Hillary Clinton — Damned if She Does and Damned if She Doesn’t

Sat, March 29, 2008

Making Our Political Voices Heard


The political drums are pounding harder and louder — Get. Out. Hillary. GET! OUT! HILLARY!

GET! OUT! HILLARY!

Politicos ruminate over how much more the Democratic party can “take.” Some voters — the one’s who’ve already cast their ballots — have primary fatigue and want to be done with the process. Some Hillary Clinton supporters have even stopped blogging about their positions because of the unrelenting attacks from those who back Barack.

And an ever-growing number of Obama supporters are demanding that the first viable woman candidate step down for the good of the party.

I’m not the only one wondering why so many feel the need to push out a candidate who has come so far. Is our system so weak? Is the Democratic party so inept that it can’t stand a debate between two qualified candidates? Is that what happens when the Democrats have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to possible candidates?

Former journalist Carole Simpson took Larry King to task last night on this issue, saying, and I paraphrase:


Why are so many people so eager to have the first viable woman candidate for President of the United States get out of the race? She’s smart. She’s qualified. What’s the problem?

The problem is this — Democrats too often cower in the face of conflict. I say this as a lifelong Democrat who has seen it time and time again, especially when it has come to important issues on Capitol Hill.

The war in Iraq. Judicial nominations. Health care for poor children.

And now, many are afraid the party can’t withstand a nomination process that has embraced two incredible candidates.

If we, as a party, can’t handle this, then there really is no point to being in the White House because there’s only more conflict to come, and not from our friends but from our political foes.

If Hillary stays in the race, the drum beat will only grow louder and, undoubtedly, she’ll feel like Horton at the end of Horton Hears a Who when all the other jungle creatures back him into a corner, tie him down and cage him, because he won’t give in to the unruly crowd’s demand that he “admit” what is wrong, even when he knows he is right.

I fear that whichever choice she makes, she will be damned. If Hillary Clinton stays in the race, she’ll be considered a spoiler, even if she wins the nomination. If Clinton accedes to the wishes of people like Senators Chris Dodd and Patrick Leahy, her critics will say, “See, she couldn’t stand the heat of her own party’s primary. Imagine what would have happened if she had become Commander-in-Chief!”

Whether you agree or disagree, hate or love her, at least let’s give Hillary Clinton some points for standing up when so many want her to sit down.

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21 Responses to “Hillary Clinton — Damned if She Does and Damned if She Doesn’t”

  1. TEOM? Says:

    Excellent post. I think one of the many effects of misogyny in this race has been that Hillary Clinton is ALWAYS damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.

  2. Mauigirl Says:

    I agree it’s too soon for Hillary to step down. But I do hope that in the coming races something decisive will start to gel one way or the other. It’s not just a conflict between two great candidates that is the problem. The problem is it’s NASTY. And that is why it is helping McCain. If both sides and their supporters would stop the personal attacks and the “He did this” and “She did that” jibes, it would be OK to have two candidates continue to duke it out. But it isn’t going that way right now. And I’m not blaming either side. But it is not good for the party.

  3. Maria Says:

    Great post. I think that the problem is the system, which allows the primaries to carry on too long, but that is the system we are in and asking someone to bow out before the end is short sighted and undermines the system.

  4. Jobless/non-insured American Says:

    I lived in Florida for the last eight years and have now moved to Kentucky. I am sick and tired of my vote not counting. I think Hillary should stay in the race and maybe we should get rid of some of the Democratic leadership who want to close down the Primary and not allow people to vote. I am beginning to hate the American Electorate and I am very angry that I don’t have a say in who is elected. I am frustrated and do not know where to turn.
    Also, news organization are now driving forces in elections, so how can we have a say when the mainstream is supporting their opinions and no longer focusing on issues and the candidates. The Primary continuing is not going to hurt the Democratic party, because I believe more people are focused on the primary than McCain.

  5. Amanda Says:

    I have an incredible sense of panic that many people have it very wrong. She needs to tough it out. We need her.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a staunch Republican but will vote for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination. I’ve read every page of Obama’s two remarkable books. If the confused, somewhat bitter, and overly ambitious Obama is the man everyone’s been waiting for, God help us all. No mortal creature changes the world. Time changes the face of the world but not its inner mechanisms. Time may make cultural diversities less extreme, but that depends upon lots of complex factors. The Reverend Wright and the Obamas have both fled to the suburbs, right? Now, that’s honest leadership. Who needs a would-be public servant with serious personal identity problems? It’s obvious that Obama is playing the race issue for all it’s worth, on both sides of the “divide.” Clinton’s motivation to serve as a dedicated public servant and not just to occupy the white house because “her” time has come gets my vote. Besides, she’s already been there and knows the ropes. Who needs an affirmative-action devotee who feels entitled to be president of the USA simply because his “black time” has come? Rebecca Boone

  7. Karoli Says:

    Hillary Clinton can stay in all the way to the convention as long as she and her surrogates quit trying to triangulate and promote non-issues as a smear tactic.

    If she wants a debate on Iraq, let’s debate Iraq. If she wants one on health care, fine.

    But the Rev. Wright crap has to stop as should the comparisons to McCain. One listen to the conference calls tells you what the focus of their campaign is right now, and it shouldn’t be.

    They should both be running against McCain at this point and not each other. No personal attacks, no “as far as I knows”, just straight-up-stand-up on the issues.

    On that basis I have no quibble with her staying in to the bitter end. But when she digs in and gets personal, I get fed up.

  8. Jerseygirl89 Says:

    I give Hillary many, many points. I always have. But I am so afraid of another Republican president that all I want is for a Democrat to win in November and so I haven’t gotten very involved with the Hillary/Obama drama.

  9. MamaBird Says:

    I’m just excited she’s still in as my 4 year old’s doing a report on her for women’s history month! And I must say that the older women in my family have *never* forgotten how important it is that she’s the first viable woman presidential candidate. I think the fear of divisiveness is real in the Democratic party precisely because it’s a party that tolerates differing viewpoints instead of, say, a party that makes heads roll if you don’t toe the party line. There’s a very valid fear that we’ll end up torpedoing our own candidate. Hence the calls for real issue debate and not dirty politicking. Nice to meet you Friday night!

  10. Gloria Feldt Says:

    I was in the midst of writing a post for my blog on this topic when I saw this by PunditMom, and I concur totally. I do think Hillary misses leadership opportunities when she doesn’t address the sexism head-on as Barack did with race. But that said, the fact that despite getting taunted and hammered to withdraw, she remains in the race and in a statistical dead heat with Barack says a lot about her leadership strengths–she’s persistent, focused, tough minded, and durable. It also says a lot about her supporters who aren’t going away despite all efforts to make it so.

  11. Moobs Says:

    For many years what I enjoyed about Labour Party conferences in the UK is that we were not afraid to argue long, loudly and publicly about what we cared about.

    We felt that no political party worth its name should shrink from conflict and that it was through vigorous debate that truly winning policies would emerge – forged by the white heat of our internal battles.

    The problem was that the electorate hated it and we never got elected. Under Neil Kinnock a process began where less and less dissent was tolerated. This process reached its apogee under Tony Blair and we were elected with a landslide.

    It may be that the ongoing battle is enthralling rather than alienating the US electorate, but over here it would be considered disaster.

    Does that mean Hillary should stand down? Not at all. You need to select the best candidate. I am crossing my fingers that when the dust settles the winner is able to knock McCain into irrelevance.

  12. PunditMom Says:

    Maria, It’s interesting you should say that. So many thought we would be done by Super Tuesday. Many, like my parents in Pennsylvania, are thrilled that for once in a long time, their votes will actually matter. In recent elections, the outcome has been decided by the time their primary rolled around.

    Karoli, I don’t think the conversation about Rev. Wright is an unfair one. If Obama has associated himself so closely with someone who holds such extreme views, I think that speaks volumes about Obama and what he would be like as President.

  13. Lizzy17 Says:

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I am not a Clinton fan. If she becomes the Democratic nominee, I will vote for her, but I would prefer Obama. That said, at some point the Democratic party has to put up an adequate fight against Republicans, and having two candidates involved in such a nasty campaign this late can only hurt us in the general election. As far as my understanding of the delegate math goes, Clinton can really only win if she gains the support of most of the superdelegates – which is of course completely legitimate. However, as with so much in American politics, it will not appear so; she will be accused of ‘stealing’ the election, and even if unmerited, surely Kerry taught us that allegations can have a damning effect even if they are untrue. Given then how difficult it would be for Clinton to win, and that if she did, it would be quite an uphill battle given the circumstances that she win, I see nothing wrong with hoping she will withdraw. Not because of her gender, or her qualifications, or her ability to be commander in chief, but because more than I care about Obama or Clinton, I want a Democrat in the White House. Were the situation reversed, I would make the same argument – it might be better for feminism if Clinton stays in, but the whole country will be worse off if McCain wins. I wish she would step down simply because if she and Obama continue at each other’s throats until August, we will have another four to eight years of Republican rule.

  14. Nancy Says:

    Here in MN, Sen. Amy Klobuchar endorsed Obama today (I was bummed about that), citing his impressive showing in the MN caucuses, and his ability to excite the younger generation and draw independents.

    Unlike Leahy, however, she encouraged Sen. Clinton to remain in the race, and says she believes this close battle between the two is good for the party. I’m paraphrasing here, but she believes that both are excellent candidates, have good hearts and minds, and, when the time comes, will come together and work it out.

    Klobuchar in 2016!

  15. Mamma Says:

    She is in an awful position. Her numbers are too strong for her to leave. Frankly, the longer this goes on, the more likely I would be to support her. I just wish she wouldn’t come across as so angry. Our country doesn’t need bitterness right now. We need diplomacy.

  16. impromptublogger Says:

    I do think that she has a right to run as long as she feels she can. However, people were pressuring Mike Huckabee to drop out too so I don’t think it’s just a matter of misogyny. People get so hung up on “party unity” that they fail to see how good it is to have the two candidates to keep them both more honest! lol

  17. Grim Reality Girl Says:

    Full disclosure: I don’t like Hilary Clinton and will not vote for her even if my only other choice is McCain (I’m not a big fan).

    I also don’t think she should get out of the race at this point. I think Momma is right — we would all be happier if she were less angry. Maybe she’d be less damned if she were less angry?

    I’m happy a female candidate has come so far. I just wish it were a different woman. I wish I could support her; I wish I could believe in her.

    Yes, I’m supporting Obama. He is the candidate I support and believe in. I hope he wins. It would be fine with me if they take it all the way to convention. A brokered convention could be good for the U.S.A. Imagine how this could energize the youth vote! (Though I am still not a fan of super delegates). I will not defend Rev. Wright — but it is interesting when you listen to that entire sermon. Taking in entirety & context softens the blow of the words. I agree people should not preach hate. I also would hate to be judged by everything my priests have ever said. Props go to Huckabee for standing up on this topic. Who would have thought?

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Democratic candidates (and their operatives) could take the high road? Wouldn’t it be great to see integrity in politics? I know I’m idealistic, but isn’t that what Pelosi should be pushing for? The longer they are on the front page the better for the party — as long as they don’t slaughter each other. Can they resist dirty politics? Not so far.

    I want to believe….

  18. Ivy Brown Says:

    You know, I actually heard the damned if they do, damned if they don’t argument a few months ago regarding some of the black leaders who backed Hillary. The people I interviewed said politicians like John Lewis backed Clinton — whom many of them considered an establishment candidate — because they were afraid of a conflict or loss by backing Obama, the first viable black candidate. This sentiment came out just before South Carolina and Super Tuesday, when Obama was, by and large, an underdog.

    So yes, I agree with you that the Democratic party can’t stand conflict. And yes, I think it’s a shame that a viable female candidate is being told to step out. And still, even as a woman, I’m with MammaLoves…I’m just not into how angry she sounds as she campaigns. I don’t believe that’s what we need right now.

  19. Daisy Says:

    “…two incredible candidates…” Yes. Exactly. And it’s sad that having two incredible candidates is becoming a negative rather than a positive.

  20. modmom Says:

    yay!

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Spare me Klobuchar, who said she was moved to endorse Obama by her 12-yr. old daughter. Wonder what the Senator told the daughter about Obama giving the finger to Clinton on a youtube posted by his own campaign.
    There isn’t any way in the world I could continue being a Democrat if this vulgar cheesy wannabe is the candidate. So he’s cute, he’s charismatic (read sexy), he reads a teleprompter well – vote him Miss Congeniality and let’s move forward.


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