Why Hillary Cares

You’d think that people who are afforded time on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, or whatever other network might have figured this out already, but an Ambinder reader is the first person I’ve yet seen who gets why Hillary Clinton needs Obama to win, and her voters to back Obama specifically:

If you refuse to support Obama in November you are standing in opposition to Hillary and thwarting her lifetime of hard work.

What’s more, you will irreversibly damage her entire future.  At BEST, Hillary will be seen as powerless and unable exercise leadership in regard to her supporters.  At WORST, she will be seen as conniving to sabotage her own party at the most crucial political moment in a generation.  Either way, her career will be over. 

It’s worth remembering that the party base was upset with Clinton in the primary for staying in after it was clear she had no viable chance to win the nomination because she was attacking the eventual nominee, forcing Obama to spend money against her, and sucking the air out of DNC fundraising efforts. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that Democrats have to have a bit of an “I told you so” complex watching the McCain campaign make attack ads out of Hillary Clinton’s primary attacks on Obama. So if Hillary Clinton, or her supporters, are viewed in any way shape or form as trying to sabotage Obama’s run, and Democrats blow what should be a sure thing, the Democratic base is going to tar and feather the Clintons and the people around them.

But Hillary seems to be acutely aware of this, and does appear to be working as hard as anyone to help Obama win. I’ve heard people say they’ve never seen a loser from the primary exert this much influence over the winner, but at the same time it’s probably worth mentioning that no losing candidate in recent memory has done as many high profile events with the nominee, nor have their former campaign managers blasted off joint statements with the nominee’s campaign. So yes, there are probably still some lingering differences and details about certain things that need to be ironed out, but it’s worth noting that that’s not the same as having some huge chasm between the two. And if they’re “negotiating,” say, how they’re going to work a roll call vote on the floor, that clearly means that both camps are flexible and willing to find a solution that makes everyone happy. And in this case I think that’s important, not just for 2008 but for posterity. Hillary Clinton won 23 contests in the primary, the first woman to ever win more than 1, so she deserves some symbolic gesture that will mark this convention as special in that regard. If, as is being floated around, they call the roll of delegations up until New York, at which point the delegation chair, or maybe even Clinton herself, will ask that the floor recognize Obama as the nominee by acclamation, that would be a very poignant, very touching moment that, current hyperventilating aside, I think Democrats would look back on for a long time with a great sense of pride for their trailblazing and, yes, unified accomplishments this cycle.

But maybe that’s just me.