Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What Clinton Didn't Say

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton declared her full support for Barack Obama. Her words were emphatic and helpful. However, while Clinton congratulated Obama on his victory, she still could not bring herself to do what she really needed to do - admit defeat. I wanted Clinton to begin her speech with four simple words, "The people have spoken." Instead, she spoke of glass ceiling with "18 million cracks in it." And she repeatedly referred to her accomplishments. She conceded that he was the nominee but not that she lost. Her message was, basically, we have to support him because he's a Democrat, and, well, he's the next best thing to me. Obama has been incredibly gracious in praising Clinton, but I believe he expected, and deserved, to have Clinton admit that she lost. The people have spoken, and they chose Barack Obama.

Clinton just could not bring herself to give a real concession speech. So for all her words, she did not tell her supporters what they really needed to hear: that she lost, fair and square. That is crucial. To go through the stages of grief - we've been through anger, bargaining, and denial - you need to get to acceptance. Clinton isn't there yet. She believes that she "really" won because of the popular vote, and lost due to the delegate math, and she nurtures feelings of being cheated among her supporters.

Of course that's not true. Not only did Obama win the popular vote by any fair measure, but the popular vote itself is not a fair measure. Caucus states have, on average, 1/3 to 1/4 of the voter participation rate of primary states. So if you only count the actual # of votes, a victory in Kentucky is "worth" two or three times a similarly-sized victory in similarly-sized Minnesota. Yes, Clinton does better if you systematically devalue states that choose to hold caucuses rather than
primaries - but that's not fair and it's not the Democratic party. National polls have, not surprisingly, consistently showed Obama ahead since Febraury.

Clinton should have said "the people have spoken, and they chose Barack Obama." Then she should have invited her husband to join her on stage and endorse Obama. Until all this comes to pass, it will be hard for Obama to win all of the votes of Democrats who were in the minority of their party.


Dr. Strangelove said...

My goodness! LTG is totally wrong on this one. Hillary could have wallowed in her defeat, and no doubt that would have pleased some folks immensely. But it would have left her supporters disheartened and discouraged. And it would have done nothing to help Obama.

Instead of telling her supporters they had wasted their efforts, Hillary told them they had still accomplished something. Instead of leaving her supporters with anger and bitterness, Hillary gave them a reason to stay proud and inspired. Instead of telling her supporters they had hit a dead end, she gave them a path forward. Instead of bemoaning, "No, we couldn't," she literally said, "Yes, we can."

As strongly as she could, Hillary told her supporters that the best way to honor all the work they had was to bring all their energy to help Obama. She said:

"The way to continue our fight now –- to accomplish the goals for which we stand –- is to take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States... We may have started on separate journeys –- but today, our paths have merged. And we are all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November... We will stand united for the values we hold dear, for the vision of progress we share, and for the country we love."

As a personal note, I was inspired by Hillary's speech. When she was finished, I visited Barack Obama's website, signed up, and contributed! I'll bet a lot of Hillary supports did that too. The community blog on Obama's website has quite a number of testimonials from former Hillary supporters who did the same. And as I write this, I am browsing Obama's web shop, looking to order a shiny new bumper sticker to replace the one I peeled off my truck yesterday.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'm of two minds about this post. On the one hand, I am satisfied that Clinton has now, however reluctantly, said enough for the Democrats to move on with the task at hand. And I think it would be best for the party to simply accept that this is as much as we're likely to hear from Clinton and just move on.

On the other hand I think that LTG is right that she's still not willing to admit that she lost "fair and square." She still thinks - or is willing to encourage others to think - that Obama "stole" the nomination somehow. She's still not leaving her inner "Tracy Flick" behind.

Finally, I will say that her behavior in this last phase of the primary campaign convinced me more than ever that I caucesed for the best candiate in Obama. Her campaign's message discipline completely fell apart starting the day before the South Dakota and Montana primaries. News agencies were being fed contradictory reports about whether and when and how she would conceed to and/or endorse Obama. At the same time, it was clear that she had to be publicly (the meeting was "private" but leaked immediately) scolded by a group of Congressional and Party leadersbefore she came to the realization that Obama had won. The series of speeches and public statements in this chaotic period sounded like a George Harrison song (I Me Mine). The vibe she was sending out (whether an accurate reflection of her character or not) was that she felt that this was about her first and foremost and the coutnry, party, issues and constituents were secondary concerns to be used as tools to further her own personal ambition. I've seen comments on blogs by Hillary voters who also deeply resented her attitude. I saw comments to the effect of "I'm a Democrat not a bargaining chip" on several blogs including Daily Kos.

All of that said, I think Obama will (and should) smile broadly, shake her hand and move on. People who insist on waiting for Hillary Clinton to say "I lost fair and square to the better run campaign (or better candidate)" will be waiting a very long time.

By the way, the Obama campaign website has a page entirely devoted to thanking Hillary and praising her accomplishments.

Raised By Republicans said...

I'll also point out to LTG that it probably doesn't matter. Her constituents are already shifting their support to Obama in large numbers. As I posted earlier this week, Obama already outperforms Kerry in several constituencies that were supposedly unwinnable for Obama without Clinton's active help. And the poll I was working from was taken well before Hillary gave anything even remotely like a concession speech.

Raised By Republicans said...

One last a voter from a caucuse state, the Clinton campaign talking point that they "won the popular vote" makes me extremely angry. Here they were demanding that "every vote (for them) count" while insisting in the very same breath that my vote should not.

But then I take a breath and realize it doesn't matter anymore.

USWest said...

I would just add here that I am pretty for sure that she has locked herself into a cabinet post with Obama. They met privately last week. And I bet she cut a deal.

Raised By Republicans said...

Either a cabinet post or head of a Presidential Commission on health care reform or something.

If I were in her position though I'd stay in the Senate until the governorship in New York opens up. The current governor is another Democrat (and an African American - so she would look a real shithead to challenge him in a primary), but he kind of backed into the job when Spitzer resigned over that whole whore thing. Even if he does run for reelection, the Governorship will be open years before 2016 and Clinton could run for President as Governor of New York. Then she actually would have the executive experience she claimed to have this time. More importantly, she'd also be able to run as something like an outside instead of the consumate Washington insider.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Well, if it inspired Dr.S to support Obama over McCain, that's a good thing. But I don't think Dr.S was ever the diehard Hillary Clinton voter, the 50 year old white woman that formed her base in the latter primaries.