It’s not easy running for office, especially for president. It’s not just the hours that are grueling and the food that is, well, grueling. It’s not just the ceaseless travel, time away from family and having to give to the same speech over and over and over and over again. It’s also putting yourself totally on the line. It’s voluntarily making yourself a fair target for late night television jokes, for water cooler gossip, for talking head nonsense, for your opponents’ attack teams and for bloggers everywhere.
If you’re running just for ambition or ego it’s not worth it. If, however, there’s more to your campaign than self-aggrandizement, if you care about issues and politics and public policy, then it’s a price wroth paying.
I believe Senator Hillary Clinton does mix public concern with personal ambition. I’ve never been a fan of hers. Her health care reform efforts in the early 90’s were the epitome of the elitism she now attacks: only she and her team had the answer – opinions from others were treated as attacks, not helpful advice. It was an attitude that marked her tenure as First Lady.
That arrogance, now coupled with a sense of entitlement, marked her presidential campaign from the start. The combination was more than off-putting, it was insulting. The tactics she turned to when the going got tough were demeaning, ham fisted and boneheaded. I got my start in politics over 35 years ago working for women candidates when they were few and far between. I’d like to see a woman as president in my life time. I just never wanted to see Senator Clinton as president.
Yet I also recognize that her current health care reform proposal, while seriously flawed, is better fashioned than Senator Barack Obama’s. And I do believe buried beneath the calculation and spin that marks her campaign, there’s a sincere commitment to improving the wellbeing of average Americans. It’s this sincerity and passion for public service that makes her campaign meaningful and, for her, worth the cost.
You know she’s lost the nomination. I know she’s lost the nomination. Even while praying for an unexpected, earthshaking revelation about Senator Obama, she knows it, too. Still, if she wants to play on through to the last primary she should. She’s earned that right. She’s paid the price of admission – in time, pain, money, occasional humiliations and frequently indigestible food. Those calling for her to withdraw should quiet down for at least a few weeks.
Dreams die hard. Senator Clinton dreamed long and fervently of the Democratic nomination in 2008. Less than five months ago it seemed achieving that dream was a certainty. Now it’s certain not to be. If Senator Clinton needs time to come to grips with that, let’s give her the time.