Even at this greatest of generational moments- the nomination of an African American to lead America's Party- to be the true inheritor of Jefferson- Hillary finds a way to spoil the celebration.
This from Maureen Dowd this morning:
She’s Still Here!
He thought a little thing like winning would stop her?
Whoever said that after denial comes acceptance hadn’t met the Clintons.
If Hillary could not have an acceptance speech, she wasn’t going to have acceptance.
“It’s never going to end,” sighed one Democrat who has been advising Hillary. “We’re just moving to a new phase.”
Barry has been trying to shake off Hillary and pivot for quite a long time now, but she has managed to keep her teeth in his ankle and raise serious doubts about his potency. Getting dragged across the finish line Tuesday night by Democrats who had had enough of the rapacious Clintons, who had decided, if it came to it, that they would rather lose with Obama than win with Hillary, the Illinois senator tried to celebrate at the St. Paul arena where Republicans will anoint John McCain in September.
But even as Obama was trying to savor, Hillary was refusing to sever. Ignoring the attempts of Obama and his surrogates to graciously say how “extraordinary” she was as they showed her the exit, she and a self-pitying Bill continued to pull focus. Outside Baruch College, where she was to speak, her fierce feminist supporters screamed “Denver! Denver! Denver!”
Even as Obama got ready to come out on stage for his victory party, the Clinton campaign announced that it had won a Wyoming superdelegate and Terry McAuliffe introduced her at Baruch as “the next president of the United States.” She gave a brief nod to Obama without conceding that he was the nominee before rushing through a variation on her stump speech. She clung to her fuzzy math about winning the popular vote, and in one last fudge she said: “Thanks so much to South Dakota. You had the last word” — even though the Montana polls still had 25 minutes to go.
“What does Hillary want?” she mused, in her most self-aware moment in some time. “I will be making no decisions tonight,” she concluded, asking fans to go to her Web site to share their thoughts.
And, even though Democrats were no longer listening, Hillary’s camp radiated the message that Obama was a sucker who had played by the rules on Florida and Michigan, and then reached an appeasing compromise, and that such a weak sister could never handle Putin or I’m-A-Dinner-Jacket.
As he was reaching the magic number of delegates, she was devilishly stealing the spotlight. First, her camp vociferously denied an Associated Press report that she would concede and then, in a conference call with the New York delegation, she gave a green light to supporters to push for her to be on the ticket.
Clintonologists know that Hillary is up to something, but they aren’t sure what. Theory No. 1 is that it’s the Cassandra “I told you so” gambit: She believes intensely that he’s too black, too weak and too elitist — with all his salmon and organic tea and steamed broccoli — to beat her pal John McCain. But she has to pretend she’ll do “whatever it takes,” even accept the vice presidency, a job she’s already had and doesn’t want again, so that nobody will blame her when he loses on Nov. 4. Then she can power on to 2012.
Theory No. 2 is that it’s a “Bad stuff happens” maneuver, exemplified in her gaffe about the R.F.K. assassination, that she figures that at least if she moves a few blocks from Embassy Row to the Naval Observatory, she’ll be a heartbeat away from the job she’s always wanted.
Either way, by broadcasting that she’s open to being Obama’s running mate, she puts public pressure on him similar to the sort of pressure Walter Mondale was under from rampaging feminists when he put Geraldine Ferraro on the ticket. Mondale ended up seeming henpecked, as Obama would seem if he caved to the women who say they will write in Hillary’s name or vote for anti-choice McCain before they’d vote for Obama.
For months, Hillary has been trying to emasculate Obama with the sort of words and themes she has chosen, stirring up feminist anger by promoting the idea that the men were unfairly taking it away from the women, and covering up her own campaign mistakes with cries of sexism. Even his ability to finally clinch the historic nomination did not stop her in that pursuit. She did not bat her eyelashes at him and proclaim him Rhett Butler instead of Ashley Wilkes.
She just urged her supporters to keep the dream alive, and talked privately about what she would settle for. She has told some Democrats recently that she wanted Obama to agree to allow a roll call vote, like days of yore, so that the delegates of states she won would cast the first ballot for her at the convention. She said she wanted that for her daughter.
Obama supporters are worried that it’s a trick and she’ll somehow snatch away the nomination. Just as Hillary supporters have hardened toward him, many of Obama’s donors and fans have hardened against the Clintons, saying it would be disillusioning to see them on a ticket that’s supposed to be about fresh politics.
“It would be,” said one influential Democrat, “like finding out there’s no tooth fairy.”
What's her game? It's this, I think. It's not merely to be vice president. Although apparently it is that. I take it she and Bill have decided that being Obama's vice-president for eight years is the most plausible path to the presidency. But she did not on Tuesday night merely try to make a case for herself as a good vice-presidential candidate. She held a rhetorical knife to Obama's throat and said, in not so many words: I'm still calling some shots, buddy. You offer me the vice-presidency, or I walk away. But she has also forced Obama into a situation whereby if he chooses her now, he looks weak. So that's the choice she is hoping to impose on the nominee: don't choose me, and Bill and I will subtly work to see that you lose; choose me, and look like a weakling who can't lead the party without the Clintons after all. Now that's putting the interests of the party first, isn't it?