It was supposed to be over last night with Barack Obama having won enough pledged delegates and super-delegates to make him the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee. But then Hillary Clinton took to the floor In NYC to address supporters in what many assumed would be a concession speech.
But Senator Clinton did not concede, or even ‘suspend’ her presidential aspirations; she delivered a campaign speech about education and health care and bringing the troops home and ‘reached out’ to the eighteen million people who voted for her in the primaries and said some perfunctory nice things about Barack Obama. She closed by reminding everyone of her dot com site, in case, anyone might want to donate to what she regards either as a victory fund or a help-me-pay-off-my-debts fund. It was a strange kind of event that left anyone inclined to scratch their head in perplexity, doing just that.
Around the same time Senator McCain was delivering his remarks to a smallish crowd of well-wishers, praising Hillary – – someone he calls a friend – – for her character and fortitude. He commended her for a campaign that had paved the way for future generations of women, including his daughters. He went on to congratulate Obama for winning the nomination, yet managed to paint him once again as a young in-experienced neophyte while alluding to his, McCain’s, long family history of military service.
Those military credentials, apparently, are supposed to carry the day and catapult him into the White House because there’s precious little in his message to generate excitement or justify his play on the change thing Obama initiated. And when the presidential campaign shifts into high gear he will have abundant baggage to explore, and his senatorial support of Bush policies almost without exception will tend to undercut the “maverick” reputation his supporters love to highlight in his resume.
Obama’s speech before an estimated crowd of 17,000 in Minnesota was another one of his oratory triumphs. And while that particular talent isn’t all that’s required of a presidential candidate, and there is some evidence that even a blunderer can make it to the White House, it sure doesn’t hurt to be inspired every now and then. He too mentioned some of his goals for the country, said some nice things about Hillary and didn’t seem to take note of the fact that she was still more or less in the middle of things.
One of the most interesting aspects of how these campaigns shake out is the relish with which TV analysts drool over the results. On MSNBC Pat Buchanan keeps asking why can’t Obama “close the deal?” And how come Hillary won big in West Virginia and Kentucky if he’s such a hot shot? But using those two states as yardsticks hardly relates to the contest in November since Democrats aren’t expected to carry either one of them. Numerous of the most-viewed pundits would love to see a floor fight in August because it would be such fun although possibly disastrous for the Democratic Party.
No doubt speculation about what Hillary has up her sleeve will fuel another day’s news cycle while a lot of ordinary folks would like her to step aside and let the games begin. It was clear last night that Senator McCain has taken aim at Senator Obama and more or less dismissed Senator Clinton, albeit in a gentlemanly way. What exactly are we missing here? Does Hillary know something she thinks will take Obama down, other than a truly catastrophic event that is? Is she still juggling numbers so she can continue to insist she won the popular vote even if she has to omit caucus numbers, and to what purpose?
In the final wrap-up of the day’s events there remained an unsettling air of things unresolved, an unexpected cloud over the proceedings. If Senator Clinton’s fans want to bring down the rain on Senator Obama’s parade, there’s nothing to stop them, but an acceptance of reality and an end to cries of “McCain in 2008” would be an encouraging sign that they can put aside their angst and support the Democratic nominee for the good of the party and, more importantly, for the good of the country.