It's time for Hillary to concede. I'm the biggest—sometimes, it feels like, the only—Hillary supporter at this paper. I don't agree that she's guilty of "dividing the party," or that this protracted Democratic nomination battle turned the country against the Democrats. My desire for her to concede is both political and personal. First, there's now no scenario in which Hillary can overtake Barack Obama and win the nomination. And second, I don't want to see her embarrass herself and diminish her legacy as a First Lady and a senator.
First, the math. Clinton didn't win enough delegates in Indiana. If she stays in the race (still unclear at press time), Clinton will have to win around 70 percent of the remaining delegates to take the nomination—a shift that doesn't seem plausible even if she continues to chip away at Obama's standing with white, working-class voters in states that have yet to vote. (Hello, Kentucky and West Virginia.) Moreover, Clinton's base of white, working-class voters isn't enough to eliminate Obama's overall lead among delegates and in the popular vote. To win, Clinton would have to win the support of a substantial majority of superdelegates, and they're more than aware which way the political wind is blowing. The longer Clinton lets this race go on, the uglier it will be for her in the end.
And—not that I'm opposed to fighting dirty—hasn't it gotten ugly enough for Clinton already? The pandering gas-tax "holiday," the painfully insincere disdain for "elites" and "economists"—Clinton is embarrassing herself. I'm tired of defending what her campaign has become. Clinton has always enjoyed strong support among red-state, pickup-truck-driving, working-class voters. The fact that she felt the need to pander to them with gimmicks like the gas-tax holiday (as opposed to, say, pandering by drinking beer and eating pancakes, of which both Democratic candidates are guilty) speaks volumes. Her "victory" speech in Indiana was the final straw. She's desperate, and it shows.
More than anyone at this paper, I've hated—and if there was a stronger word, I would use it—the sexist, condescending, and just plain despicable treatment of Hillary in the press and by many Obama supporters. I've hated it every time they called her a "ball-buster" or a bitch or a fat, lesbian harpy. I've hated it every time they've compared her to a nagging wife, every time they've blamed her for her husband's infidelity, every time they've made fun of her laugh. And I hated the fact that Hillary was held to a higher standard than any male candidate would ever be held to. I want to see a competent, liberal, intelligent, tough woman in the White House in my lifetime—and Hillary could've been that woman.
But it's time to face facts: Hillary can't win the nomination. So it's time, to use Obama's hackneyed term, for a little "unity." Now that it's clear that Hillary can't win, we need to unite around the Democratic candidate who has won. Because the Bush administration has been hell and we can't risk four more years of hell. Because Obama and Clinton agree about more than they disagree about. And because we're winning. As aggravating as this protracted election battle has sometimes felt, it's engaged a new generation of progressive voters, and it's given a voice to Americans who want things to change—Americans who want health care, jobs, and an end to Bush's war in Iraq.
I have concerns about Obama, of course. I worry that he's untested, that the red states he's won in party primaries will go for McCain in the general, and that he isn't up for a knock-down-drag-out battle with one of the toughest assholes in the Republican Party. But if anything, this drawn-out battle with Hillary Clinton has prepared Obama for the trials to come. So Hillary has done her job.
Now it's time to call it a day.