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The Turning Point in the Democratic primary 2008

February 9th, 2008 · No Comments · Politics

The moment:

It was between 10 and 11PM on Saturday night, the night of the South Carolina primaries.

The race was a projected victory for Obama at 7:00:01, as soon as the polls closed.  Obama announced he would make a speech at 9PM, giving Edwards and Clinton two hours to make their concession speeches.  Edwards made his.  Bill was picked up live from a rally somewhere congratulating Obama on the win (for about a sentence) and then right back into his Hillary sales pitch.  Hillary is seen leaving the hotel for a car to the airport.  No speech?  Shortly after 9:00, Obama lays down one of his master oratories (see here:   )  and everyone’s blown away.  “Is it me, or is this guy getting better every speech?”

And I keep thinking Hillary’s just going to nail it, too, wherever it is she’s heading to – must be something big!  But it turns out it’s just some regular whoring campaign rally — and she goes right into her stump speech like South Carolina never happened!  She never thanks her staff or supporters or volunteers or anyone in South Carolina.

And then the next day she says she’s going to Florida to accept “victory” there.

Here is my dispatch from the morning after . . .

I just thought I’d high-five my Obama friends — tremendous victory last night.  He proved you can play clean and win big.

I’ll tell you this, some things that I demand of my party’s leader are civility, statesmanship, being a team player, playing by the rules, and being the steady guiding father (or mother) of the party.

Not only did the Clintons run a, shall we say, indelicate or undignified SC campaign, they were blown out on the scoreboard, and were not remotely gracious in defeat.  How was she so busy after 7:00 that she couldn’t stop at the podium at her headquarters for 5 frickin minutes?  “Congratulations to a great campaign by Barack, thanks to everybody in SC, and now it’s on to Super Tuesday.”  Not only was it ungracious of her, it’s bad politics — and not becoming of someone who wants to be the leader of the party or the country.  Win or lose, I demand that my standard-bearer be gracious in both victory (when it’s easy) and defeat (when it reveals the quality of your character).

I first heard yesterday, then read the stories on it today, that Hillary is planning to challenge for both the Florida and Michigan delegates to be seated at the convention, despite having signed on earlier to stand with the party that no candidate will campaign in nor accept the delegates from those two states.  Everybody pulled their names off the ballots in Michigan — except Hillary.  And now she’s planning to go to a “victory” rally on Tuesday night in Miami.  Not with my vote she’s not.

Rough n tumble politics are part of the game.  But to play any game you have to first play by the rules. To me, sportsmanship is paramount, whether in hockey or politics.  For quite a while I’ve been rationalizing different things the Clintons have been doing.  I have no problem with them getting blown out in S.C. — that happens in some states in every election — but for her to not step up and be gracious and “Presidential” in her defeat, for her to just “issue a statement” and run out of town after the loss like a pampered brat who can’t stand not getting everything her way is immature in the extreme.  And then to have that drunken W.C. Fields of a husband stumble out this morning and play another race card, dismissing Barack’s classy and compelling victory as just another Jesse Jackson, and then have this followed by her wanting to suddenly count Florida and call it a victory — well, I’m sorry, but that is not how the leader of my party behaves.

You can now count me as a former Clinton supporter.  I’ve gotten on the Obama bandwagon, I’ve got 6 cold ones in my bag, and I’m saving the seat next to me for Teddy Kennedy who gets on tomorrow.  And we’re going to Party the right way!

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You can read this and 50 other Political Adventure Tales like it in my 2020 book Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy — Adventures in Politics — 1980–2020.


For one of the most historic events in American history — check out my Obama Inauguration Adventures.

For how Woodstock promoter Michael Lang used my reports in his book — check out how Obama’s Inauguration was like Woodstock.

For an account of the most jubilant night in the history of New York — check the Election Night 2008 Adventure

For a night in New York that started out just as joyous — check out the Election Night 2004 Adventure.

For the kind of creations that got us across the historic finish line — check out my poem and video for Where Wayward Jekylls Hyde.

For an on-the-campaign-trail adventure — check out the physical altercation I was in the middle of with Al Franken at a Howard Dean rally in ’04.

For my tribute to a great political reporter — check out my Tim Russert tribute.

For a full listing of great reporters and news sources — check out my Political Sources Primer.

For how well these sources work — check out my 2012 election predictions.

… or here’s the 2008 projections — in both, I’m over 98% correct.  😉



Brian Hassett  —

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