They Aren’t Going Anywhere

That’s what the headline said at the top of Huff Post this morning. The headline, which could have more than one meaning, was in response to calls yesterday that Democrats should tone down the rhetoric or are facing devastaing consequences, or that the solution was for Clinton to drop out of the race.

That’s an awful lot of “hatin’ on” for one day, and that’s from people in her party. Peggy Noonan, never one to miss a Hillary hating moment, used the opportunity to cut clean to the bone in her WSJ screed.

Damn, that’s a rough day.

By the end of it, Todd Beaton from MyDD had enough. To be honest, so had I. I scrapped my 1000 word screed and started thinking about this in a different slightly way.

Quit is not a word that is in the Clinton vocabulary. It just isn’t. Sometimes that works for them, sometimes against. Either way, it’s a lifestyle choice, and once it’s a part of you, it isn’t going away.

This behavior pattern has played out throughout their time in the public eye. From Hillary’s refusal to back down on her Iraq vote, all the way back to Bill’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” moment, or the “Hillcare” debacle and that’s just the bad stuff. The Clinton family’s refusal to quit also made sure that the Republican controlled Congress in the 90’s didn’t run roughshod over the will of the will President. Bill consistently got the better of a bad deal by skillfully maneuvering, and it worked, by and large, at least in the media.

It is the refusal to quit that has made the Clintons a force in our political discourse for the past 30 years. And like so many things that involve the Clintons, it is this tenacity that has been at once an asset and a liability.

Looking at the contests ahead, there is little chance that the current lead enjoyed by the Obama camp will be significantly diminished. There just aren’t enough states out there, with enough delegates to make the difference. However, in the mind of a Clinton, this is not a reason to back down, this is a reason to fight even harder, think outside of the box, work like hell to make it happen, damn the consequences. That’s where we’re at right now.

Calls for Hillary to give up the ghost will only serve to make her hold on even tighter. She’ll fight harder, and the wounds suffered by the eventual Democratic nominee will just be deeper. Like it or not, right or wrong, that’s the reality. From my perspective, the task is not to try and get her to bow out, but to motivate her to stop attacking her nomination opponent in a way that ultimately hurts the party.

Hillary is under the false impression that she is running for the Democratic nomination. While this is technically correct, in all reality, she is running for office of the President of the United States. By focusing primarily on the nomination battle, she actually diminishes her campaign. Both Obama and Hillary should be focusing on the campaign through November, instead of making the end game in August. By making the end game August, the resulting standoff will create the mutually assured destruction that is the only way John McCain can win in November.

It’s not mathematically impossible for Clinton to get the nomination, and until it is, she will fight with every fiber of her being to make sure that she doesn’t get marginalized by anyone, be they media, other politicians, or the party apparatus. By shifting her campaign to a full on presidential fight, she has three weeks to see how her electability against McCain fares in the umpteen polls that will certainly come out before and after the PA primary. Further, in the four contests that come after PA, just two weeks later, she has the opportunity to shift her rhetoric from beating the party up, to taking John McCain down. Ultimately, defeating John McCain is the goal of both the Democratic candidates in the long term. It’s way past time for both of them to adopt that strategy.

I don’t think this will happen, because I don’t think Clinton is really running for President. She’s running to be the head of the Democratic Party. She’s running to regain some of that standing that the Clintons lost when they left the White House under a cloud. On some level, I think she feels cheated that she couldn’t run in 2000. It’s a psychologically messed up place to operate from, but that’s basically what she’s been doing since her campaign for Senate in 2000.

Nope, the Clintons aren’t going anywhere folks. We can’t make them give up either. We do have a responsibility to our party and the country to express, in a way that is basically tough love, our displeasure with her rhetoric against her nomination opponent. It is our duty to put pressure on her to stop raising up John McCain over Barak Obama. It’s hurtful for our party, regardless of who wins the nomination. This isn’t a zero sum game. What is said now has a huge impact on what happens in November.

The time to ratchet up the pressure to drop out may or may not come on May 7th. In any case, the way to get a Clinton to disengage is not with a stick, but a carrot. It’s time for the party to start thinking about what those solutions might be now, so they’re ready when and if the time comes. I hope it comes soon.

0 Replies to “They Aren’t Going Anywhere”

  1. Yeah, I definitely think the “damage” this is doing to the party is overblown. However, if Hillary is going to stay in the race she should make the case for herself rather than try and tear Obama down. It doesn’t do her or the Democratic party any good to hurt the person who has a 95% shot at being the eventual nominee.

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