Throughout the primary, she has been under attack for her divisiveness, comments, and behavior. Saturday, she put that behind her with what Pat Buchanan qualified as the “model of a concession speech, which said goodbye but embraced her opponent.”
There was a lot to contend with. Clinton’s expectations had been big. When Katie Couric had asked her in an interview, “What if it’s not you?” — Clinton couldn’t imagine it as a possibility. Neither could her strategists. Maybe because it was a close race, it was harder for Hillary and her supporters to let go. But now she has. In front of a crowd of between 8-10,000 with her mother, daughter, and husband by her side, she delivered the goods. In the aftermath of defeat, her contribution to the dialogue will be long remembered.
Clinton opened with, “Well this isn’t exactly the party I planned, but I sure do like the company.” She thanked and acknowledged her supporters and their accomplishments telling them, “The dreams we shared are worth fighting for.” Clinton then transitioned into her endorsement saying, “The way to continue our fight now is to help elect Barack Obama the President of the United States.” In urging her followers to work for Obama and put a Democrat back in The White House, she emphasized how important it was “to win in November, and turn around our country” because so much was at stake. In the sentence that said it all she pronounced, “Today I am standing with Senator Obama to say, ‘Yes we can.’ ”
Clinton acknowledged that both she and Obama had achieved milestones, and invoked the historical precedents of the suffragettes, the abolitionists, and civil rights workers. There can be no complaints that she was not clear in her intent. She stressed, “I want to say to my supporters…every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from going forward. We have to work together for what can still be. I hope and pray that you will join me in that effort.”
Perhaps now that the dust is beginning to settle, a new examination of sexism in our society will be given the attention it warrants and deserves. If so, Clinton’s candidacy will have a deeper, richer implication. Appearing on The Larry King Show, Hillary Clinton biographer Gail Sheehy observed, “Her advisors served her badly by running her as a man.”
Obama will need to reach out to the women who feel disenfranchised by Clinton’s defeat. Maybe Hillary the healer will turn out to be even more potent than Hillary the fighter.