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Hilary Rosen: Clinton missed her chance to ‘pass the torch and cement her grace’

By pams
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 23:00 EDT
 

That says a lot coming from Hilary Rosen, one of the power brokers in DC and the LGBT community, who was all over the airwaves as a tireless, staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton. Rosen’s column on Huff Post (where she is the new political editor) is a very strong signal from a Washington insider that a sad line has been crossed. Last night the senator from New York had an opportunity to seize the moment by bowing out with class and grace, acknowledging both her own success and Barack Obama’s. It would have begun the reconciliation that is now hard to visualize.

The life’s work of Bill and Hillary Clinton in partnering with so many African Americans uniting our purpose and promoting our mutual issues is as responsible for Barack Obama’s success as our first African American nominee as anyone. And yet, that joy is being denied for them by themselves. It is so sad.

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her “Al Gore moment.” And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama’s angry and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would “use” her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama’s campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.

Even in her belief that Hillary Clinton would make a fine president — the whole column is worth the read — Hilary Rosen is willing to point out, diplomatically, that the sense of entitlement that engulfed the campaign, along with the crippling denial as the losses mounted, resulted in an inability to pass that torch. Clinton obviously heard from Rosen and other trusted supporters about the impact and importance of the tone of the senator’s exit from the stage. How she handles it will also be part of her legacy — one wonders why the concerns and advice fell on deaf ears. Given the historic nature of this landmark campaign (that succeeded on so many levels, with the ardent support of so many), it is unfortunate — and perhaps quite revealing — that the bubble of Hillaryland was that impermeable.

***

And it is hard to wind down a campaign if some surrogates are continuing to operate in full campaign mode. See the role one deep-pocket donor, Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, is playing today. It’s below the fold. Billionaire Clinton donor Bob Johnson’s ‘put Hillary on the ticket’ pressure letter

No shame. I was getting ready for work this AM and on CNN, there was Clinton supporter and founder of Black Entertainment Television Bob Johnson, discussing his letter to House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn that “urges” the Congressional Black Caucus to tell Barack Obama that he needs to put Hillary Clinton on the ticket as his vice presidential running mate. He said it was “for the sake of party unity.”

Let’s do a little rewind; for the sake of party unity, Bob Johnson is a questionable emissary.He wasn’t exactly thinking about party unity (or race-baiting for that matter), when he said this:

At a rally here for Mrs. Clinton at Columbia College, Mr. Johnson was defending recent comments that Mrs. Clinton made regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She did not mean to take any credit away from him, Mr. Johnson said, when she said that it took President Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation he fought for.

“And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood -­ and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book -­ when they have been involved.”

He later “clarified” this with a ridiculous statement:

My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.

It’s hard to see Johnson as an honest broker. But maybe that’s not the point — since we’re talking about party unity, right?

June 3, 2008

The Honorable James Clyburn
U. S. House of Representatives
H-329, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Jim:

Now that you have endorsed Senator Obama as the Presidential Nominee of the Democratic Party; I, as a long-time supporter of Senator Clinton and of the Democratic Party, urge you to do everything possible to unify this party to win the Presidential election in November. For me and millions of other Democrats, I believe that the most important step that you can take now is to encourage the Congressional Black Caucus to urge Senator Obama to select Senator Hillary Clinton as his Vice Presidential running mate.

As a businessman I understand the vitally important role that a Democratic President can play in establishing programs and policies throughout the government that stimulate and support economic opportunities for African Americans. As African Americans we agree that the stakes in this election are far too high to take any chances that this party will not be unified from the top to the bottom in our effort to gain control of The White House.

You know as well as I the deep affection that millions of African Americans hold for both Senator Clinton and President Clinton. You also know that Hillary Clinton has been a long-term advocate for racial and gender equality, from her early days as a lawyer with the Children Defense Fund to her prominent leadership roles on these issues as First Lady and as Senator from New York. But most important, we need to have the certainty of winning; and, I believe, without question, that Barack Obama as President and Hillary Clinton as Vice President bring that certainty to the ticket.

Jim, as the highest ranking African American in Congress, I encourage you to follow your commitment to build a unified party by helping to make this a historic election of Senators Obama and Clinton who both have demonstrated that they have the courage and the ability to inspire and lead this nation to greatness today and for years in the future.

Warm regards,
Bob Johnson

There’s nothing wrong with the letter itself of course, it’s a matter of reading between the lines. On CNN, Johnson alluded to the “support” he’s given to members of CBC.

JOHNSON: What I’m doing is saying there were Congress people on Senator Clinton’s side on the caucus. There were Congress people on Senator Obama’s side of the caucus. What I’ve said to Congressman Clyburn is what we want is to have the best team on the field. I think the best team on the field is Senator Obama at the top and Senator Clinton as vice president.

ROBERTS: Let me ask you, Bob, about the timing of this. You’re doing it at 7:00, the day after he went over the finish line. Some people might say that by getting out this publicly on it, by going to Congressman Clyburn on it, you are trying to limit his options for who he can pick as a running mate. Almost forcing him to take Hillary Clinton.

JOHNSON: Not at all, John. In fact, let me correct something you’ve been saying. My letter was not a pressure letter. My letter was an urge and an encouragement.

As I said before, Senator Obama will make the decision based on what he thinks is in the best interest of the person who can help him win the election, and most important, the person who can help them best govern when he is elected president. So this is Senator Obama’s decision.

What I’ve asked members of the Congressional Black Caucus, many of whom I know and many of whom I support, is that we were on both sides of the primary party. Hillary Clinton supporters, Barack Obama supporters. If the caucus members can come together and agree as I do that it would be in the best interest of the party to have Senator Clinton on the ticket, they carry that petition to Senator Obama.

Now, in DC-speak, that probably means $$$upport, don’t you think? Hey, I could be wrong, but this wouldn’t be the first time big donors for Sen. Clinton have tossed their weight around this primary season.

This is hardball, so it’s not a stretch to believe — since it’s politics, after all — that any and all leverage can and will be used to ensure she’s on the ticket, though Johnson did specifically say that he and Clinton would support Obama even if she isn’t selected. He didn’t say to what extent. The process is in motion; we’re just along for the ride.

Republicans say: Thanks for doing our work for us!

By Amanda Marcotte

Update: Remember that campaigns are usually very responsive to direct communications. You can contact the campaign here and let them know that Clinton’s prior statements undermining Obama’s experience and skills make her a poor choice for a VP pick. It will only take a moment of your time. Hat tip.

 

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