Barack Obama has officially (and mathematically) clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. Polar bears are finally on the endangered species list. We’ve learned that John Locke (no, not the philosopher, but an obvious allusion) was the dead guy in the coffin on “Lost.” David Cook won “American Idol.” There will be blood, and indeed, there was. Carrie Bradshaw finally gets married.
Oh, right. And Hillary Clinton gave a fine concession speech and dropped her bid for the presidency.
Wait…check that last one.
On a night when Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American to be a party’s nominee for president, the only thing missing was an unadulterated concession by the runner up. Starting early in the day today (6/3/08), many news and media outlets–most notably the Associated Press and BBC–were reporting that Barack Obama had already secured enough delegates (pledged and super) to become the nominee. And the same media outlets also reported that Hillary Clinton was on the verge of dropping out of the race.
Indeed, many political pundits had written Hillary’s presidential obituary in the past few days. And who can blame them? All the signs were there, as clear as crop circles smashed into midwestern corn fields. Hillary was behind in delegate count and had no chance to catch up; the DNC had just ruled against her in the seating of Florida and Michigan delegates; the Clinton campaign informed their advance team members their jobs were done; they told their top staffers to turn in their expense sheets by the end of the month.
All signs pointed to Clinton conceding. Just one problem. She didn’t concede. Instead, she used her platform to barely congratulate Obama for running a fine campaign–not for actually winning the nomination mind you–just for running. Then she asked her “18 million supporters” to email her and tell her what to do. As if they’d actually email her and tell her to drop out as gracefully as she still can.
In any case, what was to be, what was so highly expected, did not happen tonight. Hillary Clinton simply chose not to acknowledge reality. No concession, now what?
Many have asked what exactly Hillary wants now by not stepping aside even when reality and concrete numbers are against her. There are many theories, but I think it’s pretty clear what Hillary actually wants. At this point, there are only three things Hillary is after:
1. the Vice Presidency (or some high-profile cabinet position)
2. more monetary donations from supporters so she can get closer to retiring her campaign debt…or at least recuperate the Clinton family money that was “loaned” to the campaign.
3. lastly, some preservation or repairing of her husband’s legacy.
Anyone who’s been following Clinton staffers in their spin tonight (especially Terry McAuliffe) can clearly tell Clinton’s not really staying to “keep fighting for her 18 million supporters so they won’t be invisible,” as Clinton “testified” in her “concession speech.” The Clinton campaign’s nonstop, continuous restatement of the 18 million supporters and the powerful movement Hillary has behind her is nothing but posturing at this point. She is leveraging the only poker chips she has left before she goes all in.
The hardball leveraging points to only one conclusion–she’s trying to broker something acceptable to her standards as a way to exit, not this campaign, but her and her husband’s political portrait upon America’s living room wall.