When Hillary Clinton entered the Senate, had she voted her conscience, rather than her ambition, she would be the nominee of her party today and the next President of the United States. At the end of her non-concession speech on Tuesday night, after she reiterated her long-held determination to end the war, Hillary spoke with genuine passion about representing the voiceless, the disenfranchised, and the "invisible." This is who I have believed Hillary Clinton is all along, and my criticism about her campaign, as well as her Senate career, is that she ran away from her self. Like her husband, her votes and opinions were often motivated by personal political positioning planned to make herself palatable to the greater populace for a presidential power play. Only, the old politics didn't work this time.
Living in the adjoining state to where Mrs. Clinton served as First Lady, I don't recall a single negative story written or spoken about her during the entire tenure of the Clinton governancy, as opposed to the Fordice soap opera in Mississippi, which was weekly news fodder. Mrs. Clinton was regarded in Arkansas, and the South, as a champion of education and a spokesperson for children in need. As a 45 year old college senior completing a journalism degree begun some thirty years previous, I covered Hillary's visit to the U of M campus for the school paper in 1992, when she was campaigning for her husband. At the time, I said that although she lacked great public speaking skills, there could be no faulting what she was saying. She was a "New" Democrat, and her concerns for early education and health care were as passionate as her valedictory speech was at Wellesley. My disappointment over the route she chose to take while in the Senate was obviously not an isolated emotion.
Rather than risk being labeled a "liberal" in the Senate, she co-sponsored anti-flag burning amendments and took a decidedly militaristic tone. The politically expedient move after the attacks of 9/11 was to grant Bush his war powers request for pre-emptive strikes at perceived enemies at his discretion. The conscientious thing would be to realize that the guiding foreign policy imperative of the United States throughout its history is that, we don't start wars. Hillary backed Bush and defended the war until her run for the presidency, when she became solidly anti-war, although she could never bring herself to apologize for enabling Bush like John Edwards eventually did. Recalling her earlier activist years, how can you be against the Vietnam War and in favor of the one in Iraq? That's maturity in reverse.
At the beginning of the primary season, Hillary refused to even acknowledge the possibility that she would not be the nominee, and was certain the whole thing would be wrapped up on Super Tuesday. When it wasn't, she began a slash and burn, negative campaign that bordered on race baiting and nearly destroyed the years of goodwill between black America and the Clintons. Obama wasn't a Muslim, "as far as I know," and "working, hard working, white Americans are voting for me." Bill's rhetoric was worse and controversial enough that he ended this political season, and possibly his career, travelling the hustings of small town South Dakota. Labelling Bill Richardson as a traitor while having surrogates rummage through Obama's kindergarten essays wasn't such a good idea either. And the 18 million votes Hillary claims come along with the inclusion of two primaries that didn't count, and one where Obama's name wasn't on the ballot. How many more voters might have turned out in Florida and Michigan if they knew their votes were really going to matter for something?
Finally, these news footage scenes of menopausal "Women Gone Wild," are baffling to me. I had previously written that one day, I would like to see a Jewish president, but you won't catch me voting for Joe Lieberman anytime soon. The comparison works for Hillary as well. The claims that she was "disrespected" come directly from the criticisms about her message and the way she conducted her campaign, and as far as Obama is concerned, I have never seen a politician so genteel toward his rival. I have no doubt, as evidenced by Hillary's gracious gesture toward Obama at the AIPAC conference yesterday, that she will fully support his candidacy. I can't say the same for the mostly white women who claim they will be voting for McCain in the fall. Only Hillary can facilitate that, and it is past time for her to shed her Maggie Thatcher, chain-mail image and begin to follow her truest self; a lesson learned, if at all, too late.