So Barack Obama secured the necessary number of delegates to claim the Democratic nomination last night. And Hillary Clinton gave a speech that sounded like she thinks she won the nomination herself. Some wags are saying she's refusing to concede because it gives her more power over Obama, and she wants something (presumably the VP slot).
Honey, Obama won. He has more power over you than you will ever have over him. He has the power to say, hey, I'm going name somebody else my VP--anybody else. Anybody but Hillary. He can say that. What is she going to do? If he were to give a press conference today and say, it was an honor to run against Sen. Clinton and she's been a terrific candidate and competitor, and I look forward to the day when I am president that I can begin working with her in the Senate to take America forward. And now I'd like to introduce the person who I've asked to stand with me as my Vice Presidential nominee..." What the hell would she do? What could she do?
Would she seriously then go on the attack and attempt to bring Obama down before the convention? Would she do that? What would her justification be? Would she actually expect that the delegates pledged to Obama would then decide to vote for her instead, and not for somebody else? Does she think she would make friends among the superdelegates by doing that?
Does she think she's strengthening Obama in any way by saying I'm not going to concede in case he stumbles before the convention? All she's doing is putting out there the expectation that he will stumble before the convention, that there is something about him so awful that he shouldn't be nominated regardless of how many delegates he's won. That damages him meaningfully should he be nominated; it has, in fact, already damaged him in a way that won't really be in evidence until after August.
And that's the rub. Clinton has by her words and actions the last few months and especially yesterday (and I expect it to continue) done nothing but damage Obama as a general election candidate. She has not helped him. She clearly does not intend to do so. It is clear that she believes that by doing so, she increases the chances that she may yet somehow manage to win the nomination. But if she should do so by hook or crook (I'm going with crook), she will alienate the people who've supported Obama, far more than Obama has ever alienated any of Clinton's supporters.
She has weakened him. In doing so she has proven that she is interested more in her own needs than the party's needs, that she is driven more by self-interest than by the public interest. She has proven that she does not deserve the presidency, and that she does not deserve her party's nomination for the presidency.
But she still won't go away. That is why it would be a colossal mistake on Sen. Obama's part to name her to the Vice Presidency. She won't go away. She thinks she should be president, not vice president. Her husband is an even bigger problem. Both of them will work every day to undermine Obama's presidency, publicly and privately, to boost themselves. Obama cannot share the executive office with the Clintons; indeed, no one can. They wouldn't allow it.
There was a time when this wouldn't have concerned me as much as it does today. I still have mainly positive feelings toward John McCain. He supports a carbon-trading system and other moderately green initiatives. In the past he supported raising taxes to fund a war--and while I don't support the war, at least he recognized that all Americans, not just those in uniform, should be sacrificing in time of war. But of late he's backed off that stance, and now he supports extending Bush's tax cuts; flights of rhetoric aside, John McCain no longer seems to believe in giving Americans something bigger than their own self-interest to believe in. That was what I liked about him; he's always been more conservative than I am, but he used to be the only person on the national stage who talked about America needing more than the collected material self-interest of its people to reclaim its greatness. He still talks about that, but he no longer demonstrates any serious belief in it.
Perhaps that's just for crass political purposes, but what does that prove? Even after he had the nomination sewn up, McCain went on preaching his support of further tax cuts, and talking about having a military mission in Iraq for 100 years if necessary (look up the context, the man never said we'd be there for 100 years, only that if it was necessary, we should commit to that, rather than leaving a worse mess than we entered) without suggesting that anyone but the grunts in uniform would have to pay for it. That disturbs me. That has made me lose faith in the man.
And then he went and talked about the Supreme Court. And that sealed it for me; at one time I would have been relieved that he was the nominee, because I could have lived with him as president, because he was a reasonable man. But then, after he had the nomination, he went out and said that he would only nominate far-right anti-choice pro-executive Bushite wingnuts for the Supreme Court. And that I cannot support.
If he'd said he would prefer judges in the mold of a Kennedy or an O'Connor, that would have been terrific--and it would have supported the notion that McCain was a thoughtful and moderate Republican. Instead he said he'd appoint a bunch of Roberts/Alito wingnuts. Granted, he was talking to a bunch of wingnuts at the time, but he already had the nomination in hand. Why does he feel the need to comfort extremists? The right-wingers aren't going to defect from McCain to Obama (or Clinton). They aren't going to join up with Bob Barr and the Libertarians. And they're not going to jump ship to support some wingnut on a fourth-party ticket, no matter how much they threaten to, because A) they know they wouldn't win, and B) it would demonstrate incontrovertibly the impotence of their once mighty political movement (which they fear more than anything else). They may threaten to, sure. But in the end most of them are going to come home and support a Republican because they believe he's better than Obama (and they think Clinton is evil) and because it will give them leverage over McCain.
And what if they did jump ship? So what. Those people haven't given the Republican Party anything worth having, and if McCain owed his presidency to them, then it wouldn't be worth having. I used to think McCain actually believed that, too, and actually believed that the presidency wasn't worth having if to get it he had to prostrate himself before people whose beliefs he didn't support. But like most other politicians, he seems to have concluded that the presidency is a prize so valuable, so important to his sense of self-worth, that it's worth having no matter who you have to whore yourself out to to get it.
The question now is, is Obama of the same sort? Will he whore himself out to the Clintons, accept Hillary as VP and ensure four years of constant attempts to undermine his position and plan for America? Does he want the presidency so bad he'd take their bitter pill just to get it? Time will tell.
Senator Obama, please, I beg of you: don't take her. You don't need her. You don't want her. You will never be president in your own right if you have her (and Bill) in the office down the hall, and you will never be able to raise this country up with two crass, political leeches bent on sucking you down.