A suicidal choice for Clinton supporters

Posted: Monday, September 01, 2008

I get the part about feeling disappointed and bitter. I can even understand their impulse to sit this one out. After all, this was supposed to be Hillary Clinton's time.

What stumps me, however, is the possibility that some of her most ardent Democratic supporters, angered by her defeat, might vote for Republican Sen. John McCain.

That makes about as much sense as swallowing hemlock.

How can Democrats, drawn to Hillary Clinton by her powerful advocacy for children, inspired by her support for the rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade, emboldened by her work as a champion for middle- and working-class men and women and her courage in the face of relentless right-wing attacks, even think of putting a John McBush in the White House?

But that is afoot, I hear, even after both former president Bill Clinton and the New York senator gave Barack Obama ringing endorsements at the Democratic National Convention.

I can appreciate the hurt many Clinton supporters felt. This was the year America would have elected its first female president. That Clinton came so close to winning the nomination makes her defeat all the more painful and difficult to accept.

Her reversal in fortunes was stunning.

She lost her front-runner status in the Iowa snows, and she didn't see it coming. After that, the slide was hard to stop. The once palsy-walsy media, sensing her vulnerability, started getting picky.

She was let down by her high-powered staff, which managed to run the campaign budget into the red while getting outperformed by the Obama campaign.

And her husband, well-meaning though he was, ended up as her albatross.

And yet, through pure grit and with a single-minded focus on winning, Hillary Clinton nearly pulled it off.

So there is a rawness to her defeat, a feeling that Obama snatched what didn't belong to him, a belief that she was horribly mistreated in the process.

The desire to punish Obama by not voting for him in November is an honest but shortsighted reaction. But voting for John McCain, out of spite, is an act of political suicide.

There is nothing in McCain's record to suggest that he supports Hillary Clinton's approach to problems at home or abroad.

Unlike Clinton, McCain doesn't think the American people deserve a raise. He has opposed an increase in the minimum wage 19 times.

While Clinton was fighting for Medicare prescription drug coverage, McCain consistently voted against it, at least 28 times.

Clinton has been a tireless fighter for universal health care. McCain, on the other hand, has a plan that will jack up health-care costs and leave some Americans with no health care coverage at all.

McCain supports overturning Roe v. Wade. Given the opportunity, he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would happily strike down women's reproductive rights and turn loose the government on its citizens in the name of national security. That would not happen under Clinton.

Whether the issue is the war in Iraq (McCain opposes a firm timetable on withdrawal; Clinton and Obama want to get us out), cooperation on international health and foreign aid issues, or relations with America's closest allies, Clinton and McCain don't see eye to eye.

So why would true Clinton supporters help give the White House to an out-of-touch Republican who stands for just about everything she opposes?

The anger of some Clinton supporters over her defeat and what they perceive as her snubbing for a spot on the Democratic ticket may be clouding their judgment.

Without doubt, if Hillary Clinton were the Democratic presidential nominee, John McCain and the Republican attack machine would be tearing into her - and her family - in the same way they have been attacking Barack and Michelle Obama.

John McCain's strategy is not hard to fathom.

Sensing a chance to pull in some disaffected Democrats, he has been publicly making nice with Clinton and her female supporters.

His selection of a first-term governor, Sarah Palin, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency shows just how cynical McCain can be.

Make no mistake: McCain's objective is to pound a wedge between Obama and a significant part of the Democratic Party's base - women.

His conservative spots haven't changed one bit. McCain is a George Bush loyalist, voting with the Bush administration more than 90 percent of the time.

So what's drawing Hillary Clinton's die-hard fans to John McCain? Is the attraction only skin-deep?

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