On One Hand

June 3, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s June 3 Victory Speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 9:53 pm
Tags: ,

Bloggers and pundits have lamented Hillary Clinton’s victory speech that she gave in New York after news stations called the South Dakota primary for her. The point of contention was Clinton’s failure to to concede the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, and that she said she wouldn’t announce the future of her campaign that evening.

I would argue that Hillary Clinton’s speech was as close to a concession as anyone could expect, and was as graceful and eloquent as anyone could have asked. She started out by praising Barack Obama and his campaign, then went over the strengths and merits of her own candidacy. Then she gave a heartfelt overview of the issues that she and the Democratic Party are supporting this fall, explaining that it is for these reasons that she ran for office, and also making a compelling issues-based case, though indirectly, that her supporters should turn to favor Barack Obama who has nearly the same platform as she.

It’s rare for candidates to drop out the night of a losing primary, let alone a primary that the candidate won. A dropout is especially unlikely when someone has fought as long and hard as Hillary Clinton did this year. Edwards waited untill the morning after his final primary to withdraw, and it’s the normal thing to do for presidential candidates in a primary election when there are more contests to come. Though some of the merits of her continued contention are absurd – like the argument that Michigan’s votes should count towards the popular vote total even though Barack Obama wasn’t on the ballot – the race still ended up strikingly close, and of late her argument has been less about becoming the Democratic nominee and more about a sentimental insistence that losing candidates should not drop out until the final vote has been cast. Right now a few superdelegates remain, and Hillary Clinton will have fulfilled her rhetorical commitment to outlast the entire contest by waiting until all of them have declared their support for a candidate.

Hating Hillary Clinton can’t possibly restore party unity and won’t help Barack Obama in any way. Since it is already obvious that Obama is the nominee, Hillary Clinton is no longer a threat, so Obama supporters gain nothing by criticizing her. A few more news cycles will see her exit the race. The best thing to happen now is a steady transition toward unity between the two campaigns, which can happen over a number of days rather than hours. It’s already June, and those who say Clinton hung on too long (and kept a negative tone toward Obama for far longer than she should have) are correct in saying so, but a couple more days of indecision, assuming Clinton says nothing negative about Barack Obama, aren’t going to hurt anything, and could possibly help bring her supporters around more smoothly. Barack Obama has clearly decided that the best thing for him is to praise Hillary Clinton and welcome her supporters into his camp in a friendly and open way. That case is helped if Obama’s supporters do the same thing.

Clinton’s scorned supporters are immediately settling for the less-appealing option of asking their girl to be picked as Barack Obama’s vice-presidential nominee. While this is probably not going to happen, it’s a temporary false hope that will ease the pain of the transition for Clinton supporters, and can’t hurt. She and Obama are going to meet and talk about what to do next, and there is talk that she doesn’t even want the VP spot but will allow Obama to stage an invitation as a gesture of unity. I think there’s reason for optimism that Clinton’s next actions will be well-coordinated with the strategy of the Obama campaign and will be helpful to electing Obama as president.

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4 Comments »

  1. Haha, THE next post on my f-list is “Oh my god Hillary is such a bitch”

    Comment by 477150n — June 4, 2008 @ 12:36 pm | Reply

    • But I totally agree with you, dem’s can’t afford to alienate her supporters.

      Comment by 477150n — June 4, 2008 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

      • And she has a shitload. This is no clearcut victory. It’s telling that she kept winning primaries (a loose term, win, given the split delegates) up to the last day. It’d be foolish to ignore that populist but wonkish segment.

        My family, staunch military family Democrats always, are in that camp. My father sees Obama as an effete McGovern/Dukakis and my mother “isn’t impressed by him; it’s all empty rhetoric”. It’s going to be hard to change these pervasive thoughts that’ll either stay at home or turn into McCain votes.

        Comment by erichowens — June 4, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

      • My grandma (the one who loves Obama) just called to tell me how excited she is that the nomination is over but that I’d “better hope he doesn’t pick Hillary” because she just convinced my grandpa (the military one) to vote for Obama but he won’t if Hillary Clinton is on the ticket.

        When I suggested Wesley Clark is more likely, she said I should call up the Obama campaign and tell them because that is a great idea.

        My guess is that it’s going to take a lot of market research before they know if Hillary Clinton is an asset or not. I actually think that what they might do is stage an offer if they know she will decline it.

        Comment by ononehand — June 4, 2008 @ 11:34 pm


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