STEVE BOUSER: For Hillary, It Always Had to Be About Her
This is expanded from an "Editor's Note" blog item on thepilot.com.
I don't know exactly when Sen. Hillary Clinton lost the nomination, but I know when she lost me.
That moment came more than three months ago -- on March 3, when Clinton stood before the microphones and delivered herself of the following remark:
"I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002."
Her voice fairly dripped with venom. Despite her best efforts not to, she sounded like -- well, like a rhymes-with-witch.
And that statement didn't represent just a momentary lapse of judgment on the part of a tired candidate in the middle of a heated primary campaign. Clinton made the same kind of comment a couple of other times in other venues -- prompting Keith Olberman of MSNBC to ask: "Is it unfair to say that she just ranked Obama third on this topic behind the Republican that she and the Democrats are supposed to be blood-oath-sworn to defeat?"
It wasn't unfair at all. It was true.
What came across at that moment was a Lady Macbeth who had lost her sense of balance -- someone who felt so deeply that she had some kind of God-given (or Bill-given) entitlement to the presidency that, when things began to turn against her, she was willing to pursue a scorched-earth policy of reaching out to aid and abet the enemy if that's what it took to keep one's overweening ambition alive.
People say bad things about each other during primaries and then kiss and make up in the general election. But I can't think of another time when a candidate wanted to win so badly that he or she compared a fellow party member invidiously with the other party's front-runner. Don't think the McCain campaign will miss an opportunity to make the most out of that bit of footage between now and November: Obama is so weak on foreign policy that even fellow Democrat Clinton prefers our guy.
That kind of go-for-the-jugular attitude is why I think the Democratic Party is better off without Clinton as its standard-bearer. It's also why Clinton may be waiting for a long time if she expects Obama to pick her as his running mate. Though expediency may yet prevail in that regard, he doesn't seem like the kind of fellow who would relish spending his days watching his backside.
Besides: What is this "lifetime of experience" that Hillary would bring to the White House? Does spending years as a CEO's wife necessarily give someone what it takes to run the company?
I confess to having grown weary of all the breathless talk about how Clinton is the first woman to have risen this far in a presidential campaign, etc., etc. I'm sorry, but this does not seem like something in which the feminist movement can take much justified pride. I mean, we're not talking about a Margaret Thatcher here, battling her way from obscurity to the top (the way Obama did, by the way). We're talking about someone who is where she is primarily because she's somebody's wife.
She almost wasn't. Years ago, when Clinton began insisting on being referred to as "Hillary Rodham Clinton," I was certain it was part of a plan to divorce Bill, take back her maiden name, and go out on her own as Hillary Rodham. For whatever reason -- concern about Chelsea's psychological well-being, perhaps -- that never ended up happening. That's the family's business, not ours.
But to my thinking, such an independent course would have deserved far greater respect than trying to have it both ways -- by claiming a trailblazer gender status in the political arena while at the same time milking the name of one's faithless husband for all it's worth. Is it just me, or is there something kind of cheesy and demeaning about that?
Even in defeat, Clinton couldn't quite manage to summon the graciousness the occasion demanded. It was way last Tuesday that Obama got a lock on the delegates needed for the nomination. But not until Saturday -- four days later -- did Clinton finally concede defeat and throw her support to him. And even then, the press and the nation had to be kept waiting forever (the Clintons are always late to everything) while news cameras breathlessly followed her motorcade to the auditorium where she made a grand entrance to deliver her announcement before adoring throngs.
To the very end, it had to be all about her.
Steve Bouser is editor of The Pilot. Contact him at email@example.com.
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