Run, Hillary, Run

Tue, 13 May 2008 15:04:56 +0000

For the record, I don't believe Senator Clinton is under any obligation to leave the race because she is behind by a margin that would be difficult to overcome. I think our presidential nominating process would be well served by a system in which every state and territory had an actively contested primary or caucus.

But what are we to make of the conclusion to Ellen Malcolm's Saturday op-ed in The Washington Post?

Hillary Clinton certainly has the right to compete till the end. But I believe Hillary also has a responsibility to play the game to its conclusion. For the women of my generation who learned to find and channel their competitiveness, for the working women who never falter in the face of pressure, for the younger women who still believe women can do anything, Hillary is a champion. She's shown us over and over that winners never quit and that quitters never win. We'll cheer her on until the game is over. And we hope that when the final whistle blows, we will have elected the first female president and the best president our country has ever had.

Senator Clinton, like all other candidates for a party's nomination, has some responsibilities beyond those suggested by Ms. Malcolm:

  1. To not drag her opponent through the mud in the process of competing till the end.
  2. To not play "let's make a deal" with the superdelegates as a means of circumventing the more democratic aspect of the nominating process.
  3. To not opportunistically pressure the DNC to change the rules for seating the delegates from Michigan and Florida as if those were real contests.

If Senator Clinton were to abide by these responsibilities, I would be pleased to see her continue in the race. She isn't. That's what makes her continuation something of a spectacle and Ms. Malcolm's editorial delusional.

But it's not the most delusional thing you can read about Senator Clinton's continuation in the race. That honor belongs to June Krunholz in today's Wall Street Journal. The problem with the article, in a nutshell, is here:

But what is clear from 1976 and two more-recent races is that the party took a drubbing when challengers refused to concede and instead pursued the nomination into the convention.

No, what is clear from those years is that when the personal and political characteristics of a party's standard-bearer are out of step with much of the electorate, the party will lose in November and will have a hard time settling its own nomination earlier in the year.

The 1976, 1980, and 1984 contests in the article are not good examples for the Democratic Party this year. With former Vice President Gore not in the race, the Party is without a standard-bearer, and neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama appear to be out of step with most of the electorate.