vitriol. There are GOP sorts who refuse to support McCain, claiming he is too left for them. Our version is that set who can't vote for the guy who beat their champion. Some will volunteer for McCain. At least short term, some will choose something other than beating the Republicans, as reflected in Pew Research Center trends.

Of course, the suddenness of having to face Obama's victory is likely a short-term shock for many. This wound is very fresh, very large and very painful.

Punditry would have it that some who now swear anyone-but-Obama (exclamation point appropriate) are:
  • Racist and wouldn't vote for a black or mixed-race person
  • Sexist and wouldn't vote for a man who defeated their woman
  • Never liberal or progressive anyway
  • Concerned with self-absorbed voting for someone most like them, regardless of collateral damage to the nation
A solid subset speaking to media have said they would only vote for an Obama-with-VP-Clinton ticket. From here and from the FT in London, Hillary has pretty much ripped that possibility from her and her supporters. Her intractable and unrealistic behavior in these waning days of the campaign pretty much show she's not VP material. As the FT editorial puts it:
The clincher, though, is that Mrs Clinton seems psychologically incapable of serving as Mr Obama’s deputy – before or after the election. Her conduct this week proves it. She could have made it difficult for Mr Obama to refuse her the VP slot by delivering a gracious, unifying concession speech. Instead she declared herself the moral victor and the stronger candidate, occluded Mr Obama’s success, and set about demanding the vice-presidential nomination as of right. Now, if Mr Obama takes her on to the ticket, he will look weak; if he does not, he will offend her supporters. The second is regrettable, but much the lesser evil.
With the angry and hurt supporters reeling, several questions arise:
  • When Hillary concedes Saturday, will she make a sincere effort to inspire her troops to shift to Obama?
  • How many Hillary folk will bolt?
  • When she gets offered Secretary of State or something else other than VP, will she use her power for good leading up to November?
Regardless, Obama suddenly would have to abandon his realistic views to ignore that some Hillary supporters are simply gone. That is unfortunate for all of us who want to begin reversing the disastrous politics, policies and economics of the recent past.

However, I think we'll manage just fine, thank them very much. In fact, those who now cling to the concept that without the votes of the disgruntled and bitter Hillary supporters, Obama is doomed, doomed, doomed. They, in fact, sound a lot like the patronizing Geraldine Ferraro recently saying Obama better be nice to her, in effect to know his place, because she could raise money for him, if he behaves like she demands.

Another fact is that Obama has a much more effective ally in beating McCain. That's McCain. He's a volatile oral stumblebum. Once the one-on-one starts and the issues are before people, the highly emotional fellow with the questionable record and Bush LITE positions will be a terrific help to the Dems. Campaign rhetoric aside, Obama will not be running against Clinton and McCain in November.

Whether it is one in 300 or one in 10 Hillary fans who desert the party for the November vote, they'll make the difference between winning solidly and winning huge.

Meanwhile, back to the FT, while everyone else is autopsying Hillary's diseased campaign corpse, Chrystia Freeland wrote the definitive piece on the lasting and meaning "real lesson for women." She nails the solid accomplishments of Hillary's race.

First, she distinguishes Hillary's relative dynastic, privileged and inherited political power from leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel who "were elected to run Group of Seven high-income countries under their own steam." She argues that a Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton dynasty swapping would be both undemocratic and "a flawed triumph for feminism." "For one thing, where marriage and paternity have put women into power it is hard to be sure they have broken glass ceilings for the rest of us." Instead, this might "reflect the importance of political clans more than that of girl power."

Instead, Clinton's remarkable race shows that "a woman could be tough enough to serve as commander-in-chief." As Freeland wrote:
In the final stretch of the race, Mrs Clinton let the country see her grit, stamina and indomitable will. It was the most effective pose of her chameleon campaign, partly because it was the most authentic. By showing that she has what the irrepressible strategist James Carville did not have any scruples in dubbing the “cojones” to rule, Mrs Clinton has made the path to the White House a little smoother for the next woman who attempts to ascend it. Her demonstration effect is sure to extend more widely, too: Mrs Clinton’s highly visible example makes it more plausible and more socially acceptable for Americans in every field of endeavour to imagine women at the top.
Freeland urged Clinton supporters not to diminish this by "paint(ing) her as the female victim of another patriarchal onslaught." Instead, "Mrs Clinton has been defeated in this year’s quest for the White House, but by proving that a woman can be tough and applauded for her muscle, she has scored an important victory for American women."

Not everyone can be that big and that wise as to revel in Clinton's accomplishments, at least not yet. When we are deeply disappointed, it's hard to take a longer and wider view. History will. Perhaps when we all get over picking nits with this not-quite-victorious effort, we can say what until recently seemed impossible, "Sure, a woman can win the Presidency."

In my lifetime, the White House exclusion list was long. It used to include Roman Catholics. It may or may not still include Jews and many non-whites. Hillary and Barack's showings have put women and black or mixed race Americans in the running. That's long overdue and is well worth building on and celebrating.

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Chalicechick said...

I responded to this, with great vitrol, at the Chaliceblog.


massmarrier said...

To make it easy, you can find that The sort of post that makes me dislike Obama supporters here. It's personal anddoesn't deal with the concepts in my post, other than to minimize racism and maximize sexism claims for the candidates' supporters. However, those weren't what the quoted FT columns were about.

Despite the spate of analysis of her almost winning the nomination, she did a lot for women here by just that. It would also be super if she actually did begin to urge her supporters to defeat the Republicans in November. Maybe that will come Saturday. It can't be too soon.

Uncle said...

"Chrystia Freeland...argues that a Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton dynasty swapping would be both undemocratic and 'a flawed triumph for feminism.'"
That's one of the few times that anyone has addressed an underlying issue of this campaign. I don't think you have to have grown up taking in stories of the unfairness of hereditary rule to be bothered by the extent to which de facto hereditary rule has followed here in the footsteps of our unilateral imperialism. People at or nearing 40 have had a Bush, a Clinton, or both in every election of their adult lives. There were not just urinal posters at Clinton rallies, were there? There were some prescient souls whose posters read "down with monarchy." You can use "entitlement" instead of "monarchy" if you wish, but its the same thing. And that is only one piece of the wish for change that Clinton, McCain, and the pundits did not get. Another is a weariness of vitriol.

I did go to the Chaliceblog. Apart from the pointless personal invective, I thought the vitriol there was more like dilute white vinegar.

Perhaps the venting is running its course, and a critical mass of the disaffected will discover realpolitik.

massmarrier said...

Just so, Uncle. As for the counter-post, I too was amused by its mildness. It was not like the crazy wingers who figuratively take machetes to the petunias. Then again, she likely is a UU and relentlessly nice by habit.