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?