Thursday, June 05, 2008

Goodbye Hillary- for now

Well, it appears that after the primaries earlier this week, Hillary Clinton has bowed to the inevitable and is ending her candidacy for the Presidency. According to the story in the Associated Press,
Hillary Rodham Clinton will end on Saturday her historic bid to become the first woman president but Barack Obama said he won't be hurried into a decision on whether to make her his running mate.

Clinton, in an e-mail to supporters, said she "will be speaking on Saturday about how together we can rally the party behind Senator Obama. The stakes are too high and the task before us too important to do otherwise."

The e-mail was a shift in tone by the former first lady, who announced 17 months ago that she was "in it to win it." Many of her supporters now are pushing for her to be included as the vice presidential candidate, in their minds a "dream ticket" that would bring Obama her enthusiastic legions and broaden his appeal to white and working-class voters.

The Democratic Party has long based its strategy on the politics of race, sex and class division. In any other year, it seems certain that Hillary, despite her well-documented weaknesses as a candidate, would have swept to the nomination. However, Barack Obama, just as Bill Clinton did in 1992, took advantage of a relatively small field and the weakness of the front-runners to eke out a narrow victory in the primaries. However, there can be no doubt that neither Hillary nor Obama would have been in this position if it were not for their sex and color respectively. No white male with the thin resumes both of these candidates had would have been considered. However, Barack Obama is now the Democratic Party's candidate for President. Hillary now has to hope that she is offered a spot as the Vice-Presidential candidate.

I do not see Obama offering her the spot, however. Despite her appeal to a large percentage of the Democratic Party, I believe that she was more the anti-Obama candidate for voters who were appalled at Obama's arrogance, naivete, and the positions of some of his long-standing advisors. And the campaign exposed some serious fault-lines within the Democratic Party, between the various 'favored victim' groups, with personal dislikes between the candidates playing a factor as well. There is some real dislike between Hillary and Obama, and it may be too much to ask that they bury those before the general election. Of course, Democrats as a party are all about winning at any cost- they have a long history of being willing to say and do anything in order to get elected.

If Obama does put Hillary on the ticket, that will mostly assuage her supporters within the party. But on the other hand, it will certainly fire up the opposition. Hillary remains an incredibly divisive figure, and her inclusion on the ticket will bring out Republicans and conservatives who might otherwise sit this election out. I wold suspect that Obama will only put her on the ticket if he is forced to by Democratic Party leadership- if left to his own devices, I believe he will choose someone else- someone who is less well-0known and polarizing than Hillary.

And what of Hillary's own ambitions? If Obama wins, she cannot run for President again for eight years. However, if McCain wins, she will almost certainly run again in 2012. However, regardless of whether she runs in 2012 or not, I believe that this was her best chance to win. Unless she is the Vice-President in an Obama Administration, she will probably be facing a Vice-President in 2012. And she has now shown that she is very vulnerable in a national campaign- her stiffness, arrogance and general unlikability, coupled with her claims to experience she simply doesn't possess, make her unlikely to win against a serious opponent. the fact that she could not even beat Obama- and in fact lost to him- makes it unlikely she will win the big one. However, don't ever count the Clintons out. After all, there is always Chelsea...

So can Obama beat John McCain in the general election, with or without Hillary on the ticket? In part, it depends on McCain's campaign and his choice of a running mate. If he chooses wisely and if he runs a strong campaign, he could beat Obama, though ther is no doubt that he is an underdog- especially when one considers taht the antional Press corps will do everything in their power to elect Obama. After their narrow misses in throwing the election to Democrats in 2000 and 2004, the media is desperate to hand this one to Obama. Thus, McCain will be a decided underdog, but he has a resume and experience that Obama cannot hope to match. In addition, while Obama may like to hype his work as a 'community organizer', McCain has real service- he was a prisoner-of-war to the North Vietnamese while serving his country.

But I think ultimately the election will come down to whether or not McCain can pull the independent vote that the Democrats desperately need. I do not believe that McCain can count on the Democrats crossing over- they tend to be far more partisan and vote the party line, as opposed to actually comparing candidates. But if McCain can get the independents, then he has a real shot at beating Obama, despite the fact that this is shaping up to be a Democratic year in politics.

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