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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
25 Oct 2014
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The Losing Candidate's Public Pain

Comment

To mask the painfully public and publicly painful experience of losing a presidential campaign, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., turned to humor to mask his hurt: "Frankly, I don't mind not being president ... I just mind that somebody else is."

Unless one has actually run for president — and failed — it is all but impossible to grasp the life-altering permanence of that loss. The story is told about former Vice President Walter "Fritz" Mondale, the defeated 1984 Democratic nominee, running into George McGovern, the defeated 1972 Democratic nominee, a couple of years after Mondale had lost to Ronald Reagan. Mondale reportedly asked McGovern, "Tell me, George, when does it stop hurting?" To which McGovern answered, "I'll let you know, Fritz, I'll let you know."

Barring an act of God or of political suicide, Barack Obama will be the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. And Hillary Clinton will not. For Sen. Clinton — whether or not she has accepted this reality — this means the implosion of all her expectations, the shattering of her dream. She desperately needs time and space, which the Obama campaign, resisting the temptation to take a "victory lap," appears committed to giving her. The theme song for every winning campaign's approach toward each losing candidate ought to be Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Texas and Washington Democratic wise man Bob Strauss understood well the suffering of the losing candidate: "It takes a lot of guts to stick your neck out and run for any public office. But the only thing that's tougher than announcing for office is withdrawing from a race, because when you drop out you are saying that you are quitting and that you're beaten."

But Clinton and her campaign must understand fully that respect is reciprocal.

As she winds down her effort, she and her lieutenants must cease and desist from attacking Obama in language that can only be helpful to the Republicans in the general election. No more baseless "Obama cannot win in November" pronouncements from Clinton's former chief strategist, Mark Penn, and no more unsubstantiated warnings about an "October surprise" involving the all-but-certain Democratic standard-bearer from Harold Ickes, longtime Clinton advisor and intimate.

Hillary Clinton, herself, if she wants to leave this race with dignity, must clean up her own act immediately. That means she can make her own positive case for her own candidacy, and she is more welcome to make the case against the record of the George W. Bush administration and the strong and crucial support given to the lame-duck Republican president by Arizona Sen. John McCain.

But for Clinton, that means she must bite her tongue and stop suggesting that Obama cannot win support from white voters in November, as when she insisted to Kathy Kiely and Jill Lawrence of USA TODAY "how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again and how whites in both states (Indiana and North Carolina) who had not completed college were supporting me."

While it is true that Clinton has recently carried by substantial margins white voters in these two states plus Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, she deliberately ignores the facts that Obama won — and she lost — white voters in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont. What are these white voters in these states to Clinton and her campaign? Chopped liver?

If Hillary Clinton wants to be treated with respect and consideration for her feelings as she withdraws from the contest, she must first understand that respect, consideration — and loyalty — are a two-way street.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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COPYRIGHT 2008 MARK SHIELDS



Comments

4 Comments | Post Comment
I hope there is much respect and graciousness in the coming weeks, thanks for highlighting its importance.
Comment: #1
Posted by: dg
Fri May 9, 2008 9:34 PM
I THINK OBAMA HAS BEEN MORE RESPECTFUL THAN THE MEDIA. I AM ONE OF THOSE UNDREDUCATED WORKING MOMS THAT ARE ON THE SIDE OF HILLARY CLINTON. ALTHOUGH I DON'T HAVE A DEGREE I RESENT BEING TREATED AS ADUMMY. IWORKED FROM THE TIME I WAS 16 UNTIL IWAS 75, AS WELL AS RAISING 7CHILDREN AND SEEING THAT THEY ALL GOT AN EDUCATION. I FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL, BUT WAS UNABLE TO AFFORD COLLEGE. MY BROTHERS HAD THE GI BILL. SOME EQUALITY. NO WOMDER US OLDER DUMMIES LIKE HILLARY. SHE SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND. FINISH THE PRIMARIES AND THEN COUNT THE VOTE,
Comment: #2
Posted by: Rose Stern
Sat May 10, 2008 5:11 AM
Sir; I respect your opinion, and believe Mrs. Clinton is doing as much damage to herself as to Mr. Obama, or the democratic party. I don't think it was an accident she was drinking Crown Royal. I think she is what she was born to be: A Republican in Drag. But I will still bet even money that if she could break even, and pay back to herself all the millions she has loaned to her campaign; that she would depart with grace. No one else betting on her is going to get their money back, and most of them had far less to give, or to lose. And she has no way to win unless Mr. Obama decides to lose; so she is praying for a hail mary pass, and an our father intervention, and both are remote possibilities. If people want to get her off the stage before she stinks up the place, they should give her a enough millions to get her through her glory years in style. As it stands, all the money spent now goes to beating democrats, and to breaking the small doners in the face of the larger contest. Watch for her spending little on advertizments, and buying no new ones. It does not look like she is running a phoney war, but she may be making a demonstration aimed more at covering a retreat than gaining victory. So that is my bet. If she can recoup some financial loss she will be history.
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat May 10, 2008 6:41 AM
Nice try Mark. I hope she can listen to you and the many others. Maybe Bill can start trying to rebuild his image and help to lead the way on this one. Maybe.
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Ms. Rose, if you really listen to what Barack is saying, you will find that he is just as much on your side as Hillary is if not much more so. That war in Iraq has done more to hurt you and me, not to mention the MILLIONS of Iraqis whose lives have been completely ruined, than any other single thing our sick our government in a long, long time. She still can't admit she was wrong, and now she has the gaul to start talking about nuking Iran, which Iraq used to keep in check before we turned it into chopped meat. I don't think she will ever do that, but why does she have to say that? What kind of voter do you think she is trying to appeal to by saying such a stupid thing?
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It is not only the media that is insulting your and my intelligence. Didn't you feel a little bit like a chump when she was busted for that whopper about sniper fire in Bosnia? She is a highly educated multi-millionaire trying to pretend she is just about everything other than what she is in order to get a vote. Many of the policies she has offered up in her campaign sound great, but you and I really have no idea how she will handle any issue when it's time for her to make a decision. You can't trust anything she says.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Masako
Sat May 10, 2008 9:15 AM
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