I’ve never completely understood the absolute enmity so many conservatives have for the Clintons, and for Hillary Clinton in particular. I have always believed much of it to be due to sour grapes, because the Clinton Dynasty was really the first era of non-GOP leadership that captured the attention of the country since Kennedy. (No, Carter doesn’t count.) It had to be a rude awakening to go from Reagan/Bush to eight years of the Clintons.
Plus, considering the traditional social viewpoints of the GOP base, the fact that Hillary is a strong, liberal woman had to play a role as well. Whenever I have heard the “Hillary is power mad” line I’ve always cast it aside and assumed whoever was floating it to be a bitter conservative, a sexist, or both. In fact, I just did so last week, at length, on a post at Hyperbole.
Mea culpa. I was wrong. Sure, I do still think a lot of people dislike HRC because of their GOP or gender biases. But I can’t just shrug off the accusation that the Clintons are about the Clintons, first and foremost. Not anymore.
Let me count the ways. First, I’m tired of hearing that any state Obama wins is only because there were too many black voters, or because it was a caucus state, and caucuses are inherently anti-democratic. (Although I do personally believe they are.) Excuses, excuses. It turns out the only important states to HRC are the states that HRC wins or has a chance to win, like Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Absolutely, those are important states in any election, but why wouldn’t the Democrats seize a chance to compete in states they had previously written off? (And in the case of HRC, still are writing off.)
And then, there is this issue of the super delegates, which incidentally I think would be a great name for an adventure cartoon. HRC’s campaign has forcefully said this week they won’t hesitate to claim the nomination via super delegates, even if she has not captured the majority of the delegates selected through the cumulative vote counts. Now, that’s all fine and good, and it’s her right to do that, but how can you dismiss caucuses as “anti-democratic and elitist”, and then loudly proclaim you will use the party apparatus in such a way even if you lose the popular vote?
Then there’s Michigan, where HRC initially agreed with the Democratic Party that the delegates from Michigan won’t be counted as a punishment for moving the primary up. But then, HRC had her name added to the ballot late in the game, the only Dem to do so. And now her campaign wants to count those delegates, as well as Florida’s? Say what?
I suppose it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. When the Clintons were ruling the roost and fighting the good fight against the Gingrich-era Contract On America, Bill and HRC could do very little wrong in my eyes. But now I see them fighting a different fight, against not only the best candidate the Democrats can offer, but against the Democratic Party and Democratic voters themselves. That’s a very different situation, and it makes it hard to deny that she looks less like someone with the party and rank and file Democrats in mind, and more like someone with her own ambition in mind.
Clearly, if she cleans up in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the overall vote tallies are close, then it’s her right to fight and I can’t begrudge her that. That’s part of what makes her an attractive candidate in the first place, right? That she is tough and she won’t back down? But there is a time to back down and be a cog in the machine, and that time is when the overall cause may be imperiled by your own pursuits. Can you imagine what will happen to the Democratic Party if Obama ends up with something like 35 out of the 50 states, or 15% more delegates determined by the popular vote, and he loses the nomination because the Dem Party insiders decide to back HRC? Never mind what that would do for the general election in 2008–What will it do to the Democratic Party, period?
I’ll tell you what it will do: It will make Obama’s “politics as usual” saw more true than ever, and that new American Coalition he keeps talking about might just form their own tent, and their own party. Because the Dem performance since taking back the House and Senate in 2006 hasn’t exactly been a watershed, has it? Do you know a lot of Democrats happy with how things have gone since the party kicked ass in November, 2006?