Hillary Clinton, you sure don't make it easy. Since 2005, I've written $7,100 worth of checks to the person I considered most qualified...
Hillary Clinton, you sure don’t make it easy.
Since 2005, I’ve written $7,100 worth of checks to the person I considered most qualified to be the junior senator from New York and, later, president of the United States. In February, I was elected a Clinton delegate in the neighborhood-level caucuses, and looked forward to trying to be appointed a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
It would have been my second Democratic Convention. In 1992, as the volunteer press secretary to the Wisconsin delegation, I led a march of happy cheeseheads up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to the National Republican Women’s Club. We stood and chanted slogans at a Republican “truth squad” that had set up camp there. It was great, goofy fun, and the Daily News thought so, too.
I remember well the feeling on the last day of that convention, which nominated your husband and Al Gore. “I think we’re actually going to win this election,” I told my old friend, who as head of the state delegation had invited me to New York. “I don’t know if I’m ready to be on the winning side!”
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Oh, what times those were! And given what success your husband produced, and your impressive record in New York, it wasn’t exactly hard for me to support you. My sister-in-law, a grocery clerk whom I brought to a fundraiser here in Seattle and who sat and chatted with you, is still in your corner. She’ll be crushed when she reads this column.
Sen. Clinton, I can no longer count myself in your ranks. I’ve decided that, barring some stunning revelation, Barack Obama has earned the Democratic nomination, fair and square. More importantly, I’ve decided that your campaign’s tactics have crossed a line that should never be crossed. I no longer want to be associated with your effort to become the Democratic nominee.
One of your surrogates, Geraldine Ferraro, has said that Obama wouldn’t be where he is in the Democratic contest if he were white. When combined with your rejection of Obama’s qualifications to be commander in chief, and your husband’s disrespect for Obama’s effort, I see an ugly undercurrent.
I grew up in white Milwaukee, which was very white indeed. But most of my heroes were black: Martin Luther King Jr., Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby, Ralph Ellison, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. When a kid, the sight of black people being mowed down with water hoses in Alabama made a Democrat out of me before I knew what a Democrat was.
Woe betide the politician, and especially the Democratic politician, who makes a racist appeal, no matter how artfully they think they’ve constructed it. When George Bush’s campaign did it to Michael Dukakis in 1988, I expected it. That’s what Republicans do.
When your campaign race-baits and disrespects Barack Obama in 2008, you can count me out. Democrats don’t do that. We are better.
I fully realize that political campaigns are rough. The fact that you’re a fighter is one of the reasons I’ve supported you. “Just wait until she goes up against the Republicans,” I have told friends. “They are going to regret the day they ever used the B-word on that woman.”
You’ve been attacked in the worst possible ways, and I’ve very much admired you for the way you’ve handled those attacks. Lesser people, myself included, would have long since crept away by now. I still consider you qualified to be president, and should you happen to win the Democratic nomination, you’d have my vote in November.
But I don’t think it’s going to happen that way. Instead, I think Obama might win Pennsylvania. At the end of the day, I think he will emerge with the most popular votes, the most states, and the most pledged delegates. If the so-called superdelegates should then deny him the nomination, you’ll have won the most tarnished of prizes.
Sen. Clinton, you still have time to salvage your dignity and your reputation. Geraldine Ferraro’s resignation from her fundraising role is a start, but it’s only a start. You should fully apologize to Sen. Obama for the stream of insults that has come from your campaign, and then you should step aside. If you do that, then I’ll know my money and my time were well spent.
Charles Pluckhahn is a former journalist and retired securities analyst who lives in Seattle.