Hillary Clinton will do just fine (even if she is no Ted Kennedy)
I have never been a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations. I used to think she was doing a good job for New Yorkers as their US Senator, but always felt she was just too divisive for the national stage, that she could get to 51% in a general election, but not 60% in an approval rating to build a solid consensus for governing. She proved me right with her presidential campaign – though there is much to admire about her, her negative tactics and refusal to answer policy questions was despicable.
Still, I had to roll my eyes when I read this little bit from NBC’s First Read this morning about this week’s Democratic National Convention:
The Washington Post's Cocco may have nailed tonight better than anyone today: Hillary can't win. She may not be able to find her Goldilocks moment and strike a "just right" balance tonight of both advancing her own political future and proving that she really does want Obama to win... The good news for her, the expectations are very low in this sense. No one expects her to be able to pull this off convincingly.
Oh, malarkey! Senator Clinton may well be bitter and disappointed at having lost our party’s nomination for President, but she is not one of her vocal fringe followers, screaming for revenge, holding out hope that she’ll pull off a coup. She gave a convincing speech in early June when she conceded and she made a convincing appearance with Obama in Unity, NH shortly thereafter, and if she could do it then, she can do it now. I believe Senator Clinton will give an excellent speech tonight, and that Keynoter Mark Warner (whom I have met twice and have much respect for) will also do a whiz-bang job. I do, admittedly, have my doubts about how President Clinton will perform tomorrow night, but anyone who doesn’t “expect her to be able to pull this off convincingly” has their head in a paper bag.
The Clintons aside, the Convention sure is off to a great start. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Joe Biden, but there is another Democratic star whom I love just about as much, and that is Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who made a dynamite appearance last night. It is generally agreed that Ted Kennedy, brother to my hero Robert and the nation’s hero John, is one of the most effective legislators in the entire history of the U.S. Senate. It is he we have to thank for minimum wage laws, pay discrimination laws, labor law enforcement, and the ongoing fight for universal health care. I was interning for Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) on the day Kennedy’s brain cancer was announced, and it cast an enormous pall over Capitol Hill. That was the worst day I have had during my five months here in Washington, DC. I hope Kennedy manages to finish his current Senate term, and Obama’s first term as President. I hope he lives to see his work come to fruition, that he sees his protégé secure health care as a basic fundamental right and end the war in Iraq. Kennedy deserves that as much as we deserve him. I wasn’t alive in the ‘60s to see the work his brothers did, but I am alive today to see the results. We may have a long way to go yet, but the three of them have moved this country forward, and the work the youngest has done over the last 40 years deserves every bit as much praise as we give to the other brothers for the ten before that.
Chappaquiddick, the right-wing kooks say? Well, yes, that was an emabarassing chapter, but even if it were a crime, it would be manslaughter, not murder; it’s a tough road to drive on even in the daytime; there was nothing Kennedy could have done to save the girl once the car was under; there’s no proof he was drunk; and, I believe most importantly, the man offered to resign over it but the voters demanded that he stay. So quite frankly, if you believe the accidental death of one woman thirty-nine years ago is more important than the social and economic justice that has come to millions in the decades since, well, I have to believe you’ve got your head in the same bag as the Hillary haters.
I am a Democrat in part because of Ted Kennedy and his brothers.