Wednesday, June 4

The Hillary Problem: Welcome to the show that Never Ends.

The Democratic Nomination is over, except for it not being over.

Barack Obama is now the Presumptive Nominee for President of The United States. At least until the convention.

In the meanwhile, we have a strong second place finish by Candidate Hillary Clinton who has yet to acknowledge Obama's win, and yet to suspend her campaign and yet to concede defeat.

It's only been a single day, but instead of rallying her troops in solidarity with Barack to the greater fight that awaits us, by all indications and certainly based on her speech last night - Hillary Clinton is still in it to win it.

So what should Obama and his supporters do about this?

One thing they may have to admit is there isn't anything they can say that will make Hillary and her supporters happy. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't say them anyway.

Obama supporters could try to forgive Hillary for her MLK/LBJ comments, by admitting that her larger point was that it takes more than just inspiration to get things done, it also takes a skilled legislator and skill leader to implement our best aspirations. (Something which Barack has already shown by passing Health Care Bills, and Middle-class tax cuts as a State Senator as well as Nuclear anti-proliferation and ethics reform as a U.S. Senator)

They can try to forgive Bill Clinton for his South Carolina comments about Jesse Jackson, since his larger point was nothing more than what he said : Barack ran a great campaign and so did Jesse, period.

They can try to forgive Bob Johnson, because Bob's greater point was that Hillary was on the front-lines of the Civil Rights movement while Barack was still a kid who didn't yet know up from down. (Obviously, he's grown up since then.)

They can try to forgive Hillary's the "hard-working white voters" comments, since all she was doing was repeating what the press had already been saying for weeks.

They can try to simply put Geraldine Ferraro out of sight and out of mind.

They can try to forget and forgive the "3 Am", Sniper-fire, Bitter-gate and "Slum-lord" talk as simply being the result of the heat of the campaign. Hard fighters can sometimes swing wide.

As the ultimate winner of the contest, Barack and his supporters have room to be forgiving. This we should do not because we need to appease and placate those who still feel passionately about Hillary, but simply because, it's the right thing to do and it costs us nothing.

The one thing that IMO is pretty much impossible to ignore or forgive, at least not yet, is Hillary's continued insistence that she has "Won the Popular Vote" when the Magical Math needed to justify that statement requires the disenfranchisement of 14 Caucus States, plus all the uncommitted and write-in votes from Michigan.

That's not a misstatement, that's not a typo, that's not matter that's "open to interpretation" - it's a deliberate manipulation and as such, it's a bit much to swallow.

It's a direct denial of Barack's Win. It's a challenge to his legitimacy, one which can not be allowed to stand for the good of the party.

It's become clear based on her actions and her speech yesterday, that Hillary intends to leverage her popular vote numbers and her high delegate count in order to issue demands and ultimatums upon the Obama campaign.

Her goal may be to shoe-horn her way into the Shootgun Wedding of a VP slot. It may be to push Obama to adopt policy positions (such as on Health Care) which are more in line with hers. Whatever her ultimately goal, what matters is how Obama responds.

Obama and his supporters can certainly afford to be gracious and magnanimous - but one thing they can't afford to be are pushovers!

Clinton may indeed have made history this year, she may have indeed drawn much of the Democratic Party to her side - but before Barack gives her the keys to the White House washroom, she still needs to put in some much needed work first. She needs to show that the can bring her army into line, begin to merge forces with Obama and display her willingness to be a team player and help heal the party in preparation for Movember before he starts giving her stuff willy nilly.

He's the winner, he has to set the agenda.

If he allows the loser to dictate terms to him, then he really is every bit as weak as she has long been intimating and in fact, she really is the stronger candidate.

This has now become a behind the scenes negotiation/poker/staring contest between the two of them over who will begin to start providing concessions first - and my money is still on Barack to be last person standing when the dust settles. He holds the card that matters, He's The Nominee!

Barack may be gracious outwardly but behind the scenes he's going to have to be tough, hard-nosed, and make her blink by holding his ground and displaying HIS leadership ability as the newly annoited head of the Democratic Party.

It's not going to be fun, it's not going to be pretty. It may take some time for these negotiations to play themselves out. The Hillacrats will certainly cry "foul", will certainly accuse Barack of "ignoring the will of the people", but this is the way it has to go because if Hillary can strong-arm Barack it will only undermine his own support, pissing off many of them who can't bring themselves to forgive Hillary for her scorched-earth campaign and galvanize all of the Republican talking points about his "inexperience and naivette".

It's admittedly possible that if Hillary doesn't get "WHAT SHE WANTS" she could hold-out with her delegates and force a floor fight for VP during the convention, since both President and Vice-President have to be confirmed by a vote of the delegates. She could still take this battle all the way to the wall.

It would be better for everyone if that didn't happen. That would ensure that he loses in November, and none of us can afford that.

Short of a quick capitulation by Barack or a contentious floor fight over VP, there is a path that may ultimately allow Hillary a spot on the ticket or even in the cabinet, say as head of HHS, if she is willing to do the right thing for the party by showing a willingness to fight FOR our Democratic Nominee WITHOUT CONDITIONS OR ULTIMATUMS as she was willing to fight against him to win the Nomination herself. However, continuing to try and use sharp elbows is only going to backfire and make her not only unwelcome and unpalatable as a member of the Obama Administration, it could make her poisonous to nearly all Democrats and shorten her political career.

I have confidence that Barack will do the right thing.

Let's hope that Hillary, for the sake of the Democratic Party and for the sake of the Nation, can make the difficult - but correct - choices in the days and weeks ahead.


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