Two weeks after Barrack Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination we're still talking about Hillary Clinton and whether or not she was mistreated during the primary. My own conclusion is that she was not.
When I think back over the past year I'm amazed that Hillary went from odds-on front runner to the abused underdog. It happened as a result of her quick and total pivot into the relentless warrior fighting on behalf of newly discovered constituency of blue collar workers from areas hit hard by many of the policies of both Bush's with a Clinton named Bill sandwiched in between.
Suddenly, the elites who funded her million dollar Hollywood and New York City fundraisers were missing from the new image of Hillary downing a shot and a beer with her new "hard working white friends" in Central and Western Pennsylvania. Amazingly, it was Obama who was now tagged as the elitist because of his "bitter" remark at his own California fundraiser.
I have a real problem thinking Hillary was mistreated in a manner different from any other candidate. This weekend, amidst all the retrospectives on the life of Tim Russert, one snip from his primary-season interview with Bill Richardson reminded me just how tough all these candidates have it at times. Russert was relentless in pursuing Richardson on his relationship to "big oil" becasue he sat on the board of directors of an oil company.
Ditto John Edwards. Once Clinton and Obama became hot media properties, Edwards could only get an above the fold headline when the meda felt it important to share the details of his expensive haircuts. Edwards would probably never say it, but it's arguable that from a media perspective, a middle-age white guy, running for president a second time, was just not as sexy or media-worthy as the head-to-head horserace that could be manufactured around a white-woman vs. black-man matchup.
It is interesting that the Clinton campaign regularly played the woman card by noting that as a woman, Hillary was a "change" candidate from the start. Oh really? Surely few would disagree that Hillary's tearful moment the day before the New Hampshire primary, benefited her in a way no male candidate could ever expect. It "humanized" her. A man doing the same would have reminded us of Ed Muskie and how his emotional campaign moment brought references to weakness and killed his presidential effort decades ago.
I wonder whether amidst the fast left and right wing conspiracies there's a vast Clinton conspiracy that includes both Bill and Hillary. Everything gets twisted to help them and, when necessary, they ignore the impact what they say or do may have on another Democratic politician or the party at large.
When Hillary commented that both she and Senator McCain had sufficient experience to be commander-in-chief, but that Senator Obama basically had nothing more than a speech, what was she thinking?
Sure there are little slights in a campaign. I thought the Obama people were wrong when they attacked Hillary's remark about needing a president, in addition to the hard work of Dr. Martin Luther King, to get a civil rights bill passed. I don't think Clinton was slighting Dr. King in the least.
But, it is hard to hear Hillary's endgame strategy in Ohio and Pennsylvania and not wonder what she was up to. A Democrat was basically saying "hey, I'm your girl because I can get all those white folks who won't vote for a black guy to vote for me in November." Is that "change you can believe in" as Hillary's friend McCain is apt to say lately?
Is it too much of a stretch to hear the unspoken and demeaning message that "oh, I'll get the white votes and the blacks will have nowhere to go, so they'll vote for me too."
Hillary's problem is that she did what she and Bill always do, and that's look out for themselves first. This whole idea that she won in states that the Ds need in November is basically without merit. Hillary was eager to point out that Gore and Kerry lost Ohio while Bill won it. What she didn't tell you is that Bill won it with a minority of votes becasue Ross Perot was in the race. Winning a three-way race is different from winning a real majority in a two-way race. When you drill down through both current and historical trends in Florida, there is no real evidence that Hillary's over-stated win in Florida's "we agreed not to campaign there" primary means anything. Regardless of the candidate a Democrat is going to have tough going this November in the Sunshine state.
There's a reason that the Democrats lost the House in 1994. There's a reason that the Democrats, aside from electing and re-electing Bill president, had little else to celebrate throughout the 1990s. Many think a big reason is that Bill did much to hurt Democrats and little to help during his tenure as head of the party.
The simple fact is that Hillary gave as much as she got. Neither her campaign nor Obama's is immune from criticism for some poorly worded comments during the primary. However, there is no evidence that Hillary was harmed by any form of sexism.
What is disburbing at this point is that supporters of both simply need to "get over it" and move on. The boos at Obama Rallies when Hillary is mentioned only invite the media to further exploit perceived divisions. The Clintonistas - even a small but vocal minority of them - advancing the idea of supporting McCain is sheer insanity.
What's really needed is a modified version of the Al Davis (owner of the Oakland Raiders football team) philosophy. It's called "just win baby." In other words all sides here need to nix the rhetoric, shut up, work hard for Obama, and win the election. All Democrats need to focus 110% on beating McCain. When you've finally won something, then you will actually have something to fight about. Right now all you've got is eight years of George Bush, a mess of a war, a messier economy, vanishing civil liberties, and the looming nightmare of four more years of the same with Quick-Draw McCain at the helm.