Indiana Daily Student; by Indira Dammu; August 31, 2008
Before the start of the brutal Democratic primary earlier this year, I would hardly have called myself a Hillary Clinton supporter. Like many liberals, I found her political positions to be extremely self-serving, and her vote for the Iraqi invasion was unforgivable. So, it seems like a strange turn of events that I would offer a defense for the New York senator today.
I wasn’t the only one to watch Clinton’s excellent speech Tuesday night at the Democratic Convention in Denver. It was a testament to her strength that she delivered an unequivocal endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama even though she wasn’t even vetted for the vice presidency. Much of Clinton’s speech concerned party unity, and this was understandable.
The senator and her supporters have been blamed, unfairly, for dividing the Democratic Party. This harmful narrative that arose, largely due to the media, has simply not been borne out by the facts.
For instance, much of the analysis during the convention concerned an Aug. 15-18 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in which just 52 percent of Hillary Clinton’s supporters said they would vote for Obama. Few media outlets seemed to be interested, however, in an Aug. 19-22 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 70 percent of Clinton supporters backed Obama.
Indeed, contrary to criticism, Clinton supporters have demonstrated their willingness to unite behind a strong Democratic agenda. While Clinton donors have given Obama more than $3 million in June and July, Obama’s backers have given Clinton less than $430,000 since he asked them to help pay off her campaign debt.
Even veteran U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, a longtime Clinton supporter, offered to speak at the convention to demonstrate reconciliation between Obama and Clinton’s African-American supporters. His request was denied by the Obama campaign.
Clinton’s speech was also meant to address a lingering question in the minds of many: What does she really want?
The question of what Hillary really wants is a symptom of how Democrats treated her. We ridiculed and mocked her during the primaries and when it was done, we scratched our heads and wondered what Hillary stood for. While I’m not affiliated with the Clinton campaign, one can assume that Clinton just wanted her supporters to be respected. You know, those 18 million individuals, many of whom were labeled as angry, uneducated racists.
But this campaign was also about respect for Hillary herself. Call me a bitter feminist – like I haven’t heard that before – but Clinton’s treatment by the media was simply appalling. Moreover – for many democrats, particularly males – it became easier to dismiss sexist commentary simply because, well, it was Hillary.
After Clinton’s prolonged presence in the primaries, her speech Tuesday night simply acknowledged her historic candidacy. And ultimately, this was the overarching message of her speech. Clinton didn’t devolve into a predictable lamentation about the state of women’s affairs Wednesday. Instead, she was hopeful and generous – a fitting end to a candidacy that has, indeed, helped shatter the highest glass ceiling of all.