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Jon Robin Baitz Headshot

Not Until the Fat Lady Sings

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As an ardent Obama supporter, I am calling on the Senator from New York to stay in the race for as long as she can stand it. Longer even. I think the calls for her withdrawal are deeply troubling, and even hysterical. Anti-democratic even. This is how an election works. And even though this particular one seems to be poorly designed at best, we are in the midst of the process. Voting: A right, may I remind Mr. Leahy, et al -- for which people have fought hard and died.

Let me be clear: I believe that the Clinton campaign has been simply tragic. It is an object lesson in failed promise and panicked, unstable, virulent war-game tactics. It has been marked by shallowness of the first order, and by the relentlessly divisive behavior of a cynical staff. She is fatally compromised in her stature as a credible voice, even perhaps in the senate, and her husband, an ex-president of the United States, is in danger of squandering what is left of his tattered reputation. The utter absence of statesmanship from the Clintons actually is painful to watch. There are lies about being under fire, there are semi-secret conduits to Matt Drudge, there are methods worthy of the Nixon playbook, in terms of sheer cynical zero-sum brinksmanship. There is an endless contempt for Obama's brilliant oratory, his ability to speak to adults like adults, which makes the Clintons suddenly seem like Bushesque boors, frankly. The sneering at his ability to connect reeks of school yard pique. It need not have been this way. There were early signs of a different kind of race, and they evaporated a long time ago. One day, we may live to see such a race. I doubt it.

However, I utterly disagree with those who cynically are calling for her to go quietly into the good night. I think that would be deadly for the fragile unity of the party, a party that should be on the brink of reclaiming control of the White House, and all that goes with it. A huge percentage of Clinton believers would be turned off. I think any Democrat alive knows what it is like to feel disenfranchised after the chaos of the last few elections.

And as any reader of the Huffington Post knows, she has fervent and patriotic supporters. (They will be writing angry letters even before they finish reading these words.) Supporters who still see more of what's good and great about her, who see her brilliance, her stamina, her staggering capacity for survival, as purely admirable, and even vital to whomever is going to be our next chief executive. I do not disagree with the need for a powerhouse in the Oval Office, I just think we need the purging energy of Barack Obama more. Senator Clinton has people who believe in her just as passionately as I believe in Senator Obama. Those supporters deserve to see their nominee fight for as long as she can, as long as she needs to. Well past the point of reasonable hope. That is America. It's in our sports, it's in our business, it's in our blood. And frankly, there is something admirable about the indefatigable Clinton appetite for power. I find it morally vacuous, not to mention shallow as hell when Bill remarks that if you can't take the hits, you shouldn't run. Really, Bill? Did you love your ongoing and disgusting hazing at the hands of right wing zealots so much that you think those tactics are a reasonable litmus test for the presidency, rather than say, oh, profound and inspirational moral force and an utterly unifying presence? Just asking. And as stomach turning as is the new college campus mini-trend of questioning of the Clinton's daughter about Ms. Lewinsky, well, so long as the Clintons are willing to put her out there to play that particular game of tennis, well then, who are we to stop 'em? Go. Go. Go. Go to town.

Maybe there's something purging about it for them. More than anything else, for purely selfish reasons, I do not, for one, think this race should end until William Jefferson Clinton is asked, and exhaustively and comprehensively answers each and every last question pertaining to the unconscionable pardoning of the crooked financier Marc Rich. Because, he too will be in the White House again, powerful, cynical, and hungry. Who knows what favors would be traded in exchange for God only knows what?

No, Hillary should remain in the race. As Frank Rich pointed out last Sunday, she knowingly fabricated the details of her landing in Bosnia, and she did so repeatedly, shamelessly, even after she was entirely revealed as a fabulator worthy of the hoariest backlot Hollywood schlockmeister. So -- Let it go on and on and on and on. The truth, as it did in the case of her trip to the "war zone", will come out. It always does. the last aria has not been sung, and the Valkyrie has yet to exhaust her lungs. And as the race continues to the bitterest end, I hope that Senator Clinton's many supporters are entirely satisfied that she did this to herself. That she exhausted her every chance.

It could have been different. As I have said before, character is fate, and that is what we are witnessing, as her campaign falters. Let it go on until all hope is exhausted. Those of us who look at the Clintons and see the full dimensions of the failure of their promise to America will also feel some sense of loss when she withdraws. She shied away from greatness, so as to hold on to power. Character is fate.