Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On Clinton's Outcome

EJ Dionne wrote an interesting article on the extremes of Hillary Clinton's ultimately disappointing campaign for president. Here are a couple of positives he sees from her (and her supporters') POV:

1) Hillary is finally her own woman: She started the race unable to escape her husband's considerable shadow, yet throughout the campaign she was far better off in the spotlight than when he took the lead. Bill seemed to be in the news for all the wrong reasons, but Hillary was a legitimate force with talent beyond President Clinton's reach.

2) She did her party a favor: Newsflash-- Democrats struggle with white working class men. Al Gore and John Kerry could never connect with them, and it cost both men the White House. For all Barack Obama's lofty rhetoric, big crowds and bulging war-chest, he, too, was vulnerable on issues that mattered to these voters. He may have been sliding down the Gore/ Kerry path to confounding Election Night loss. But Hillary's campaign forced him off the stage and into the trenches, connecting with the country's middle class backbone.

As Dionne put it:

Clinton, widely seen as the champion of older, well-educated feminist women, could be remembered as the politician who brought the party back to its working-class roots.
For all she's accomplished, and surely these two matters are mere snippets, Clinton has lost a lot as well. She has enormous debt-- some $20 million. Also, her and her husband's reputation in the Black American community, once sterling, will probably never fully recover.

For all the gains and losses, Dionne hopes that Clinton and her supporters emerge from their defeat with a sense of possibility. They failed in a major respect, but Sen. Clinton is more independent, and in many ways stronger, than she ever would have been had she coasted to her "inevitable" mid- winter nomination. Also, one of her allies, like Evan Byah, will likely wind up on Obama's ticket.

Senator Clinton will be a force, to the extent she wants. Dionne hopes she accepts this, and tackles the possibilities of a new role with the same tenacity she pursued the elusive Democratic nomination.

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