Too late to do her — or any of us, perhaps — much good, I have advice for Hillary Clinton. It’s from that generally overlooked and under-appreciated canon of wisdom, advice, and entertainment, American Country & Western music.
You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
You’ll find dozens of shrewd, well-informed analyses in the magazines and newspapers, but I’ve yet to read one that’s more succinct, pointed, and listenable. (If you can spare three minutes, listen to Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler. You might even like it.)
The Clintons and the Clintonians apparently still have not grasped the truth of that first line. How else to explain her refusal to acknowledge defeat until embarrassed party officials had to drag her from the field? Even after it was over, she planned to wait a couple weeks before officially conceding, and party officials, who must by now be ready to excommunicate the entire Clinton cabal, then had to drag her to the loser’s stand.
Even before the final primaries on Tuesday, aides said Mrs. Clinton knew she could not continue. But she told them she would not concede that evening in the college gymnasium where she was to give her speech celebrating victory in South Dakota. She and her supporters, she told aides, had earned the right to their own day, and she planned to take two weeks to think through her options…. The next day, though, Democratic supporters in Congress pressed her on a conference call to give up quickly. She gave in, hung up and asked top advisers to prepare a plan to withdraw.
And as for countin’ money while you’re sittin’ at the table… the Hillarians did that for two years, so thrilled by their own pile that they never noticed what was on the other side of the table.
After an initial fundraising tear, Clinton found that many of her big donors had “maxed out” by reaching the legal contribution limit, while Obama was still reeling in small online donations from across the country. He would outspend her by tens of millions of dollars in the campaign’s late stages.
So Hillary has lost. Has lost, that is, immediate access to the White House. For many of her supporters, she has only begun. Winning is only a matter of time.
Her own voice. That’s what we heard from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as she left her effort to run as the Democratic presidential nominee. Standing in the National Building Museum, surrounded by several thousand supporters and her family, Clinton didn’t much end a campaign but define her role in the future of national politics. No matter what, this much is clear: The era of Bill Clinton and his Democratic Party has finally come to a close. Hillary’s time has just begun.
Well, Obama still could choose her as running mate. An Obama-Clinton ticket. To many Democrats — or anyway to many Clintonians — that sounds perfect. To some of us, however, that sounds suicidal. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is George Will who has best articulated my… shall we call them misgivings? reservations? fears? Will addresses what he calls
the dotty idea that Barack Obama should choose to have Hillary Clinton down the hall in the West Wing, nursing her disappointments, her grievances and her future presidential ambitions while her excitable husband wanders in the wings of America’s political theater with his increasingly Vesuvian temper, his proclivity for verbal fender benders and his interesting business associates. That this idea survived her off-putting speech Tuesday night, after Obama won the right to choose a running mate, is evidence that many Democrats do not fathom the gratitude that less-blinkered Americans feel for Obama because he has closed the Clinton parenthesis in our presidential history.
What next? I think Frank Rich has summed up the campaign, the outlook, and the election about as well as anyone. It’s too long to reprint here, and too good to excerpt meaningfully. I encourage you to read the whole thing.