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Column: Instead Of Offering Clinton VP Slot, Obama Should Address Her Backers

This story was written by Graham Bowman, The Post

Now that all the primaries are over and Barack Obama has won the required amount of delegates, we can go from awkwardly explaining why Obama is inevitably going to be the Democratic nominee to asserting that he is the nominee. However, before the party can begin circling the wagons around him, Barack will need to publicly address the very large elephant (or donkey) in the room: Hillary Clintons loss. Many Clinton supporters feelings are raw. According to exit polling, most Clinton supporters say they are unwilling to vote for Obama in the general election.

The reason why her loss in this presidential primary is different than Romney or Edwards loss is gender. To many, the meteoric rise of Obama was a very important symbolic triumph over the specter of racism. However, the flip side is that to her supporters, Clintons corresponding loss is yet another example of misogyny holding women back. 2,129 delegates versus 1,910 delegates might as well read 75 cents to the dollar.

The hurt feelings are understandable. While I am not black, I have a lot personally invested in Obama based on his message of change and unity. Most of his speeches and the parts of his books I have read hit home and make sense in a way no other politicians words have. So I understand what a tremendous letdown it must be for Clinton supporters who are similarly emotionally invested in the Clinton campaign. It should not go unaddressed.

Although sexism surely played a detrimental role for Clinton campaign, it is dishonest to assert that it was her sole undoing. For every claim of sexism against Clinton, another example could be found of racism against Obama. Clinton was not alone in her battle against bigotry. Beyond racism, Obama had to overcome the massive Clinton political apparatus constructed over eight years in the White House as well as the enormous political and campaigning power of a popular ex-president. Considering all these strikes against Obama, especially racism, its foolish to assert Clintons loss can be attributed simply to sexism. Something else clearly was at work.

Because of this, I feel Obama has no obligation to offer her the vice presidency. They both faced similar obstacles, Obamas perhaps greater, and Obama won. Furthermore, choosing Clinton as his running mate would be severely detrimental to Obamas message of change. Imagine watching Obama being sworn in with Hillary and Bill by his side. It would have the aesthetic feel of watching that kid in your third grade class present a project his parents clearly helped him with. Obama simply cannot be a forceful symbol of change with the baggage of the entire 90s hanging from his shoulders.

Clinton is also the embodiment of the kind of politics that Obama is seeking to move our nation away from. Ever since the race started tightening around the time of the South Carolina primary, Clintons attacks have become increasingly petty and offensive. Her husbands race-baiting in South Carolina, The Karl Rove Obama is an elitist because he doesnt wear a flag pin tactic in Pennsylvania, her bribing of the American public with the false promise of a gasoline tax holiday (which any Econ 103 student can tell you is a sham) and lets not forget her recurring harrowing war story of being shot at by sniper fire in Bosnia, which was revealed to be a total lie. All of these desperate and insulting campaign tactics disqualify her as someone who deserves to be on a ticket that is supposed to represent a movement toward respectful and constructive politics. The argument doesnt go both ways. Obama chose to take the high road as much as possible during this campaign, perhaps even losing some votes because of this. Never once did he seek to drag the debate into irrelevant name-calling or cheap shots when he easily could have, especially with the Bsnia sniper fire story.

Despite the criticism of Clinton that I have detailed above, there is still something valid in the pain felt by those disappointed by her loss because of what she embodied: the first viable female candidate.

As we learned during the Jeremiah Wright scandal and Obamas corresponding speech on race in Pennsylvania, Obama is not one to shy away from tough topics. I believe he should express a nuanced understanding for the enormous letdown felt by many Clinton supporters, but at the same time explain as clearly as possible why it is Hillary cannot be his running mate. I feel doing this is the only way to truly unite the party before November.

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