Saturday, June 7, 2008

How Will Hillary Bow Out?

Will Hillary Clinton embrace Barack Obama?

The Longest Good-bye.

Okay, we (Obama and his supporters - of which I count myself) have been magnanimous, although I'm sure our magnanimity has been perceived as condescension to the Clinton Camp. We've waited patiently for Hillary Clinton to take her time, to gather her thoughts, to collect her troops, to envisage her next move, but come on already. It's time to say good-bye, good-bye to the campaign trail, good-bye to the debates, the town halls, the meet and greets. It is time to say good-bye to the dream of becoming president of the United States. It is a lofty goal and to say good-bye to a dream so large is something I cannot imagine, although it is time to admit that this woman's dream is nearly as impossible as my dream of becoming an Indian when I grow up. That is not to say that a woman cannot seek and ultimately gain the position of Commander-in-Chief, but for this woman - it was not to be. There are myriad reasons why it just didn't work out - poor planning, ill-advice, stupid comments - many of these mistakes were not made by the candidate herself, but by her surrogates, her husband, her campaign manager, and other supporters (think Geraldine Ferraro). Nevertheless, it is past time to say good-bye, past time to endorse the only hope the Democratic Party has for reclaiming the White House in 2009, past time to concede that the race is over and somebody else won.

I am holding my breath, hoping beyond hope that Hillary Clinton will find it in her heart, her mind, her soul, to do today what she did not do on Tuesday night. That is find a way to graciously exit this contest with some of her dignity in tact. It is now completely up to her, up to the words she chooses, the signals she sends to her supporters, the path she takes. Because, just because Hillary Clinton is no longer in the race, does not mean that she is inconsequential in the role that she will play in getting us where we need to be. Her role in making sure that Barack Obama is our next president cannot be minimized or marginalized. Her supporters have been described as rabid, vehement, even slightly crazed (think Harriet of YouTube fame), but it is certain that they are looking to their leader, Hillary Clinton, and will take their cue from her as to how to proceed, how to work for a Democratic victory in November, whether to back Obama as the Democratic nominee.

Will Hillary Clinton speak the words to the older white women (a demographic that includes me) who have been her stalwart supporters that echo the words that she spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee when she endorsed Barack Obama with the words "I know Senator Obama will be a good friend to Israel"? Will she say that "Barack Obama will be a good friend to America, a good friend to women, a good friend to soldiers and working class people" as indeed he will be? Will she say "I endorse Barack Obama for president and you should, too"? Will her endorsement ring true or will it come tinged with the sour grapes from which so many of her supporters are feeling the stinging juice? Can she bridge the gap between experience and change? Will she back off enough to allow Obama the room he needs to make his very best choice of a vice presidential candidate? We will know the answers to these questions and more that I haven't thought to pose here, in just a little over an hour. Vamos a ver.... vamos a ver, indeed.

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