Fighting The Good Fight
Yesterday, Steve wrote about the state of the campaign - particularly the Clinton campaign - and clearly he wasn't happy with the latter. I have the greatest respect for Steve, but in general, I do have a different opinion. I'll try to write more about this later, but I want to say a few words today. (Reader Paul Bua sent in his thoughts).
Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, a true American hero, is a person I respect immensely. The main reason is that the entire Republican machine - straight from the White House on down - went after him and his wife Valerie Plame Wilson in the most ugly way possible, and he stood and fought them from coast to coast, relentlessly for years. For a period of time, after the Democrats in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) displayed their stunning incompetence by allowing the GOP to use the SSCI Phase I report to assassinate the character of Joe and Valerie, both Joe and Valerie (whom I have met and consider to be extraordinary individuals) went through a very tough time in the public sphere (Valerie wrote about it a bit in her book Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House). The reason I mention all this is that Joe wrote an opinion piece recently about why he is supporting Sen. Clinton and he mentioned something in the piece that he had shared with me late last year (emphasis mine):
Nobody dislikes such poisonous partisanship, especially in foreign policy, more than I do. I am one of very few Foreign Service officers who to have served as ambassador in the administrations of both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, yet I have spent the past four years fighting a concerted character assassination campaign orchestrated by the George W. Bush White House.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the few who fully understood the stakes in that battle. Time and again, she reached out to my wife - outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson - and me to remind us that as painful as the attacks were, we simply could not allow ourselves to be driven from the public square by bullying. To do so would validate the radical right’s thesis that the way to win debates is to demonize opponents, taking full advantage of the natural desire to avoid confrontation, even if it means yielding on substantive issues. Hillary knew this from experience, having spent the better part of the past 20 years fighting the Republican attack machine.
This is one of the many reasons I have been proud to support Hillary Clinton. This is also why I am way beyond impressed by her ability to completely ignore the hatred against her, the repeated obituaries about her and her campaign, and the almost always wrong "conventional wisdom" (something the progressive blogosphere has long sneered at, but in this election not as much). Instead, she has been relentlessly fighting the good fight (well in some states, not so well in others). I know few people who are that inspiring - the kind of people who don't let bad news or losses or naysayers dissuade them from doing what they have to do. This primary election will be over when the votes have been cast and counted and I certainly hope she doesn't give up prematurely. She still has a reasonable chance of winning the nomination, even though it won't be easy by any means.
I know Sen. Clinton is not the perfect Democrat. Guess what, no one is. I did not support Hillary Clinton because I expected her to be the best campaigner or because I thought her campaign itself would be the most well run (I personally never believed in the notion that she had the best campaign team). I did not support her under the assumption that she is infallible. Quite the opposite. I knew, and know, she is an imperfect person - although a person who is in some respects larger than life. In fact, I did not even expect that she would have an easy time in the primary just because she had strong leads in the national polls months ago (after all, the polls in Iowa had revealed a race within a few points for a long time and national polls mean little in that scenario). I expected the exact opposite and even shared that view with a couple of people in December before I announced my support for her. In other words, my view has always been that she would have a much tougher time winning the Democratic primary than the general election and that the reverse is true for Senator Obama. After all, in the primary, I expected she would also face (a) the wrath of many Democrats and not insignificant segments of the "netroots" who have disliked her for a long time and who would, gleefully or otherwise, reinforce the attacks from the media and Republicans and (b) a capable, charismatic and extremely well funded opponent who would not hesitate to use divisive and false Republican talking points against her in a media environment that strongly favors him. In short, I expected a storm. As it turns out, I underestimated the storm - and I suspect, so did the Clinton campaign. As a result, they miscalculated and made mistakes. What is fascinating to me is that despite all this she has a huge and loyal base that has kept her going and is coming through for her at a time of financial need (will they make a million calls?).
I supported Hillary Clinton because she is the best Presidential candidate in the race. If anything, everything I've seen has only made me even more convinced that this is the case. She and her campaign have obviously made mistakes, but that doesn't change my view that she would be the best President among those running today. If anything, her ability to keep going for so long under such negative coverage almost across the board is nothing short of astonishing. No other candidate, in my view, would have as easily survived the onslaught she faced and continued ahead unfazed. She has proven to be the Energizer bunny of Energizer bunnies - although it remains to be seen if that's enough for her to win. I look forward to a spirited campaign in the coming weeks and am more than happy to continue to support her during this period.
When the primary is over and the eventual Democratic nominee emerges, I will naturally be happy to support the nominee because it is time to elect a Democratic President to the White House.