Thursday, June 5

The Final Intervention of Hillary

Unless something dramatic and miraculous happens, this will be my last post about Hillary Clinton until after November.

On the night that Barack Obama was decleared the presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton made these statements...

Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as commander-in-chief and lead our country to better tomorrows?

People in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard. And on election day after election day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly 18 million of you cast your votes for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history.

And this:

In all of the states, you voted because you wanted a leader who will stand up for the deepest values of our party, a party that believes everyone should have a fair shot at the American dream, a party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote.

Translation: I really won, and we were robbed.

Just over 24 hours later Howard Fineman on Olberman reported Clinton will be conceding and endorsing Obama this weekend, at about 4:10 into the video:

... [A]nd to add to what Andrea was just talking about, there was another conference call involving senators, eight senators who were supporters of Hillary's, very hard core supporters of Hillary Clinton's.

And here's the added wrinkle to it: they were urged to assemble that conference call and to speak frankly to Hillary by some of the top strategists around Hillary -- I can't use the names -- but people you would associate with a hard-line defense of Hillary's position, who called the Senate and said "Look. You guys are Hillary's strongest supporters -- you gals also. Get in there and tell her to get out."

And we're talking about senators such as Barbara Mikulski, and Ben -- and Senator Nelson, and even Chuck Schumer, and others were reached out to by people around Hillary, strategists who said "You've got to get to her and get her out of this thing." And that's what they accomplished by this afternoon, so she will do it on Friday, she will get out of the race -- suspend, use whatever word you want -- but more important, endorse Barack Obama.

This was soon confirmed by a blog post and email to her supporters

I wanted you to be one of the first to know: on Saturday, I will hold an event in Washington D.C. to thank everyone who has supported my campaign. Over the course of the last 16 months, I have been privileged and touched to witness the incredible dedication and sacrifice of so many people working for our campaign. Every minute you put into helping us win, every dollar you gave to keep up the fight meant more to me than I can ever possibly tell you.

On Saturday, I will extend my congratulations to Senator Obama and my support for his candidacy.

The time has come to put down the warclubs, to take a step back and take a deep breath. The campaign is over, and Hillary Clinton did not win - Barack Obama did.

I still hope, as I have previously stated, that Hillary does more than make a simple announcement, I do hope that she begins to actively campaign for her supporters to merge with his supporters so that we will be absolutely assured of taking the White House in November.

She doesn't have to do that, because as of right now and the true Presidential Race begins Barack Obama has a 287 to 227 Electoral Vote lead over McCain. He is winning at least fives states, Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri and OHIO that John Kerry lost in 2004. Keeping and extending this lead is where our focus now needs to shift.

In addition to this we are looking at having 58 Democratic Seats in the Senate - with a reasonable shot at 61 - and 237 seats in the House.

If we handle things correctly, this will be an absolute rout as well as a glorious sea-change in the direction of nation.

Pardon me if I join Oprah in doing a "Happy Dance", I just won't be jumping on the couch.


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.


Obama's: This is Our Time Speech

Tuesday, June 3

Now is Hillary's Chance to show Character and Leadership

As the AP has reported, the Democratic Primary race is now effectively over.

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, becoming the first black candidate to lead a major party into a campaign for the White House. Vanquished rival Hillary Rodham Clinton swiftly signaled an interest in joining the ticket as running mate.

Tonight, or at worst case tomorrow, Obama will achieve the magic Number - but the question remains, particularly if Obama does not immediately reciprocate her push to be VP, while Clinton and put Country and Party ahead of her own personal aspirations and finally begin doing the right thing?

Will she put down the sword and pick up the plowshare to start reinvesting in the the party infrastructure and unity - or will she continue to refuse to concede and still "take this alll the way to the convention" as Harold Ickes threated to do just three days ago?

It's clear that Hillary's supporters still have very raw and hurt feelings. People are feeling robbed. They're feeling let down. Even though many of us has been predicting this would happen for months, they are still stunned.


Because Hillary's campaign has worked so hard to create this illusion that in some mystical magical way - Obama wasn't going to be the nominee.

Well, within a few hours, Obama the Demoractic Nominee will be the reality.

People understandibly will begin going through the well documented five stages of grieving. Technically we've already been through Denial and are still deep in midst of Anger. We may have already begun to move into Bargining with Hillary's not so subtle push for the VP slot.

Eventually we're going to hit Depression, some may never leave that stage. Others, with luck, will eventually reach Acceptance.

I do know how hard this can be, because I didn't vote for Obama when I had the chance. My candidate was John Edwards, and even after he dropped out of the race I Still Voted For him Anyway, so I may have a slightly unique stance as I ask many of you to put down your hard feelings and consider putting Democrats back in the White House to be your first and greatest priority.

I had to go through my own candidate grief, and it took a while before I finally understood and embraced Obama. (Possibly reading how I went through that process might help some of you. It wasn't because I disliked or was biased against Hillary, it was because of what Obama brought to the table that no one else does.)

Even in the midst of all this I've still given Hillary credit for making Obama a better candidate. Hillary has fought hard for this nomination and she deserves credit for all her efforts, but the true test before her is whether she will fight just as hard to help the party and her supporters in particular through this process.

Will she fight just as hard to defeat John McCain even if she isn't on the ticket? And if she is on the ticket, will that sour support for Obama himself for accepting her?

It may not be nice to hear it, but she has long way to go to rebuild the trust with many Obama supporters and especially with many of the black community. She's exploited the working-class white community and helped drive an existing wedge and division even deeper.

She's dug a whole so deep she's going to need a backhoe to fill it again.

I frankly have my doubts that she's up to this challenge, just as I have my doubts that many Obama supporters are going to be in a forgiving mood anytime soon.

I've written more than once that Obama supporters have to anticipate that they're going to have effectively write many of Hillary's supporters off. Some of them are far too bitter. Some of them are far too hurt to come over to our side. I've strongly suspected that Obama will just have to go on without her and many of her supporters, even though that might significantly shrink the chances of a Democratic victory - he and we may have to do it anyway if she doesn't rally her supporters to Obama and our cause.

I do hope I'm wrong about that.

I do hope that she will show the kind of leadership and character that has inspired so many to support her with such fervor. I hope she does the right thing, suspends her campaign and concedes this nomination rather than continuing the death cage-match that has bruised feelings and generated a chasm within the party.

I hope she really steps up to the plate tonight and accepts the challenge that only she can fulfill.

I'm not expecting it, but I do hope for it - for it would be a truly glorious thing for the Democratic Party and for the Nation.

I pray I do not hope in vain.


Sunday, June 1

Unity Takes Two

You can't make a horse drink from water he doesn't want, you can't make someone accept an outstretched hand toward unity if they just plain don't want it, and you can't convince people of facts and realities they just refuse to accept.

Ickes on CNN complaining that Obama Hijacked 4 Delegates from Hillary

In this video Clinton's Campaign Manager Harold Ickes accuses the Obama campaign of theft, and even suggests the Hillary could still win the nomination with the support of the remaining uncommitted delegates. As of now she needs 240 out of the remaining 290 total uncommitted Super and Pledged Delegates.

That's 82.9%

In what bizarro upside-down world is that likely to happen?

Ickes has to know that Hillary can't win this, that everything he's doing and she's going will make the eventual Big Walk Back for her campaign ans supporters harder and harder.

There's only one way to look at this left - they have no intention of walking it back, ever!

All this Sturm und Drang is over 4 Delegates. FOUR. This is the sword they choose to fall on?

The more moderate supporers of Hillary will certain join with the rest of the party but the most rapid of Hillary's Evil Mob knows that this won't be over in another two days. It won't be over in Denver. The Humpty-Dumpty Democratic Party is broken and won't be coming back together despite the clearly noble efforts by Henry Wexler, Karl Levin, Donna Brazile and others this weekend to do exactly that. The most vapid of Hillary's supporters aren't going to listen to the facts or the reality, they aren't going to consider this to be a fair compromise or a generous gesture, they're going to listen Ickes when he says...

Ickes: They Hijacked - they just reached in and took four delegates from Hillary. It's unprecedented. It's unheard of. It's quite incredible.


Hillary got 73 delegates (out of Michigan) and Uncommitted got 55. Mr. Obama decided for strategic and tactical reasons to withdraw his name from the ballot. He didn't have to, nobody asked him to. He did it for his own strategic reasons. And now he says "Oh my goodness, I want these Delegates" - not only do I want the 55, but oh, by the way, I want the four of Hillary's

After these kinds of fighting words, accusing Obama of being a craven manipulative thief, they aren't unifying with anyone. Certainly not with Obama supporters and the Democratic Party once he becomes the nominee.

Let's be clear first of all every candidates except Hillary, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel took their names off the ballot, which includes Obama, Biden, Edwards and Richardson. (Kucinich sued to be taken off, but wasn't) They did it because Iowa and New Hampshire asked them to honor the DNC decision. If Ickes wants to call those states "Nobody" - that's his call.

As things stood prior to the RBC meeting - no one was going to get any delegates. Clinton now has 69 more than she did before, but apparently that just isn't enough for her, she wants all 73 and she wants Obama to get ZERO - even ignoring the "Fair Reflection" of 30,000 voters who specifically Wrote Obama's Name In.

Other's have been over this in far better and greater legal detail than I can achieve but the core point is that the RBC decision not only re-instated the votes of those who directly voted for Hillary, but also the 30,000 who specifically voted for Obama even knowing and expecting that their votes wouldn't count. Those 30,000 votes happen to match up fairly directly to the 4 delegates that Ickes says belong to Hillary.

The 30,000 write-in votes, which a Clinton supporter (Ickes, I think) admitted during the meeting were likely mostly for Obama, were over 5% of the total votes cast. They were not counted. Just adding those actually cast votes to Uncommitted (rather than throwing them out, as happened), dilutes Clinton’s percentage of the total enough to knock her down from 74 delegates to 70.45 of 128. Knocking off the extra vote we started with (74 instead of 73), Hillary’s 70.45 translates to 69.45, or about exactly what the R&BC awarded her. Hmmmm.

So whose really trying to steal whose votes and delegates here?

It might be argued that some of those uncommitted votes might have been for Edwards or Biden or Richardson, accept that only Edwards was still in the race at the point and assuming he would have reached the 15% threshold he (and Richardson and Biden have) endorsed Obama - so Obama would get all those delegates even if there had been some way of truly splitting them up accurately.

It's clear that Ickes and Clinton aren't the "Victim" here - they are the ones trying to steal delegates from Obama.

It's naked, it's blatant and that's what it is.

The fact is by not having his people fight for the 64/64 compromise, which he would have narrowly won, Obama put forth a positive gesture and effectively granted Clinton Five Delegates More than she would have had.

We don't have to be afraid that we'll offended the Clintonies by saying this - it's the truth, they need to know it and acknowledge it. Running around on tip-toes isn't going to change that. How many times can you put your hand out in friendship and "unity" only to have it slapped away again and again until you realize the other size doesn't deserve it anymore?

At a certain point, the Democratic party is going to have to rid itself of the Hillacratic Party. We won't have to push them out. They're going to go on their own, some are already effectively gone. Maybe they'll stay home in November with their arms folded clinging bitterly to their preferred losing candidate in a huff, maybe they'll go to a third party candidate like Nader, maybe Bob Barr, maybe to the Republicans. They do seem to certainly like Republican styled campaigning - meanwhile we are moving in a new direction.

They have to face the truth, Hillary has Lost, and so do we.

Hillary is going to win Puerto Rico. She's probably going to win the overall popular vote (as long as you ignore the Caucus States), but then again having the popular vote and $5 will barely get you a Coffee at Starbucks. It certainly didn't do anything for Al Gore.

In fairness, as I have mentioned several times before, Ickes is correct about the Electoral Map favoring Clinton. The latest polls have her leading McCain 327 to 194 on the electoral college. She is leading in eight states that Kerry didn't get in 2004.

In contrast Obama is only leading McCain by 276 to 238 and only picks of a measly fives states that Kerry didn't win. That's what we're arguing over - winning in November by eight states or just five?

His argument is that the path to the White House is easier with Clinton involved. On that point he may be technically correct, but here's the rub. Do we really want to start off a new democratic era by taking the shortest and easier possible path to victory?

Is the Low-Road really the best coarse to take?

Or, do we feel it's worth it to take the Best Road? It may not be as easy, it may not be as fast - we might have to fight with difficult and complex truth instead of easy to understand innuendo and double-talk. We have to take a serious look at whether we want to continue to fall into the old patterns, push the same old buttons, run from the same old fears that we have for generations or do we want to have the courage to do the hard thing? To do the Right Thing?

Wouldn't taking the High Road and Still Winning Be all the Sweeter, all the more worth it?

Do we have the guts to take a stand, and risk the possibility that some of our (soon to be former) Democratic brethren might never seek to join us on that path? That we'll never truly have "Unity" again?

I think we have no choice but to recognize some, like Ickes, and the Old New York Lady yelling at the cloud are simply too far gone, we can't expect and don't need "unity" with the likes of them. Instead we need clarity of direction and the conviction to get where we need to go.

Washington DC. The White House.

With them or without them, we're going to get there. No more Mr. Nice Giaus.