EDITORIAL: Time for Hillary to Hang It Up
Hillary Clinton is looking like a spoiler. For the sake of her party, she needs to make a graceful exit from the presidential campaign.
The dictionary defines a spoiler as "a person or group having little chance of winning that engages in a contest and spoils or alters the other participants' chances of success." We're certain that Clinton would not want to go down in history as the spoiler who, through hanging onto a divisive losing battle for too long, helped hand the presidential election to the Republicans.
Clinton has waged a tenacious fight, for which she deserves admiration. But her political fate was virtually sealed on Tuesday (who'd have thought our late North Carolina primary would ever play such a decisive role?), and still she vows that she's "staying in this race" to the bitter end. She takes that stand despite growing defections of her supporters to the Barack Obama camp and financial troubles that have required her to lend her campaign millions of dollars of her own money.
'Time to Face the Facts'
It would be one thing if Clinton were hurting only herself by her stubborn insistence in fighting on. But she's damaging her own party and Obama as well.
"Clinton now has maybe a 2 percent chance of winning the Democratic nomination," New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Thursday. "But if she pursues her losing battle, she has perhaps a 20 percent chance of costing the Democrats the presidency in the fall."
Moore County's own Democratic Party chairman, Brian Deaton, on Thursday added his thoughtful and diplomatic voice to those gently urging the former first lady to take stock of her situation and recognize that there is a time to wage war and a time to withdraw from the field in honor.
"It's time to get in touch with the math that's at play here," Deaton said. " ... it's time to face the facts that are there and get behind the candidate and get moving."
Sowing Seeds of Discord
Clinton keeps insisting that it's not over till it's over, that it is still possible for her to win, and that she would stand a better chance than Obama of beating McCain. Be that as it may, the fact is that there are only two possible (though mathematically unlikely) ways to pull it off, and either one would look underhanded and unfair and manipulative -- and would therefore sow seeds of discord just waiting to sprout in the fall.
The first of those two ways is by getting her way in her continuing demand that the votes from the Florida and Michigan primaries be counted. But that would amount to moving the goal posts in the middle of the game. The party ruled both primaries illegitimate ahead of time on the grounds that they were being held too early in defiance of the rules. (Obama wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. And he didn't campaign in Florida.
The second unfair way for Clinton to win would be by persuading or pressuring enough superdelegates to overrule the will of the majority of Democratic voters and vote for her, which would certainly touch off a civil war within the party. Does she really want to be held responsible for the consequences of that?
We can't blame Clinton for her reluctance to let go. But she's doing no one a favor -- least of all herself -- by turning such a blind eye to the handwriting on the wall.
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