Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dear Senator Clinton...

(I wrote this letter yesterday. Initially, I laid out my request to the Senator to be effective immediately. Subsequent reflection--and a lunchtime conversation--persuaded me that this would be unfair, so I rewrote the letter this morning to include a delay until after Texas and Ohio. I would not go so far as Pennsylvania... )

Dear Senator Clinton,

I write with the greatest respect for your passion, your dedication to service and your significant accomplishments to express my personal—and perhaps presumptuous—conviction that you should withdraw from your quest for the presidency of the United States should the coming primaries in Texas and Ohio not provide significant evidence to the contrary.

I confess that I write these words with considerable sadness. I would have wished in any other circumstance to cast my vote for the first woman to make a serious bid for this office. I also believe that you would make an excellent President. I am awed by your command of the issues we face, and am much impressed with the strength and coherence of the solutions you propose. I am persuaded of your passionate belief in this country, as well as your qualifications and experience as the source of a much-needed change of course. I am convinced, too, that your policies are sound.

That said, I believe that the time may very soon come for a truly magnanimous and selfless gesture on your part, to step aside and lend the considerable weight of your personal support, along with your powerful political organization, to your rival, Barack Obama. After so many clear and increasingly resounding victories in recent primaries and caucuses, I think it undeniable that the people of this country are responding overwhelmingly to the vision he represents. And while I admire your persistent optimism and apparent good cheer, I believe it to be in the best interests of the country to allow this phenomenal groundswell to take its course and bring us to an important Democratic victory in the fall.

Rightly or wrongly—and I myself judge it unfair and deeply prejudicial—you bring with you a potential storm of angry rejection by that “vast right wing conspiracy” you so correctly identified a number of years ago. I do not believe it to be insurmountable, but it will certainly be bloody and divisive. Your rival brings no such baggage along with him—though your common opponents will certainly be looking for whatever they can dig up—and his voice is as yet unsullied by such personal animosity, particularly from the right but also, sad to say, from certain disaffected Democrats on the left.

After Texas and Ohio, we will have reached a point in the current election cycle where Democratic unity would give us a huge and very likely unstoppable advantage over Republican dissent and disarray. You, Senator, will be holding the key to that unity. You can achieve it with a single, dramatic decision to sacrifice your personal interests and passion to the common good. You are right: Barack Obama is in many ways unprepared for the heavy responsibilities of the presidency. He will need the wise counsel and guidance of those more experienced and more in command of the know-how of government. But if his success continues through Texas and Ohio, as I believe it well might, there will surely be no further doubt but that he has won not only the ear but also the heart of the American people in a way that no other has done for decades. It’s time to recognize the power of that voice. Further divisiveness will serve only to delay the inevitable, and to alienate potential support from independents and disaffected Republicans.

These words, I assure you, come not from the rash judgment of someone young and easily swayed by overly romantic visions, empty promises, and fine rhetoric. I have lived through more wars than your good self, long enough to recognize the perils of youthful inexperience. Coming from my initial support for John Edwards and his concern for the disadvantaged in our society—I voted early for him, by mail, in California, before he withdrew, as I suspect did many, many others—I have given much thought and discussion to the two remaining candidacies. As I said at the start—and as many others than I have observed—it is painful to be torn between two such excellent prospects. It has taken me many bull-headed years to learn to listen carefully to what others have to say, with the heart as well as the head. And now both my heart and my head concur: unless there’s a radical change in your favor in the coming three weeks, you should no longer stand in the way of this passionate reawakening of the American conscience.

[Obviously I am not the only blogger who thinks this way. Here's another.]


robin andrea said...

Such a great, thoughtful and heartfelt letter, Peter. I'm afraid it's going to fall on deaf ears (or would that be blind eyes!). Here's a lede paragraph from the NYTimes:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s advisers made it clear that they were prepared to take potentially incendiary steps to build her delegate count.

She is not about to concede and work to support the party. This is partly why people don't gravitate towards her. There's a certain selfishness to her grasp.

OTOH, McCain has already started to run against Obama and has tagged him with support: Oh yes, those Petreaus-betray us folks like Obama. It's going to be a dirty fight no matter what.

MandT said...

Brilliant analysis Peter---Our sentiments exactly. We have finally decided for Obama.

Cardozo said...

If only it were possible to peer into the hearts of public figures. I would love to know to what extent Senator Clinton's (and Senator Obama's for that matter) desire for the presidency stems from the laudable impulse to make positive social change, as opposed to personal ambition.

I imagine, as we go forward, such motivations may become clearer. I just hope that Obama, who hasn't shown the willingness to go on the attack, doesn't end up the "Al Gore" in this scenario, ceding a close race to Hillary in the face of "incendiary steps"

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Excellent letter, Peter. It would assuredly be right action on her part, but I don't think that she is really a team player.

You expressed it best in a previous post when you said something to the effect that Clinton wants power while Obama wants to EMpower.

"Incendiary steps" sounds chilling considering all that we know about the nefarious workings of the Clinton machine.

I believe that the American people are responding to qualities we sense in Obama which are far more important than the amount of actual experience he has accrued. That is what advisers are for, and unlike Hillary, he is humble enough to listen to their wise counsel so that this country will once again be a nation of, by and for the people.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks all for the responses. Robin, I've much appreciated your presence here on The Buddha Diaries and your special wisdom. Your site is always a treat to visit. (Did I mention all those birds in England? Such a joy to be in the constant presence of their songs!) Welcome, Mandt, to the Obama support group. I think the choice is getting clearer by the day. As for personal ambition, Cardozo, I'm quite sure that's a significant part of the psychology of anyone who chooses this path; but, as both Robin and heartinsanfrancisco suggest, it's dangerous when it verges over into selfishness or ruthlessness. Thanks again, everyone!

PeterAtLarge said...

By the way, I'm actually sending this entry in (hard copy) letter form to Senator Clinton's Washington office, and I'd encourage others to do something similar. These things need to be said.

david said...


Great letter, so well written. We voted and campaigned for Obama in NY.

Leadership is 9/10ths inspiration. Mr. Obama is what our country needs.

Anonymous said...

I find you letter a pathetic attempt at seeking publicity.

You have choose to jump on the much ballyhooed Clinton bashing bandwagon. If Obama had more experience, you might have more to bash on him.

I hope one of your books makes it on the Oprah book of the month list, as you have just made it on my shit list.