Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hillary's Chance for True Redemption

Much has been made about the bitter Democratic primary fight this year between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, which I summarize simply as the "Clintobama Melodrama". Senator Clinton has been (rightly) criticized for stepping over the line of politeness normally expected of intra-party warfare, by going after her opponent with attacks that could be exploited by the opposition in the general election. And as we've seen, they have been.

Human nature means that if Obama fails in his 2008 bid, memory of this will largely have faded by 2012, but some of Obama's more ardent -- and no doubt by that point angry -- supporters will waste no time to bring it up again. Clinton's performance at the DNC likely helped dull some of the criticism earlier levied against her, but many felt it was more obligatory than genuine.

I've never been a big fan of Senator Clinton, for reasons I won't go into here. I was one of those angered by her behavior in the primaries and not terribly impressed by her lukewarm behavior since. But in fairness to her, the defeat must have been crushing, and it's very hard to play second fiddle to someone you feel superior to.

Enter Sarah Palin. Making this choice was supposed to rally the GOP base, and there's every indication that it will. However, it is having at least as much of the same effect on the Democrats as well. That includes Senator Clinton, who unsurprisingly appears to be rather unimpressed with the idea of a completely unqualified far-right-wing token exploiting all of her hard work.

There's a big difference in attitude and energy when you are fighting for something you really believe in, as opposed to someone you are told you need to support. The manipulation of the media by the Republicans to scare off attacks as "sexist" has been woefully effective, and one big way to blunt this is via attacks from woman surrogates. Of all these, Hillary Clinton is uniquely positioned to make a difference.

What this means is that Hillary Clinton has a real and large chance to prove herself to her party and her nation. Her experience and her sharpness can be of very great use to Barack Obama and the Democrats in blunting some of the mythos surrounding Sarah Palin and her attempt to co-opt the electoral stage. Over the next two months, Clinton can undo any damage she did to Obama in the primaries, cement her standing as a real leader, and greatly improve her own potential for higher office in the future.

For the first time in my life, I am eager to become a big Hillary Clinton fan.

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