Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hillary Clinton - Iconic path, or infamous one?

The first time I cast a vote in a presidential election as an informed voter was in 1992, when, as a 22 year old college senior in Massachusetts, I voted for Bill Clinton. Yes, four years earlier, in my very first presidential election, I voted for George Bush the Elder. But, I was 18, had grown up in Texas, was going to college in Texas, and, as a result, I did what any Texan does – I went with the home team.

But four years later I had grown, and learned, and really explored my options this time, and what Bill Clinton promised seemed alright for me, and, at least in part because of my vote, the majority of my 20s were spent with Clinton as my president, and damned if the world didn’t seem like a good place.

Bill, his wife Hillary, and their daughter Chelsea, were MY first family. I had put them in the White House, I felt that the Clintons were doing a fantastic job running the country, and I thought the way they were not afraid to defend themselves with extreme vigor against the dolts who would try to bring them down, was balls out super.

And now, it’s 2008. Twenty years since my first presidential ballot, and 16 years since I put Clinton in the White House. A year ago, I was excited at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidential run. The Clintons were great the first time around, and heck, another run of eight good years might be just the swift kick in the pants this country needs after eight years of George Bush the Lesser and his minions of hate and murder.

The Clintons are icons to me. Legends, if you will. Heroes of the people, and, have a real chance to earn mythical status, much like the Kennedys and other important political families of the last 50 years.

But then Barack Obama happened. It happened quickly, and suddenly, and it was as if a series of light bulbs went off over the heads of under 45, left-leaning Americans everywhere.

Suddenly, Hillary Clinton didn’t seem like a great idea. After eight contentious Bush years, another eight years with a president that clearly brings the bile from her enemies, had the potential to divide this country even further than Bush and his supporters had already done.

I switched over to being an Obama supporter early. Most of the people I know that lean left have also come over. My parents – in their 60s – are still ardent Clinton supporters. My step-mother was overjoyed at the prospect of a woman in the White House, something she probably didn’t imagine possible growing up in 1950s and 1960s.

It has pained me a bit to see those dreams of hers deferred, but that’s all it is. Clinton’s campaign opened so many doors that had been previously thought shut, and in another time and another place, she would have been our President. Instead, she has blazed a trail for other women, and I feel confident that in my lifetime, I will see a woman president.

But right now, I fear that Hillary Clinton is destroying her legacy, and the Clinton legacy in general. Instead of gaining mythical status, her hubris, and seeming lack of respect for the Democrat Party, may doom her to a legacy of broken dreams, crushed hearts, and a terrible taste for all things Clinton.

When the odds against her becoming the Democratic nominee for President became long and nearly impossible, she refused to back down. While frustrating to those who want to see the Dems stop tearing each other apart, there is also a bit of respect for her tenacity.

Last night, however, Obama finally clinched the nod, gaining enough delegates. But instead of conceding to him and graciously accepting defeat, Clinton refused to do so, and now appears to be more than willing to divide the Democratic party and risk losing the presidential election to Republicans, in an effort to at least angle for a Vice President position, which is something that would excite her supporters, but leave a sour taste for many Obama supporters, myself included.

The way Clinton is speaking to, and about, her supporters, the risk is great that they will defect and not vote for Obama because of anger, if he does not pick her as VP. That’s VERY dangerous ground, and it makes my sour taste for her even more so.

Her supporters appear to be rabidly angry about her not being the Presidential nominee. I can only imagine how much more anger they’ll have if Obama doesn’t pick her to the be the VP nominee, because it will appear as if he once again, “stole” something that she and her supporters believe are naturally hers.

For the sake of the Democratic party, and the chances of having a Democrat in the White House, Hillary Clinton must not only graciously concede, but also tone down her rhetoric, and must let Obama’s search for a VP take on a natural course, not a forced one that could send her supporters away from voting for a Dem in November.

The choice is hers. Hillary Clinton can earn her spot in history as an icon of mythical proportions, or she can go down in infamy as the person responsible for fracturing the Democratic Party, perhaps irreparably.

No comments: