Friday, February 22, 2008

Time for Hillary to clock out?

Should Hillary quit?

That's the question that Eugene Robinson and Colbert King ask in their Washington Post columns this weekend. Robinson and King, along with Harold Meyerson, are the only Post columnists who write for themselves and not to maintain their social standing in the Washington political-media complex. Robinson's interest are more national and international in scope, while King's columns tend to emphasize local politics (and, in particular, the failings of the D.C. bureaucracy to address the needs of the African-American poor).

Robinson notes, in his column, "If Obama Went 0-10," that Hillary's enforcers would be calling for Obama to quit the campaign for the good of the party. The people, especially all the little people that Obama claims to care so much about, have spoken, and it's clear that the little people want the Illinois senator out of the way so that history can proceed apace. Hillary's 35 years of experience, which, now that she has just turned 60, apparently began the day after her graduation from Yale Law School, have time-tested her to step in on Day 1 and take the reigns of leadership of the Free World. Although it's not clear how her time at the Rose law firm in Little Rock, her tenure on the Wal-Mart board of directors, two-terms as First Lady, 18 months in the public eye as aggrieved spouse and 7 years as a U.S. senator make her the default choice for the nation's commander-in-chief, as well as chief executive officer (let's not forget that part of Article II), worse is the nerve of a neophyte U.S. senator like Obama to stand in her way.

Especially when you consider all that she has done for the American people.

King's column is a little more cutting. He takes the Clintons to task for campaigning -- at least at the beginning -- as if the African-American vote was theirs by entitlement. Billl's bad behavior in South Carolina, compounded by Hillary's awkwardness around African-American voters, did nothing to help their cause. Bill, in particular, seemed incensed that African-Americans could get excited by a man of Obama's intelligence and appeal rather than line-up behind his wife's "historical" candidacy to make her the first woman president. Nothing wrong at all, thought Bill and Hillary, with all those, "Women for Hillary" signs, buttons and bumper stickers. But, as King points out, it was a little hypocritical to scold African-Americans for feeling energized by a black man running for president. Not Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, mind you, who could never really attract white votes, but by a man who could win substantial chunks of white voters as well as take the overwhelmingly majority of black voters in Southern states. Perhaps you had to have grown up in the South to understand just how mind-blowing Obama's primary victory in Virginia was just a few weeks ago. Yes, the day should have arrived long ago when white voters put aside their hang-up on race to vote for African-American candidates. And that did happen, in part, in 1990, when Doug Wilder became the first African-American to serve as a Governor -- and in Virginia, no less, home to former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond. Obama, though, has much more "cross-over" appeal than Wilder, and his victory as a national candidate against an incumbent -- and let's not forget that Hillary is running for a third Clinton term -- is more impressive than Wilder's historic victory.

The Clintons, King notes, "low-rated" Obama from the beginning, assuming he was a feel-good, "niche" candidate not terribly dissimilar from Jesse Jackson, a man that could attract both a floor and ceiling of African-American voters and not much else (except for Whole Foods, sensible Eco-Shoe Democrats eager to prove their commitment to an African-American candidate after years of "celebrating diversity" with bumper stickers and honorable mentions of Martin Luther King, Jr. during Black History Month celebrations). They got it wrong.

Should Hillary quit the primary race is a question posed in the future tense. I would put the question differently: Should Hillary, after going 0-10, already have quit the primary race?

Yes. There is only one inevitable candidacy now. And it's not hers.

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