For the good of the party, for the good of the country

The Politics Beat column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

I was planning to use this column to blast Hillary Clinton.

“I will be making no decisions tonight.” Famous last words, right?

But then Barack Obama took the stage in St. Paul, Minn., and did what Hillary should have done in New York.

“You chose to listen not to your doubts or your fears, but to your greatest hopes and highest aspirations,” the presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee said tonight after splitting the final two primaries of the ’08 campaign season, winning in Montana and losing to Clinton in South Dakota.

“Tonight, we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another – a journey that will bring a new and better day to America. Because of you, tonight, I can stand before you and say that I will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.”

And so now the party can begin to come back together and work toward a victory in November that the country definitely needs.

“There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker and more divided. Well, I say that because of this primary, there are millions of Americans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There are independents and Republicans who understand that this election isn’t just about the party in charge of Washington, it’s about the need to change Washington. There are young people, and African Americans, and Latinos, and women of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records and inspired a nation,” Obama said.

That’s pretty conciliatory, considering how divisive the past two and a half months have been – how unnecessarily divisive they’ve been, I should say. Think about it – the Jeremiah Wright issue has come and gone since Obama all but wrapped up the race in March. The issues with white blue-collar voters in West Virginia and Kentucky that Hillary and former president Bill Clinton have tried to create for Obama has come and gone.

One could argue that it was a good thing that those issues were put out there for the Obama campaign to work through now rather than in the general-election campaign. Obama himself made that argument tonight. “I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton,” he said to polite applause.

Clinton, for her part, is clearly angling for the vice-presidential nomination that a few weeks ago she didn’t want to consider an option. That’s the only way to describe her strange resolve in the face of basic arithmetic.

“In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way,” Clinton said moments after making reference to her “18 million supporters,” actually 17.4 million not counting the 300,000-plus that voted for her in a primary in Michigan on which Obama was not even on the ballot, per Democratic National Committee advice, and her promise to “hear from you” before making whatever decision she is going to make in the next few days, weeks, months, whatever.

Obama addressed the VP issue in his own way. “You can rest assured that when we finally win the battle for universal health care in this country, she will be central to that victory. When we transform our energy policy and lift our children out of poverty, it will be because she worked to help make it happen,” Obama said of Clinton, leaving unclear whether her efforts will come from her seat in the U.S. Senate or from the office of vice president of the United States.

I can’t think that Clinton would be an asset to Obama on the national ticket, even considering her 17.4 million supporters. The reason – that unfavorable rating that is in the 45 percent range in the polls. And I’m wondering how many of those who view her unfavorably are Democrats and leaning Democrats. A recent Gallup poll had 59 percent of self-identified Democrats saying that they think Clinton should have already dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.

And she’s continuing to hang on … why, again?

I had promised not to use this column to blast Clinton, and I’m getting close to doing that now.

I will leave it at this – Hillary, please follow Barack’s lead, and let’s begin working together toward Nov. 4. For the good of the party that you’ve given your adult life to advancing, and more importantly, to this country that we all love and cherish with everything that we are about.


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