Monday, April 21, 2008

Before the Pennsylvania primary

Forget what happens in Pennsylvania tomorrow. It doesn’t matter.

Hillary Clinton will not leave the race for one simple reason. The Democratic Party is heading for a train wreck of catastrophic proportions, and she—for one—is not going to step aside and watch it happen.

The United States of America is not going to elect Barack Obama to be its next president. Not gonna happen. That is what she told Bill Richardson when her long-time friend and her husband’s cigar buddy called to say he was going to endorse her opponent.

Bill. He CANNOT win.

Not you are betraying me and my husband. Not I am a better candidate.

He CANNOT win.

Not an opinion. A statement of fact.

This is not about race. This is not about experience. This is not about who has a better health care plan.

This is not about whether Reverend Jeremiah Wright loves America. Or whether Bill Ayers loves America. Or whether Barack Obama wears a flag pin. Or Whatever. And it sure as hell is not about whether there was a sniper in the woods one brisk morning on the tarmac in Tuzla.

For all of the arguments back and forth—He said, she said. He said she said—this race is about a simple question:

Are American politics going to change fundamentally?

That is the question. Hillary is running as the embodiment of the premise that politics is hardball, it is tough and it is a zero-sum game. There are votes, there are winners and there are losers. This is the way of American politics, from the early years forward. Any suggestion that today’s harsh partisanship is a new phenomenon is a misreading of our nation’s political history.

Barack Obama is running to create a new politics, a politics where people come together and deal with tough problems in a non-partisan way. He is suggesting that the famous injunction of Senator Arthur Vandenburg—that partisanship should end at the water’s edge—should be extended from foreign policy to domestic policy. He is suggesting that instead of extending the politics of division and wedge issues to foreign policy—as we have now successfully done—we should be doing the reverse. Rolling back the tide of partisanship.

As Hillary Clinton sees the world, the tide of partisanship is not going to be rolled back. It is part of who we are. Politics is about winning and losing. That is why we vote. This race is about who will be cared for in the years ahead. Hedge fund managers or single mothers with no health coverage. And it is about the Supreme Court.

Either we win or they win. So you see, the race is not about whether Reverend Jeremiah Wright loves America. Or whether Bill Ayers loves America. Or whether Barack Obama loves America. Or whatever.

But that is what the fall election is going to be about. Because the Republicans know that most Americans want life to be simple, not complicated. Sitting around their kitchen tables, Americans want to be safe. They want to believe that their country is a good country, and that they are a good people. They don’t want erudite speeches. They don’t really want to deal with tough problems, if they aren’t their problem. The American people want lower taxes. They want good jobs. And—Yes, Virginia—they believe in the private sector and capitalism—and by and large they believe that the old saw—I am from the Government and I am here to help you—is in an oxymoron.

Democrats can’t win when they make things complicated. And Barack Obama is making things complicated. Hope is complicated. Change is complicated.

What is shocking is the number of Senators and Governors, and others who should know better, who have endorsed Senator Obama as a response to their children’s conviction. Senators and Governors and others who should know better have been drawn into an idealistic fantasy world.

The Clintons, on the other hand, are adults who see the world for what it is, and will do whatever it takes to keep the Democratic Party from succumbing to all of the self-righteous, self-absorbed idealistic claptrap. Someone has to keep the children of America from leading their parents down a Yellow Brick Road after a Pied Piper on a path that leads nowhere.

He CANNOT win.

Not an opinion. A statement of fact.

So Hillary Clinton is not getting out of the race. No matter what happens tomorrow.

Because as she sees the world, the future of the Democratic Party is at stake.

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