Dear Hillary, don’t be like Tonya Harding

We have never met but I hope you won’t mind my addressing you by your first name. But it seems natural to address you as Hillary because that is the way it is on so many campaign signs.

Let me introduce myself: 60-something, college-degreed professional woman who came of age, like yourself, in the turbulent 60’s.

So, let’s have a little woman-to-woman talk … but, first, take off those pointy-toe high heels that are so hard on the feet … sit down in a comfy chair with your feet up … take a deep calming breath like they teach in yoga class: breathe in deeply, hold it for a count of ten, then release it all in one cleansing whoosh. Get yourself a cup of tea and sip it slowly — green tea would be good because of all those anti-oxidants and we can’t have too many of those, especially as we get older. But chamomile or peppermint would work, too. There, doesn’t that feel better?

The reason for writing this letter is to lay out what I see as your future in the Democratic party. Yes, I know you really, really, REALLY want to be President of the United States. You have made that abundantly clear to all of us. But things are not quite working out the way you expected – the nomination was not wrapped up on Super Duper Tuesday and since then everything has not exactly gone your way. The other candidate is winning in states won, pledged delegates, and super delegates. These are the metrics that matter according to the Democratic party rules. No one knows this better than Harold Ickes, the senior advisor to your campaign who helped draft those rules. Under these rules, you will not be the nominee of the Democratic party in 2008. Sorry, but that’s the way it is – you can’t change the rules in the fourth quarter of a football game just because you think a different sent of rules would allow you to win. That isn’t the way the world works, either in sports or in politics.

Speaking of sports, let’s bring up another analogy based on athletic competition. I’m talking about Tonya Harding, the Portlander who had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal in women’s figure skating. By all accounts Tonya was a very good skater, doing dazzling triple and quadruple spins and jumps as part of her routine. But the judges kept giving Tonya 9.5’s and 9.7’s, while another skater named Nancy Kerrigan kept getting higher scores from the judges, particularly in the “artistic presentation” part of the program. The judges liked Nancy’s flowing, graceful style more than they did Tonya’s athletic tricks.

How does this sports story relate to your situation as a presidential candidate? It’s simple, really. If you view the panel of figure skating judges as analogous to primary voters, caucus goers and super delegates, then you can to see yourself in the role of Tonya Harding and Barack Obama as Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya Harding’s solution was to enlist a group of associates to go after Nancy Kerrigan with a tire iron, hoping to sideline the other skater via a severe knee injury. So far your solution has been to try to damage Barack Obama in any way you can think of — the so-called “kitchen sink” strategy. It isn’t working because it is not getting you the nomination. The “kneecapping” ploy did not work for Tonya Harding either

What do I suggest you do next?

Accept that you won’t get the gold medal of the presidential nomination this year – and maybe not at all. But at the same time you must realize that you have made the vision of a woman president more acceptable in American politics and have cleared a path for other women, perhaps even Chelsea one day.

Start showing up in the Senate more and start showing up on the campaign trail less.

Take the heartbreaking stories of the people you have talked with during this campaign and craft legislation to help them. Transform all those policy statements and position papers on your campaign website into concrete laws that will provide real solutions for America’s problems. Become President Barack Obama’s chief partner in the Senate and work to build a consensus with your colleagues to get legislation passed. There is so little difference between the policy positions espoused by Barack Obama and those you have advocated that neither of you would have to make many adjustments to make this alignment happen.

And finally, consider becoming the liberal Lioness of the Senate, the fierce protector of Americans who need a strong advocate on the Senate floor. Pick up the baton from Ted Kennedy and carry the legacy of Jack and Ted and Bobby forward. A president can only serve for eight years – a senator’s shelf life can extend for decades, as witnessed by your colleagues Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy. During this campaign you have learned how to roar in behalf of those who have been voiceless. Keep doing it on the floor of the U.S. Senate. We need you, they need you, America needs you.

Sincerely,

Bluebanshee

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