Senator Clinton didn’t win. Who will we blame?

After an exhausting primary season – perhaps more exhausting for the general public than the candidates – the race to be the Democratic Presidential candidate has come to a close.

The race has been a hard one and has opened a tremendous number of wounds within the Democratic party, wounds that must be healed if there is any chance for the Democrats to retake the White House this November.  This is the battle that must be won for the good of the country.

One of the biggest concerns I have is how the supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton will react to this conclusion to the primary season.  Some polls have reported that many of her supporters claim that they will stay home on election day or will vote for Senator John McCain instead.  Neither of these would be in their rational best interest, of course, but people have a tremendous capacity to cut off their own noses to spite their face.

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I’m sure that as the wounds heal and the general campaign gets under way, most of Senator Clinton’s supporters will rally behind Senator Barack Obama.  In the meantime, though, I suspect the Blame Game will begin.

“Who was at fault?  Who caused Senator Clinton’s loss?” they will ask.  Someone must be blamed.

As Ron Elving, National Public Radio’s “Watching Washington” columnist, writes rather astutely, there are many reasons for the Senator’s loss but the ultimate fault lies with her campaign.  They made a fundamental and strategic miscalculation at the beginning of the campaign: that the nomination was already theirs and that the real fight was for the general election.

You can read Mr. Elving’s full comments here, but I think he is spot-on in recognizing that even though Senator Clinton’s campaign made a strong comeback after Super Tuesday, that initial arrogance cost her the nomination.

As we turn our attention to the question of Vice Presidential candidates, many people are talking about the potential of a “dream ticket” with Senator Clinton taking the Veep role.  Part of me thinks that this is a wonderful idea.  Part of me has three specific concerns:

  • How does Senator Clinton’s presence on the ticket square with Senator Obama’s “change” theme?  She’s reminiscent of Washington politics and partisan bickering we’ve seen before under President Clinton’s two terms in office.
  • Speaking of Bill, how would he fit into the equation?  He seemed eerily prone to making statements that undermined his wife’s campaign and more interested in keeping the spotlight on himself.  I’m not sure there’s room in the White House for all three of them.
  • Finally, Senator Clinton spent a lot of time (even in her Tuesday night speech after the conclusion of the primaries) explaining why she was the better candidate and why Senator Obama wasn’t well-qualified to be President.  How does she take back all of those remarks without seeming untruthful or self-serving?

I’m interested in hearing your ideas and comments.  The most important thing to me is ensuring that Senator Obama beats Senator McCain this November.  America deserves that.