Clinton’s exit


Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to end her historic presidential campaign while leaving her options open to retain her delegates and promote her issue agenda, a campaign official says.

So, it’s over.

A line in Tim Pugmire’s story tonight about superdelegates switching their support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama certainly draws some attention:

Like many Clinton supporters, (Jackie) Stevenson blamed the media for unfair coverage.

I’m not going to pretend this is the first time I’ve heard this — far from it, actually. But anytime it appears in black-and-white, I have to consider the merits of the argument, which goes something like this, according to Tim’s story:

“It’s very hurtful, because my eyes are now open to the fact that there are a lot of people in this country who are afraid to elect a woman,” Stevenson said. “And I guess I’m appalled by that, because I thought we were growing to the point that this could happen.”

Alright, I’ll bite. How do we know this? Clearly, it makes sense that the best way to prove that we’ve “grown past the point” of not wanting to elect a woman is to actually elect one, but that’s different than saying that the reason we didn’t elect one is because she was a woman, isn’t it?

Obviously there are people who are afraid to elect a woman. There are people who are afraid to elect Democrats, Republicans, peace activists, ex-POWs, people over 70, people under 50, Catholics, United Church of Christ members, Jews, governors, and people from Massachusetts. The larger question is whether Clinton’s failure to secure the nomination can be placed on a trophy engraved “Country afraid of women presidents”?

Stevenson is the past president of the DFL Feminist Caucus. The current president of the DFL Feminist caucus, Mari Pokornowski, issued this statement today:

“I want to make it absolutely clear that assertions that the DFL Feminist Caucus is encouraging a “protest” write-in effort for Hillary Clinton in the general election for President of the United States, are absolutely false.

In addition, please be advised that neither me, or any official of the Caucus, had any involvement in promoting the Star Tribune article quoting a well known Minnesota feminist saying she personally would write-in Hillary Clinton for president as a “protest” and would encourage others to do the same. (“Feminist leader says no to Obama,” Star Tribune, May 30, 2008)

The DFL Feminist Caucus has never discussed this “protest” inside or outside our meetings nor has anyone ever address it with us. As president, I would have aggressively discouraged such an effort. Indeed, to promote such an effort would violate the very tenets of our political party.

Koryne Horbel, the founder of the caucus, is the person being repudiated here. The article in question quoted her saying…

“I don’t care,” Horbal said of the possibility that the move might cost Obama votes. She said she also would not be bothered if the write-in campaign indirectly helped elect John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. “Let McCain clean it up for four years, and then we can have Hillary run again,” she said.

Stevenson, for the record, didn’t explain how this is the media’s fault. She didn’t have to. There was no shortage of articles on the subject here, here, and here, for example.

It’s a long campaign — too long — and the media needs something to talk about. But this issue and these allegations have the ability to start a new gender war. So it’s worth getting it right and having an intelligent and respectful discussion of the issue.

Are we up to it?

  • Bernadine Martin

    I would probably take the comments posted here with more than a grain of salt if they were written by a woman……but since the very very beginning of the campaign between the two delegates, I felt a subtle animosity by the press towards Hilary Clinton that, in my opinion, lit the spark that fueled much of the dissension among the voters. Abd people picked sides as they will do. I’m a very disallusioned voter – not just towards the DNC who really need to get their act together, not only towards the media who always need to get their act together (do we really need pundits?) but towards the many people that wrote hateful, mean, spiteful things about the candidates.

  • Mary

    This is an issue that’s incredibly complicated. Has the media been unfair to Hilary? Of course. Is it just because she’s a woman? Not just, but certainly it’s part of it. Her husband certainly has not helped her at all in the last 6 months. (What happened to the adjective “presidential”?)

    Whether or not Hilary gets another shot at the nomination, she should always get tremendous credit and gratitude for breaking through this barrier. Who ever comes next will not only learn from her but most certainly will be able to focus on the issues of the campaign and not on her emotions, wardrobe and laugh.

  • GregS

    It is pretty clear the liberal elites in the media held a coronation for Barak Obama months ago. Even Saturday Night Live picked up and lampooned the over the top favoritism.

    It really is embarrassing to watch. Of course then so is anything coming out of the DFL Feminist Caucus.

    C’mon Grrrrrls. The 1980’s ended 18 years ago. It is time to come into the 21st century.

  • She lost because she ignored caucus states and everything between Super Tuesday in February and Super Tuesday in March, allowing Obama to walk away with 11 straight decisions.

    Obama can’t really deny her the veep nom without losing face, though; I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with Schweitzer, or Biden, or Webb, or, really, anyone else for that matter.

    I look very much forward to the policies Hillary helps build and the wrongs she helps to rectify in the coming eight years.

  • Michele

    I voted for Obama because I like his take on the issues and feel that an inspiring candidate/president is a good and useful thing. I feel he could be a very effective president. I also agree with most of Clinton’s positions on issues.

    I didn’t vote for Obama because he is a man or because he is black, nor did I not choose Clinton because she is a woman. I really hope we all choose our candidates because we believe they would be the best leader of the candidates running – with an eye to electibility, as well.

    I think it’s great that the two top candidates both broke the white male barrier. They both came out ahead of their white male competitors!! But, only one can be nominated.

    I can’t believe anyone who supports Clinton could possibly think that a McCain win would be a good outcome of the upcoming election. That’s just sour grapes!

  • JerryW

    Are you kidding me? Hillary is a vile, detestable prevaricator! be she challenged with male or female anatomy she could never be fit to lead the American People. Get over yourselves, the attacks on this person are well earned for many reasons beyond her physiology!

  • Tyler Suter

    Although it goes without saying that Hillary experienced some additional scrutiny by the press due to the fact that she is not a he; I would not attempt to argue otherwise. I do feel though, that the underlying issue – recognizing my perspective as that of a male – lies in the bloodthirsty corporate media mentality – one that seeks out each exploitable character flaw in order to deface the reputation of a public figure. I don’t believe that gender degradation was central to the motivation of those in the media that scrutinized Hillary more so than other candidates. I presume at the root of the scrutiny was some sense that Hillary was easier to bring down than Barack. Whether it is the fact that she is more familiar to critical pens or that she is a woman and to what degree each was a factor I don’t know. But I am quite confident that if the media had found a way to more easily do the same to Barack as has allegedly been done to Hillary, I feel the tables would be turned and this discussion would be about the greater stigma against Black people. I think that it is most important to recognize the existence of stigma in society (in general) as apposed to pointing out specific occurrences. I say that because it is much easier to motivate or illustrate one’s perspective when the audience can personally relate to what one is saying. As Miss Bernadine Martin alluded to by saying, “I would probably take the comments posted here with more than a grain of salt if they were written by a woman,” is that as a man I cannot relate to the struggle of a woman or the female experience. So with that said, how can I – as a man – ever understand what must be done to remove any existing gender stigma? There needs to be a place or a way for us all to relate to one another through empathetic discourse and shared struggle from alternate sources.

    And just to clarify, I was fully behind Hillary from when I first chose a side (since apparently it is no longer proper to stay undeclared). I do think it is time for her to step down in order to avoid a party fracture, but in no way has my confidence in her ability to lead this nation has not wavered as a result of the media taking the role of an adherent contributor to this political race. I hold firm in my traditional news disposition: news should be news, not entertainment.

    (man I need to stop writing before bed; I’ll never get any sleep.)

  • Neal

    HRC had the problem of the carryover from the rabid ant-Clinton vituperation of the 90’s. This was an undercurrent of the press coverage at the beginning, and which ebbed and flowed for the remainder of her campaign.

    But a second flaw, which never was successfully or effectively addressed by the HRC campaign–what were her essential qualifications for the job? Would she even be in the running for president if her husband hadn’t been president? Would she have become senator from New York without having been the wife of Bill Clinton?

    Obama, while without as much experience as Clinton, never had to fight the uneasiness of the presumption of a right to power that came with being the spouse of a former president. He had no baggage related to the numerous battles of the 90’s that ultimately lead to the impeachment of Clinton. It is those facts that made Clinton ultimately the under-dog.

    Does that mean that the media is biased against women? I don’t think so–Clinton had unique problems that no other woman candidate would have.

    Does that mean that the public is biased against female candidates. Some are. Bust most of those who were not for her had an uneasiness related to the conflicts of the 90’s and the presumption of a right to power that her candidacy had.

  • c

    I like what Mary said about future female runners, I like what Michelle said about why she voted Obama and her thoughts on sour grapes and I liked Tylers lengthy post which brought up a male perspective on the Hilary campaign.

    In the beginning I was unsure, before all the campaigning started. I had doubts about Hilary because I do not trust her. (this is a gut thing) I took the ‘MPR pick your candidate test’ and it turned out that Obama was the one who had the same beliefs that I did. But what really swayed me was the mud slinging from both Clintons that started back in what…January? It had nothing to do with the fact that she is a she. I believe in Obama-even when he was being attacked by the Clintons he held his ground with diplomacy.

    I have absolute faith that he will maintain this image in his campaign against McCain.

  • bsimon

    In a recent article (last Sunday?), David Broder summarizes a Pew Research report that debunks the ‘media bias’ myth. Senator Clinton did not suffer from more hit pieces than Obama or McCain & Obama did not benefit from more fluff pieces than Clinton or McCain.

    In my opinion, the people who are claiming that Senator Clinton did not win the nomination due to sexism are projecting their own biases on the rest of the electorate. Again, its opinion, but a lot of people seem to support Senator Clinton solely because she’s a woman. Isn’t that just as bad as not supporting her based solely on gender? Isn’t the whole point of equality the idea that gender (or race) doesn’t matter?

    I think that when the right woman comes along, America will have no trouble electing her. Senator Clinton is apparently not that woman.

  • Chris Joiner

    It’s true, it would be a fallacy to conclude that the United States is not ready to elect a female president based on the premise that we did not elect one individual woman.

    But when one reflects on the overall coverage of Ms. Clinton’s campaign, generally speaking, she seemed to appear as a stumbling block, as someone who was continually in the way of the real presidential candidate, or worse as someone who was guilty of dividing the Democratic Party. Of course, it will never be clear if a different woman would have appeared the same way.

    What should be most troubling is that this seems to reflect exactly the larger, less tangible type of cultural marginalization that feminists have been talking about for at least 40 years.

    It seems quite possible that the United States has not yet “grown past the point.”

  • bsimon

    “What should be most troubling is that this seems to reflect exactly the larger, less tangible type of cultural marginalization that feminists have been talking about for at least 40 years”

    How so?

    Some of the Senator’s supporters are saying that if Sen Obama were to pick another woman, say Gov Sebelius or Gov Napolitano, it would be a ‘slap in the face’ of Sen Clinton. Shouldn’t it be celebrated as a gain for women, rather than denigrated as being ‘disrespectful’ of one woman?

  • Chris Joiner

    “How so?”

    To clarify: What should be most troubling is not that Clinton does not have the nomination, nor is it that she may not get the VP position; it’s her role in the larger narrative of the election, which was not celebrated as a gain for women by the mainstream media for long. Obama seemed to be the preferred candidate but it was never entirely clear why. I don’t much want to argue whether this is a case of glass ceiling, but simply how easily it lends itself to that type interpretation. “Inequalities are often embedded within the social hierarchy and this affects who is seen as the best fit for leadership roles*” and there is room for suspicion that the various players in the mainstream media were afraid to breach this.

    As for Sebelius or Napolitano getting the VP spot, I don’t think there is any contradiction in saying that it could be both a “gain for women” generally as a well as a “slap in the face” for Clinton individually.

    *Wikipedia – Glass Ceiling

  • c

    Interesting perspective, Chris. I did not know that there was a name specifically for what the ‘Good Ole Boys’ have been pulling since women have gained the right to vote.

    I (personally) do not believe that this is the case with Hillary. I really believe that it has alot to do with her history. The way I see it, McCain is considered somewhat of a RHINO by the conservative Republicans because he is closer to the middle of the far right/far left scale. I think that Hilary is pretty close to that middle as well for being on the left.

    Obama is someone new with an idea of change. He hasn’t been tainted with what years of being caught up in the political BS can do to a person.

    Bonus points because he has a soul and leads with a conscious.

  • Jim Persian

    I hear Rodham’s actions say “I will sacrifice anything for what I think is good for me.” and her language say “I will sacrifice anything for the good of the United States.”. Margaret and Boadicea I admire. Jean and Hillary I don’t.