Off Into the Sunset
The immediate buzz I’ve seen out of the Clinton speech conceding the candidacy and endorsing Obama is that if she had been this gracious toward her competitor during the contest, it might be him giving this sort of speech and not her. I don’t really even know what that means, really, but without a doubt it was the right speech for her to give at the moment, so good on her for doing so.
I personally leaned toward Obama in this contest fairly early on (I think Edwards was marginally closer to my own most perfect candidate this time around, but that was pretty much a non-starter), but as I also mentioned, as far as these leading candidates went on the Democratic side, there was no real downside for me. I would have quite happily voted for Clinton if it had gone her way, not only for her own policies and qualities, but also simply to watch conservative heads explode at the idea of the Clintons setting up shop at 1600 Pennsylvania again. There’s not enough Schadenfreude Pie in the world for that sort of event.
But in the long run I suspect it’s better this way. I do think that when the dust settles what we’re going to find is that Clinton’s stock is going to go way up. Just as being gaveled out of the presidency was the best thing to happen to Al Gore personally (if not the best thing to happen to the nation, given what the alternative turned out to be), I think Clinton’s going to find herself completely springboarded out of her husband’s political shadow, and able to write her own ticket, politically and otherwise, from here on out. She’s the Most Important Clinton now, which is not insignificant (and which must kind of burn Bill, no matter what he says publicly).
Yes, she does have the minor problem of $30 million in campaign debt ($11 million or so her being her own loans to herself), but given how the Clintons have made money in the last few years, this is one of those temporary problems. She’ll just have someone ghostwrite a memoir of her campaign and her personal debt will get zeroed out, zap, boom, done. Meanwhile Obama’s actually got to keep running, the poor bastard. Clinton will be fine.
That is, as long as she can avoid being roped in for VP. People have hinted that Obama needs to avoid having Clinton as VP to avoid being tied to the Clinton legacy, but it’s really the other way around: I’m not sure why Hillary would want to tie herself to Obama’s legacy and policies so concretely when she has so many opportunities now to stand on her own. She’s was second banana to another man for years; it’s not trading up to be the second banana to another. Let Hillary be Hillary now, on her own, in her own spotlight, and let’s see where she goes from here.