I have to admit that I woke up this morning with a certain sense of elation. It became clear last night that Barack Obama is officially going to be the Democratic nominee for president. YAY! After a grueling primary that literally lasted through all 50 states, the Democrats not only have a nominee, they have the right nominee. So life is good this morning.
Or is it?
Did anyone else notice that Hillary Clinton is still hanging around? And judging be her speech last night, she's not exactly in a conciliatory mood. Even though she's now officially lost the race she's still making claims about having more votes than "any primary candidate in history." This is the party coming together? This is starting to campaign vigorously for whoever the nominee is?
In a lot of ways, Hillary has painted herself into a corner that's going to be very hard to get out of. Here's the situation as it stands:
1) Given the bitterness of the nomination fight, a united Democratic Party needs Hillary Clinton to be a huge advocate for Obama and help get her supporters to become his supporters.
2) Hillary is going to want to save face and bow out on her terms rather than be ignomiously forced out because she out and out lost.
3) The essential reality that fueled her rationale for staying in the race has not changed. Namely, when you count Michigan or don't count any of the states Obama won, she has more votes.
Here's the options available to Hillary. Option 1 is that she basically say that her math was bogus the entire time and that she knows she's lost the race and is looking forward to working to put Barack Obama in the White House. I wouldn't hold my breath for this one for obvious reasons.
Option 2 is an ostentatious show of self-sacrifice where the popular vote winner bows out of the race not because she lost the election, but "for the good of the party." This will simply enrage the hard core Hillary supporters and drive a further wedge into the Democratic Party. Yet, especially given her speech last night, this seems to be the more likely route for her to follow.
There may also be some as of yet unenvisioned third or fourth options. However, anything that comes next for Hillary has at its root options 1 or 2. She needs to repudiate her own logic or hold to her rightful claim but leave anyway.
So it's a good day, but not a great one. There are still too many unknowns for a great day. But until those unknowns are known, I'll take a good day.