Ron Rosenbaum

I Think I Understand Why Hillary's Not Dropping Out

Faithful readers will recall I “dis-endorsed” Hillary some months ago because of the Nixonian nature of her (and Bill’s) campaign tactics, the beginnings of what has turned out to be a rather shabby imitation of Nixon’s race-based “Southern strategy”. (And you can find further favorable thoughts about Obama here). But I think it finally came to me why Hillary is behaving like she is in the endgame of the campaign.

Two reasons really: First I think she thinks–and I agree with her here–that she’s entitled to the full historic moment her nomination at the Democratic National Convention will represent. An impassioned nominating speech, an impressive parade of those who will second the nomination. And of course the roll call of the states which, the way things look will be close to the very end if her pledged delegates stay loyal . Even though she’s almost certainly going to come up short, she deserves the pomp and ceremony. It will be a historic moment, a presage of a future victory for women (and indeed for men), a near victory in a nomination contest that will be a civil rights victory no matter who wins.

lt will give her an oportunity for–whatever you think of her–a well deserved moment on the national stage. It will give her the opporutnity to be personally gracious in the generosity she shows the winner. I can’t imagine her giving this moment up for anything less than the vice residential nomination (which I seriously doubt she’ll get), or for being chosen (after a last minute concession) to give Obama’s nominating speech. (also somewhat unlikely).

But just in human terms, no matter how little you like her, you can understand her wanting her moment in the sun in the Mile High City. I know if I were her, I would. In more practical terms her nomination and a full roll call vote of the states would give her a chance to position herself for a run in the future.

And in really practical terms I have a feeling that in a corner of her mind, she’s thinking it isn’t over til it’s over. Some tape will surface, some gaffe will be made that causes super-delegates, even pledged Obama delegates to re think their stance. And with only a thin margin of a couple hundred votes out of four thousand between them, anything could happen. Why deal herself out, rather than being ready to take advantage of such an opportunity?

And even though I kind of dread the idea of her winning under those circumstances, I have to admit a perverse fascination with the drama of her endgame. I’m always rooting for overtime in sports, and a convention that came down to the last states in the roll call alphabet will be an all time great drama.

I was present, on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Florida in 1972 when a hotly contested vote over credentials wasn’t settled until the late hours forcing George McGovern to make his acceptance speech at 3 a.m.

It was disastrous in media terms, but unbearably exciting to be there. I recall spending most of the night with the California delegation where (then) Assemblyman Willie Brown was field-generaling the late night comromise over the complicated issue of credentials for the South Carolina delegation as I recall. It required the McGovern forces to abandon a feminist challenge to gender balance in order to prevail over Hubert Humphrey, one of the rare compromises with political cynicism McGovern made.

But I have to admit it was thrilling to be there watching the dealmaking and calculations that are the stuff of history happening a few feet away. Some may say “thrilling” is not a valid political value and I agree. But to understand politics I think you need to understand human nature. And it’s human nature to want to feel the thrill. To understand Hillary Clinton’s endgame I think you have to understand that Hillary feels she deserves–at the very least–all the trappings, all the last minute drama accorded Hubert Humphrey in a losing cause.

Do you really want this to end now, even with all the ridicuous baroque “Zimbabwe” type reasoning the Hillary camp is subjecting us to? I say play it out til the bitter end.

Give Hill the thrill.