Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton: A Uniter, Not A Divider

The NY Times' Paul Krugman (a fair and balanced voice on the Democratic primary race) has written his latest column on the divided Democratic primary, insisting that its time for a certain candidate to tone down the rhetoric and work with the other side to heal the party's wounds...

Yes sir, Senator Obama needs to apologize to Senator Clinton ASAP. Wait, what?-
Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House...

...The point is that Mr. Obama may need those disgruntled Clinton supporters, lest he manage to lose in what ought to be a banner Democratic year.

So what should Mr. Obama and his supporters do?

Most immediately, they should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain. One more trumped-up scandal won’t persuade the millions of voters who stuck with Mrs. Clinton despite incessant attacks on her character that she really was evil all along. But it might incline a few more of them to stay home in November...

...Here’s the point: the nightmare Mr. Obama and his supporters should fear is that in an election year in which everything favors the Democrats, he will nonetheless manage to lose. He needs to do everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Head, meet desk.

Look, no one questions that Sen. Obama needs all the support he can get this Fall from voters who preferred another Democrat in the primary. That's always the case. And he should work hard to win them over, if they don't swing his way automatically after the primary contests are over. But the notion that these divisions are his fault and that he bears the sole/primary responsibility in healing them is mind-blowingly ridiculous.

Let's talk supporters for starters. Many Obama supporters have been holding their tongue on Sen. Clinton for the last week or two (I, as you may have noticed, haven't written about her in a while), not wanting to have the same debates ad naseum when we have a bigger fish-- John McCain-- to fry. Meanwhile, top sites/supporters like Taylor Marsh, HillaryIs44, and Corrente are all but ignoring the issues-- and the Republicans-- in lieu of rants about how Obama is a Pied Piper leading America to doom.

But more importantly, what has Sen. Clinton herself been up to lately?

She's promising to continue her fight, all the way to the convention, she insists, to get Florida and Michigan counted (only if Obama gets no delegates out of the latter, natch), comparing this fight to a) the civil rights movement, b) the 2000 Florida recount, and c) the election fraud in Zimbabwe (!!!). All while her supporters prepare to turn this Saturday's DNC meeting on Michigan and Florida into a circus. This is despite her having the same position on those states as the other candidates, up until she needed a rationale to continue the fight beyond the main primary contests. Then you had the much-hyped RFK assassination remarks, which-- beyond just how crass it came out (despite the less crass point she was trying to make)-- was false on its face, as again a) her husband had his nomination wrapped up by March 1992, not June, and b) the 1968 race which Kennedy was a contender in didn't even start until March of that year (it was not expected President Johnson would choose not to run again) so its continuation into June is not relevant to the 2008 race. Not to mention Clinton herself six months ago wanted the race over by Super Tuesday, thus 'disenfranchising' (by her logic) the remaining states. And then you have Bill Clinton running around insisting the media is covering up what an obviously superior candidate his wife is.

All of this is part of a larger narrative the Clintons are creating that the nomination-- rightfully hers (it was her turn, after all)-- was stolen by a cabal of Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers Obama cultists, liberals and elitists, sexist men, black people, etc... thus ensuring that her most ardent supporters either sit the election out or cast a protest vote for McCain. I get fighting hard for the nomination, especially having come this far. But this is something else entirely they are playing at here.

Meanwhile, Sen. Obama is focusing on John McCain, not attacking Clinton, and insisting over and over that he gives the Clintons the benefit of the doubt on every scandal/attack that comes up at this point.

Yes, both candidates should work together through the Summer and Fall to unite the party around the bigger picture (though I feel a VP nod for Clinton should be out of the question at this point), but the notion that its Obama or his supporters that have done this damage is beyond spin.


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