Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hillary Heads Out With Class

“No matter what happens in this contest—and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.”
We haven't had much to say about the Democratic primary race because we type too slowly. For some time, now, it seemed the moment something noteworthy happened before we could even finish digesting it something else would occur to make whatever had happened seem old and irrelevant. So, the Recyle Bin is full and our campaign year diary is nearly empty.

This on-line piece by Hendrik Herzberg of The New Yorker, however, strikes us as having a core truth that may well last right up to the Democratic Convention, or at the least through the Texas-Ohio primaries of March 4.

Judging from the latest debate with Barack Obama, he says, Hillary Clinton "has recognized that there are no magic formulas that can win this for her, and she has decided that if go out she must she intends to go out with class."
Clinton will continue to talk about her differences with Obama on questions like an individual mandate for health insurance, the proper balance between conciliation and confrontation with Republicans, and the conditions under which a President should meet with nasty foreign leaders. She’ll talk about her experience and her diligence.
* * *
This kind of thing hasn’t “worked” for her, but at least it is her. She’ll give it her best shot, not her worst shot, and let the chips fall where it looks like they’re falling.

“Going negative” has been a bust. It could never be anything but a bust, because there is no audience for it in the Democratic Party. Her supporters (almost all of them) like him; his supporters (most of them) like her. The finger-pointing has already begun: she spent too much money on fancy hotel rooms, her husband made too many blunders, she never settled on a theme, and so on ad infinitum. But all that may be beside the point—the point being that Barack Obama is a phenomenon that comes along once in a lifetime. Unfortunately for Hillary, it’s her lifetime; fortunately for the rest of us, it’s ours.
Hillary Clinton is a very classy act, when left to her own devices, and always has been. One hopes that she will stay, at least formally, in the race right up to the Convention even if she comes up short on March 4 and Obama looks like a shoe-in.

Too much that was unpredictable at the start of the year has happened already. More is likely. This isn't 1968, thank god, but the passions and confusions and hatreds of our time are running at least as high. As Glenn Greenwald wrote this week, after Bill O'Reilly entertained talk of "lynching" Michelle Obama and the equally vile Lisa Schiffren seized on Obama's racial heritage as circumstantial evidence he's "probably" a communist:
It’s vitally important to remember that our political life is suffuse with lowlifes and hatemongers like this. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter — the heart and soul of the right-wing — aren’t going anywhere, nor are the media-connected, Swiftboat-spewing operatives who function in the shadows and the sewers.

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