Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Whatever Happened To A Woman's Prerogative?...

Though headlines claim Obama is inching closer to having his name officially inked on the Democratic ballots, Hillary Clinton is not throwing in the towel just yet. In fact, just yesterday she spoke out announcing she would not be giving up until one nominee won the delegates they needed to win the traditional way. Now, both are in Florida today, trying to court new voters. Is she spunky and tenacious, showing us the "never back down" side that she will bring to successful work once (and if) she makes it into the oval office? Or is she just stubborn, digging her stiletto heels into the metaphorical ground? Either way it has positive merits, as well as detriments.

While Clinton is proving she can hold her own in the boys' club and take criticism from her own party, the opponents, and the media (and even poking fun at herself by appearing on Saturday Night Live opposite impersonator Amy Poehler), she is also beginning to show her desperation. Is she afraid of being called wishy-washy if she gracefully ends her campaigning? Is she afraid of perceived inevitable headlines: "Typical Woman Just Changes Her Mind" or being compared to Al Gore's submissive step-aside during the 2004 "Hanging Chad" fiasco? Or is she just stamping her foot and shaking her head, refusing to do anything unless she gets her way? Whatever the case may be, Clinton's stoic nature has already proved to the parties and the public that Democrats are not usually so meek-mannered. Yes, she just took Kentucky; however, Obama won Oregon with a margin of 58-42 and now only has less than one hundred delegates to go (leading Clinton with 1,956 to her 1,776).

The fear now is that the party is still divided so close to the election that once-Clinton (or once-Obama) supporters won't have enough time to come around to the other candidate once someone finally backs down (or is forced down by obtaining those ever-elusive remaining delegates). There is a sense of "but I'm still doing so well; there is a chance" emanating from Clinton's camp, offering the kind of blind but hopeful optimism on which this country more often than is positive relies. Clinton has already crossed milestones and boundaries alike and changed the course of our political future; if those who are egging her on are doing so to try to stamp her in place as the first woman president, that is not enough reason to drag out this fight. More than ever we need to unite the party so we can, in turn, work on uniting the country, and right now, the way to do that appears to be to have Ms. Clinton swallow her pride and concede to Obama's lead. What happens at the end of that third and final primary still on the calendar if she hasn't won but she hasn't graciously shaken Obama's hand either? Will her supporters have enough time to get over their perceived slight and bitterness at the loss? Or will there be a lot of Democratic voters not turning out in November, just because they didn't have enough time to get over their disappointment and who would rather not vote at all than not be able to pencil in a bubble for Clinton?

Clinton should go out now, while she's still on top, and with her head held high. It's not what she, her camp, or her supporters want to hear, but it might be the best political step she could make at this time. She has put up a hell of a fight and should be written about (and commended) for that instead of the grasping-at-straws approach that seems to be forthcoming.

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