"[I am] a proud supporter of Barack Obama!" and "No way. No how. No McCain!" were surely stellar moments in Hillary Rodham Clinton's Denver speech. She asked THE challenging question of her PUMAs and other fractious supporters:"Were you in this campaign just for me?" And she made it clear that "Hillary or else!" won't do when "Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance."
It was good. Real good. It was Hillary Clinton at her very best, calling for the unity we Democrats must have to win this election. Pols and pundits raved. She'd hit one right out of the ballpark.
I have admired this woman for years. I have loved her for her strength, her grace in the face of terrible personal pain. I've loved her fierce intelligence. I was beaming at the screen while she spoke at the Pepsi Center. But, at the end of the evening, I was left wanting something. The impossible something. I want that bell unrung and, if I could have written part of Hillary's speech, here's what she'd have said to us:
"You know, politics is a nasty business. In the midst of a heated campaign, we candidates say, or imply, things about one another -- even when we share the very same ideals -- that we later regret having said. I'm no different, and tonight I'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
Barack Obama is no sexist. At no time in this campaign did he denigrate women, nor did he imply that I, as a woman, was unfit to lead this country.
His record on women's reproductive rights is just as solid as mine.
I called him irresponsible. I called him naïve. I said he was all speeches and no solutions. I said he was not ready to lead, that he lacked the 'experience' to be our commander-in-chief. I approved the 3:00 a.m. ad to put the fear of God into any Democrat, Independent or disillusioned Republican who was seriously considering voting for Barack Obama. It was less than honest; it was a mistake made in the heat of a campaign I was losing. That mistake, along with comments I made to undercut his successful campaign during primary season, has played right into the hands of the GOP. They are using my words, my ads, against my party. Against my candidate. Against the change I know is best for my country.
I want to say this to all Democrats, to all Independent voters and those Republicans who recognize the danger of four more years of the Bush/McCain Doctrine:
I said what I felt I had to say to win. I did what I felt I had to do to win. That's politics and we all know it."
To John McCain and his minions:
If you insist upon using my words now, hoping to manipulate my 18 million supporters, then use the words my campaign adopted when I said I was open to having Barack Obama as my choice for vice president. We said, quite clearly, that while we believed he was not ready for the White House during primary season, that he would be ready by August to serve as vice president, to ascend to the Oval Office in the event it became necessary. And that means that I knew then what I know now: Barack Obama is ready to lead this nation -- I would not be here tonight, endorsing his candidacy with all my heart, if I believed otherwise.
Senator McCain, I will not sit idly by and allow you to exploit this woman for your own negative campaigning. I'm a fighter. I will fight for what I know to be right -- and that means you will have me to deal with from now until election day.
And, finally, to my 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Suit':
It's tough being a woman in a world still weighted toward the best interests of men. There is that glass ceiling holding us down. We all know it, and we all know we have to finish the job of breaking through those 18 million cracks we made in it.
But it is a disservice to you, to myself, to all women, to believe that the reason I did not win the Democratic nomination is sexism or that the DNC conspired to rob the first woman presidential candidate of her rightful victory.
We all know, when we're honest, that my staff and I made serious financial and tactical errors during my campaign. Those mistakes cost us the nomination. We cannot allow our personal feelings of gender loyalty or outrage to supersede what we all know to the fundamental truth of this election: John McCain is every woman's worst nightmare. He is harmful to women and other living things. Voting for him makes a mockery of everything you and I have fought for.
Not voting is every bit as bad. Such an abdication is petulant and harmful to our country, our families, our future, ourselves. The time has come to rise above petty politics and our personal ambitions or agendas. There is too much at stake.
The choice has never been so clear. It is not a choice between bad or worse. It is a choice between right and wrong.
Barack Obama is the right choice. I know it and you know it."
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