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COMMENT: Gay press calls on Hillary to stand aside

Christopher Lisotta May 12, 2008
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If you believe in media narratives (sometimes a very dangerous thing to do) Hillary Clinton’s quest for the White House has come to an end.


Since the May 6 primaries in North Carolina and Indiana, media pundits of all stripes have been falling over themselves explaining the mathematical certainties that spell out Clinton’s imminent defeat and Senator Barack Obama’s insurmountable lead in the pledged democratic delegate count.


After a primary season full of resurrections (think Obama in Iowa, Clinton herself in New Hampshire, Obama again in South Carolina and Clinton on Super Tuesday) Clinton has finally run out of second, third and fourth lives.

But just hours after narrowly winning in Indiana and getting clocked in North Carolina, Clinton apparently chose to ignore the maths and announced she was staying in the race and heading to campaign in West Virginia for that state’s May 13 primary.


The calls to accept the inevitable came quickly.

Yesterday, Clinton’s Senate colleague and supporter Dianne Feinstein told D.C.-based publication The Hill:

“I, as you know, have great fondness and great respect for Senator Clinton and I’m very loyal to her.
“Having said that, I’d like to talk with her and [get] her view on the rest of the race and what the strategy is.

“I think the race is reaching the point now where there are negative dividends from it, in terms of strife within the party.”


On Friday, The Hill followed up with Feinstein, who said she had talked to her candidate.


“She feels intense support from her people. She is persevering. She is very collected. She is very determined. She is really together,” Feinstein said.

“And she’s going to make the decision when the time comes. And she doesn’t feel it’s that time.

“Her strategy is to win this, and she is entitled to the opportunity to try. I’m sticking with her.”


Everyone knows the LGBT community is generally accepted to be fashion forward, taking on cultural trends and styles long before they reach a place of understanding and respectability in general society.

Could it be Hillary’s sizeable and influential cadre of LGBT supporters need to step in and tell her it’s time to make for a graceful exit?


If editorial pages count, the gays have already stepped in.

The Washington Blade, the capital city’s leading LGBT publication, ran an op-ed titled “Hillary, the time has come.”

The Blade initially endorsed Clinton, but Editor-in-Chief Kevin Naff wrote on May 7th:

“It’s time for Hillary’s gay donors and volunteers to look past short-term disappointments and consider the long-term impact of a McCain administration.”


For Democrats desperate to see one of their own occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2009, the worst-case scenario is no clear winner in the delegate count and no nominee until the party’s convention in Denver in August.


A quick review: because pledged delegate counts for Obama and Clinton are relatively close, neither has been able to get to the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Instead, “superdelegates,” party leaders, elected officials and select Democratic activists, will be the deciders.


If Clinton keeps her campaign going and appeals to undecided superdelegates, it could potentially take months until a candidate is announced.

Queer Clinton supporters, should you be talking tough love to your girl?


An LGBT community Democratic operative involved in the campaign says Clinton already has the memo, and that any fears of an old-school convention smack down are unfounded, since that kind of spectacle would do nothing but damage the party and the Clinton brand.


Huffington Post contributor Lawrence O’Donnell’s item from May 7 that had a senior campaign official indicating Hillary will be out of the race by June 15 is accurate, the operative said, noting it could be earlier, depending on what happens in the remaining primaries.

Clinton’s campaign chair Terry McAuliffe echoed that sentiment this morning on NBC’s Today show.


All this hemming and hawing over Hillary’s continued campaigning is a bit much, the operative argued, since a handful of the remaining uncommitted superdelegates could endorse Obama at any time and end Clinton’s run.


“If 50 of them came out, this would be over this afternoon,” the operative said, pointing out that superdelegates could immediately short-circuit the process if they felt Clinton’s continuing campaign was hurting the party or jeopardising Democrat prospects in the general election in November.


Of course, letting the process play out for a couple more weeks gives Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain a free ride, many nervous Democrats and Obama supporters counter, which explains why the Democratic National Committee is running anti-McCain TV ads and Obama has been spending more time on the campaign trail taking on McCain as opposed to Clinton.

This tack helps Obama in other ways, too; by ignoring his Democratic opponent he gives the impression the race is over and the Clinton threat has been neutralised.


In the meantime, Hillary soldiers on, greeting the crowds in West Virginia and working the few remaining votes left.

But just as it is likely Hillary will be campaigning through June, more LGBT voters will begin to worry about the same things Naff is worried about.


One of the comments to Naff’s editorial on the Blade website sums up the feelings of many queer Dems quite nicely.

“The person best able to unify the party now is Senator Clinton. Let’s hope she does the right thing. And soon!”



© 2008; All Rights Reserved


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