What Clinton’s Impending Loss of Dem Nomination DOESN’T Mean

Next Tuesday will probably bring an end to Senator Hillary Clinton’s drive for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Barack Obama currently enjoys a double-digit lead over his opponent in Texas, the state where Clinton cut her political eye teeth, and is gaining on her here in my home state of Ohio, long thought by the Clinton camp to be a likely firewall for her candidacy.

But there will be no Clinton firewalls. The end I thought inevitable on the day after the Iowa caucuses—an Obama nomination, is now coming more clearly into view. This outcome was only forestalled by a sympathetic wave of support given to Clinton in New Hampshire when right wing talk show hosts and one-time nomination rival John Edwards belittled her for tearing up in a Q-and-A. (See more here and here.)

There will be many explanations offered for why Clinton, seemingly imbued with many advantages, failed to catch on sufficiently to win her party’s nomination.

One that I’ve put forward is that Clinton is a conventional laundry list candidate. Even when Obama presents laundry lists, he makes them sing. Clinton shows no facility, seemingly incapable, except in rare moments, of connecting with the average voter.

The Economist has noted that Clinton ran as though she were an incumbent. I note that in her most recent debate with Obama, she talked about spending seven years negotiating with foreign governments, as though she had already served in the Oval Office. The experience card played by Clinton, which was of dubious truth anyway, was probably not the one to play in a year which Democrats, at least, are putting more stock in change. (See here and here.)

But there is one reason some people are likely to advance for Clinton’s failure to win the Democratic nomination which I feel certain is not true. They will say that the US isn’t ready for a woman in the Oval Office.

I disagree. The US is more than ready for a female president and the proof is in the most recent primary exit polling.

In last Wednesday’s Wisconsin primary, Barack Obama won a majority of female voters in every age group, save those sixty and older. This result reflects what the women I know are telling me about how they will vote in Ohio’s Democratic primary next week.

Women over sixty see a vote for Hillary Clinton as a vote to elect the nation’s first woman president. One seventy-something of my acquaintance has said that this is the reason she’s already cast an absentee vote in our state’s primary for the New York senator. Accustomed to the pervasive sexism that once confined women to the home, these women see it almost as an act of patriotism to vote for Clinton.

But women under sixty, the confident beneficiaries of the fight of the modern women’s movement for equality, see no need to vote for Clinton just because she’s a woman.

That women competing for and winning the presidency will become commonplace is something about which they have no doubt. (I share that sentiment as an American and am enthusiastic about it as a Christian.) To vote for Clinton, in spite of misgivings about or disagreements with the senator which they might have, strikes them as ridiculous.

This is an opinion expressed to me by every under-sixty year old woman I know, the lion’s share of whom are Democrats. Women, once thought to be the bedrock of Hillary Clinton’s support, are so confident that women presidents are just around the corner that they feel no need to vote for the first female to credibly vie for a major party’s presidential nomination. Their confidence is a clear indication that what they assume is actually the case.

The United States is ready for a woman president. But, in part owing to the verdict of women in Wisconsin, who last week helped Barack Obama win the ninth of his ten consecutive primary or caucus victories, Hillary Clinton isn’t going to be that woman.

[Mark Daniels writes about politics and other topics at his personal blog.]

UPDATE: In response to Ryan’s comments, I wrote, “I didn’t mean that it was her tears that brought out the vote for Clinton in New Hampshire. It was the savage assault she underwent from the the talk show right and John Edwards in the wake of her tears that caused people who, the evidence indicates, were going to vote for Obama overwhelmingly on the Monday before the election…to tell the critics where to get off.

“Most voters are, I think, fair-minded. Some New Hampshire Democrats, certain that Obama would win and that their votes for Clinton wouldn’t matter, decided to send a message to the sexists who wanted to spurn Clinton for her tears. If you read the piece I wrote about “tears in New Hampshire,” which is linked in this post, you’ll see that I compared the critique of Clinton choking up to a similar one involving Ed Muskie back in 1972. Then, Muskie was the victim of similar attacks to those of Edwards and the right wing talk show hosts. Those attacks brought him down. It’s another measure of the decreasing influence of sexism and, more importantly, our willingness to accept the humanity of our candidates, that in 2008, people rallied around Clinton. That wasn’t the case for poor Muskie.

“The switched votes in New Hampshire, voters making a statement about their rejection of what they saw as a sexist attack–and which, in many cases, probably was a sexist attack, gave Clinton her win there and extended a candidacy which, after her loss in the Iowa caucuses, would have spelled the end of her candidacy.

“I hope that this clarifies what I was saying here. Thanks for your comments.”

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Author: MARK DANIELS

  • http://mountaininterval.org/ ryan

    I'm an Obama supporter and have been hugely disappointed (disgusted even) with the news out of the Clinton camp over the past few days, but this article seems unfairly biased for a site that labels itself as “moderate”. Citing a poll that is a far outlier of others (“Senator Barack Obama currently enjoys a double-digit lead”) as definitive and stating that Clinton's strength in primaries after Iowa was solely due to tears (“This outcome was only forestalled by a sympathetic wave of support”) is unfair. She's a good candidate, and if Obama was not running many of his supporters would be enthusiastically behind her. No politician is perfect, and while she seems to have more flaws than some, Obama is also not perfect – he took an ugly dig at Clinton over her Wal-Mart ties during a debate, has taken a disappointing stand with respect to 527 groups running ads on his behalf, and has a legion of supporters who often come across as intolerant of anyone who chooses to support another candidate.

    One of the most appealing aspects of Obama is something that many of his supporters (myself included) need to remember – he is asking Americans to remember that we are ALL Americans. Clinton has dedicated her life to the government of this country and done many good things in her career, and that's worth highlighting even though she may not be the candidate that the majority of Democrats are choosing to support right now. Obama will most likely win the nomination, but remember that a significant number of people supported her and did so for good reasons.

  • http://crapomatic.blogspot.com Dyre42

    This may not be an indicator of anything but I just voted in my first ever primary (in 18 years of voting) to vote against her.

  • MJDaniels53

    Ryan:
    I didn't mean that it was her tears that brought out the vote for Clinton in New Hampshire. It was the savage assault she underwent from the the talk show rght and John Edwards in the wake of her tears that caused people who, the evidence indicates, were going to vote for Obama overwhelmingly on the Monday before the election, that caused people to use their vote to tell the critics where to get off.

    Most voters are, I think, fair-minded. Some New Hampshire Democrats, certain that Obama would win and that their votes for Clinton wouldn't matter, decided to send a message to the sexists who wanted to spurn Clinton for her tears. If you read the piece I wrote about “tears in New Hampshire,” which is linked in this post, you'll see that I compared the critique of Clinton choking up to a similar one involving Ed Muskie back in 1972. Then, Muskie was the victim of similar attacks to those of Edwards and the right wing talk show hosts. Those attacks brought him down. It's another measure of the decreasing influence of sexism and, more importantly, our willingness to accept the humanity of our candidates, that in 2008, people rallied around Clinton. That wasn't the case for poor Muskie.

    The switched votes in New Hampshire, voters making a statement about their rejection of what they saw as a sexist attack–and which, in many cases, probably was a sexist attack, gave Clinton her win there and extended a candidacy which, after her loss in the Iowa caucuses, would have spelled the end of her candidacy.

    I hope that this clarifies what I was saying here. Thanks for your comments.

    Mark Daniels

  • http://mountaininterval.org/ ryan

    Mark -

    In fairness, the bulk of your article was extremely well written and very fair, it was simply the opening two paragraphs that bothered me – imagine an article on Obama that started out with something to the effect of “With a campaign perceived to be based on little more than 'Why can't we all just get along' Obama finds himself unable to break into Hillary Clinton's double-digit poll lead in Ohio and Texas.” While an argument could be made that some polls show this to be true, and many saying that Obama's message is nothing more than “kumbaya”, it would be tough to see such an article as being unbiased. That said, the remainder of your article was insightful and reflected well on this site.

    And I agree with your comments – just as the NY Times piece undoubtedly brought some who were attacking him to support McCain, it seems that some of Hillary's support in New Hampshire from undecideds was motivated by those attacking her and calling her campaign “finished”. That said, the bulk of her support and successes came from people who believed in her campaign, and it is important to remember that if she loses, it was not because she was a horrible candidate so much as because she came up against a candidate who represented what the country was looking for better than she did.

  • DAMOZEL

    I'm a Clinton supporter. I'm troubled by the bent in the media and elsewhere to write as if she had no support, rather than half (or slightly less) than half of the Dems voting in the primaries.

    Responses to candidates are largely visceral. You are not impressed by Hillary's presentation; I am. You are impressed by Obama's and feels he makes them 'sing'; I believe that he is very flexible in his use of 'facts' and don't feel that his gift for rhetoric makes up for all the ways in which he is clearly not at her level in terms of anything else.

    It's true that she may lose the nomination by a hair that she was supposed to take by a landslide. This is failure, but not of the definitive sort you seem to suggest.