You might not have guessed it based upon what I’ve had to say lately, but once upon a time I was a hardcore Bill Clinton supporter. I also always held Hillary in very high regard. I can remember nodding my head enthusiastically when, during the 1996 Democratic Convention, Rev. Jesse Jackson said of Hillary Clinton, we must “protect the First Lady, too, from their mean-spirited attacks.”
I was thrilled when she was elected to the senate.
As recently as a few months ago, I was legitimately undecided as to who to support for the nomination.
For those of us who hung with the Clintons through all of the malicious attacks of the 90s, it’s hard to let go. I can remember my growing anger as the media breathlessly covered one right wing smear against Bill and Hillary after another. In fact, one of the first things I ever posted on the web was a rant against the media’s coverage of Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich. A brief quote shows just how much of a clintonista I once was:
No matter. As has always seemed to happen with Bill Clinton, what started as nothing more than rank speculation that wrong doing had occurred quickly grew into a presumption of wrong doing — based not on evidence, but on the intensity of the speculation itself. Many ultimately discredited allegations against Clinton worked their way up the journalistic food chain in just this way — Drudge in the morning, talk radio at lunch, Fox in the afternoon, then NBC, ABC and CBS later that night.
It was the same sad song, played again and again. Let’s all sing it together:
The rumor bone’s connected to the Drudge bone,
the Drudge bone’s connected to the Rush bone,
the Rush bone’s connected to the Fox bone,
the Fox bone’s connected to the MSNBC bone,
the MSNBC bone’s connected to the CNN bone,
the CNN bone’s connected to the pundit bone.
Now hear the word of the Lord.
But if it’s been hard to let go of the Clintons, it’s been getting steadily easier as the campaign’s worn on. The 3:00 A.M. ad was bad; the “Commander-in-Chief test” semi-endorsement of McCain was worse; and the seemingly endless “right on the edge” appeals to racial resentments were worse still.
None of this, however, was even in the same league as Hillary’s latest maneuvers in trying to reignite the Rev. Wright controversy in order to draw attention away from her own lies, while, at the same time, her campaign’s been busily distributing right wing propaganda suggesting that Barack Obama may be an anti-Semite.
As Atrios wryly notes in response to the latter development (speaking for many disgruntled former clintonistas):
Remember back in junior high, when you had that friend that the bullies picked on all the time? And you defended that friend, who really never did all that much for you, which led to you getting your ass kicked a few times yourself? And then you got to high school and your friend joined up with the bullies? It’s kind of like that.
As many other people have noted, Clinton is clearly waging a scorched earth campaign designed to achieve nothing less than the complete destruction of Barack Obama. She isn’t doing it out of personal animosity. While Hillary clearly doesn’t particularly like Obama, in the famous words of The Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s business.” Destroying Obama is now her only chance of winning the nomination.
And if she destroys the Democratic Party’s chances of winning in November in the process, hey, shit happens.
A debate has been raging among liberal commentators over whether Hillary is deliberately trying to sabotage Obama’s chances in November in order to throw the election to McCain, thereby leaving her with a clean shot at the nomination in 2012. Personally, I don’t buy it. But the mere fact respected people are seriously entertaining this as a possibility, is evidence enough of just how divisive Hillary Clinton has become within the Democratic Party.
To nominate Clinton under these circumstances, in the face of a successful negative campaign to “destroy” Obama, would be suicidal. It simply can’t be allowed to happen.
Barack Obama will almost certainly end up being the nominee of the party, and that’s as it should be. So far, he’s taken Hillary’s best shots and come out — while perhaps wobbling a bit — definitely still standing. He’s inspired millions of new voters in a way no other potential candidate could possibly match. He offers the Democratic Party its best chance of building a lasting new majority (although at the same time he’s also one of the riskiest candidates the party could have turned to).
For better or worse, this is Barack Obama’s year.
But if something unexpected were to happen, leaving Obama a nonviable candidate, it would be a huge mistake to automatically turn to Hillary Clinton, especially if it’s her knife in Obama’s back that brought him down. That would tear the party apart. Besides, having lost in the battle for pledged delegates she is in no position to claim a right to the nomination.
I know I’ve touched on this before, but now I’m going to say it explicitly. Should this unlikely chain of events actually come to pass, someone other than Hillary, most likely Al Gore, will need to be the nominee.
If we do end up with a brokered convention, God forbid, let’s at least broker it wisely.
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