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 Friday, May 09, 2008

Hillary, Please Quit, Do It for the Sake of United States of America

  Read here in Chicago-Sun Times

Hillary, it's time to call it quits. Don't do it for Barack Obama. Don't do it for the Democratic Party.

Do it for a nation that is ready for, and has everything to gain from, a vigorous general election campaign, one that pits the Democratic and Republican nominees long enough to really show us who -- Obama or Sen. John McCain -- would be the better president.

After a Democratic primary that brought legions of first-time voters to the polls, that engaged us as never before, to bow out now would be the right -- even noble -- thing to do.

Obama has Hillary Clinton beat in both the delegate count and the popular vote. Her chances of catching up in the six remaining primaries and caucuses are virtually nil. Fewer than 500 pledged and superdelegates remain in play, and by accepted estimates she would have to pick up 70 percent of them to become the nominee. Obama needs just 38 percent.

That calculus could change if Clinton succeeded in seating her delegates from the Florida and Michigan primary races, which were held in defiance of party rules, but that would be a deplorable wrong. Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan.

If Clinton gracefully walks away now, she will be viewed as magnanimous. If she drags this out, she risks destroying her party's chances come November and sealing her reputation as a party spoiler. Just Wednesday, one of her biggest and most stalwart supporters, former Sen. George McGovern, switched his allegiance to Obama and called on Clinton to drop out. Why? Because, he said, she can't win.

On top of that, Clinton's money is drying up, leaving open the very real possibility she'll be forced out instead of leaving on her own terms.

Clinton's increasingly pointless campaign poses a real danger to the long-term prospects of the Democratic Party.

If Obama bests Clinton in the popular vote and in pledged delegates -- as he has all but done -- but Clinton wrests away just enough superdelegates to take the nomination, the fallout within the party could be devastating. Millions of Democrats would be outraged by what they perceived as a blatant disregard for fair play, and we can only guess how many of them might sit out the general election.

African-American voters, who have voted overwhelmingly for Obama, would feel betrayed, and who could blame them? Obama will have won the popular vote.

First-time voters, who came out in historic numbers for Obama, would feel disaffected as well -- and who could blame them? Obama will have won the popular vote.

Other Democrats, of all races and ages, would be equally offended -- and who could blame them? As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said months ago, basic fairness dictates that the candidate who wins the popular vote (and, to boot, the most pledged delegates) should be the party's nominee.

Our concern, however, is less with the health of the Democratic Party (their own rules and machinations got them in this mess) than with the need for a suitably long general election contest. If Clinton persists in slogging on all the way to the Democratic convention in August, she denies all of us the chance to fully size up Obama vs. McCain.

A good long contest, as we did learn from this endless primary, can be highly revealing. But every extra day Clinton stays in the race is one less day voters can weigh the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the two men vying for president.

"We've got a long road ahead," Clinton told her supporters on Tuesday, "but we're going to keep fighting on that path because America is worth fighting for."

Yes, Hillary, America is worth fighting for. But the best way to fight for America now is to give up the fight.

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