Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Naive, Thy Name Is Hilary

Blogging today (6/4/08) on The Huffington Post, Hillary Clinton supporter/pundit Hilary Rosen takes issue with with the tone and sentiments of the candidate's speech last (Tuesday) night:

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

We all should applaud Rosen's concluding declaration "I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat." As a Democrat, voter, and American, she is dead right.

But what kind of political strategist would she be? An "Al Gore moment." Yes, Gore gave a great speech when he conceded the presidency to George W. Bush, who had almost won the election. He remarked that evening, including self-deprecating irony:

I personally will be at his disposal, and I call on all Americans--I particularly urge all who stood with us--to unite behind our next president. This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done....Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.

In the words of our great hymn, "America, America": "Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea."

And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time for me to go.


All of America saluted Gore's comments, and respect and admiration for the Vice-President accordingly shot up. Six months later? Attitudes and opinions, postive and negative, about Mr. Gore returned to pre-election levels. And of course, 7-8 years later, the view of the Democrats' 2000 presidential nominee hinges mostly on partisanship and one's perception of Gore's environmental activism. And The Speech? Virtually irrelevant in calculating Gore's political prospects or his impact (past and present) on environmental and climatic policy.

So, if Hillary Clinton did not go out- or stay in- graciously last night, fret not. Her speech served mainly to preserve her options, which no doubt she will discuss with the presumptive nominee of the party.

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