Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The American Left: What Progressives Can Learn from Obama

[Note: This is a very thought provoking analysis of Sen. Obama's approach to politics and how, as progressive activists, we can learn from it. As a John Edwards supporter during the first year of this marathon campaign, I was initially skeptical of Obama's approach and found him to be insufficiently confrontational. Over the past few months, however, I have gradually been persuaded that Obama's approach offers something refreshing and useful for progressives and radicals, those of us to the left of Obama politically. As always, we'd love to hear your comments as well. Keep Hope Alive, Paul B]

Ken Brociner
In These Times
June 24, 2008

One of the trademarks of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has been his commitment to a new style of politics. Last year, in answering a question about negative campaigning and ad hominem attacks on opponents, he said: “My preference going forward is that we have to be careful not to slip into playing the game as it is customarily played.”

Obviously Obama’s pledge to take the high road is nothing new or original. In fact, it has become standard fare – even if only a small percentage of politicians come close to making good on these promises.

Yet despite the intensity of his drawn-out battle with Hillary Clinton and his current showdown with John McCain, the consensus view among longtime politicos is that Obama has, for the most part, run an unusually fair-minded and positive campaign.

Obama’s commitment to a different brand of politics represents more than a mere preference for taking the high road in the rough-and-tumble world of political combat. The Illinois senator has, in fact, developed what amounts to an alternative philosophical outlook toward politics. And it is a perspective that, I believe, too many progressives have been ignoring at their own peril.

One of the most striking features of Obama’s approach has been his near refusal to attack the motives of his political opponents. As he made clear in The Audacity of Hope, Obama doesn’t just believe this policy to be tactically sound; he also feels that most of his opponents are truly well-intentioned.

“Even when talking to those colleagues [in the Senate] with whom I most deeply disagreed,” he wrote, “I was usually struck by their basic sincerity – their desire to get things right and leave the country better and stronger; their desire to represent their constituents and their values as faithfully as circumstances would allow.”

Obama bemoans the fact that politics has become ” …a contest not just between competing policy visions, but between good and evil… In this Manichean struggle, compromise came to look like weakness, to be punished or purged.”

Of course, this kind of talk has raised some legitimate concerns within progressive circles. At what point, some wonder, might Obama’s attitude become overly bipartisan or too prone towards compromise? Clearly, should he be elected president, progressives will need to closely monitor these potential pitfalls.

But rather than cynically dismiss Obama’s statements as being na├»ve or just another form of political gamesmanship, progressives ought to seriously ponder what he is saying.

Compare Obama’s approach with the predominant tone and rhetorical style of much of the progressive media. Glance at the most popular progressive websites, magazines and blogs on any given day and notice how we consistently characterize those with whom we disagree – be they liberal Democrats who lack “courage,” Democratic Leadership Council-types who we routinely refer to as being, in effect, “corporate lackeys,” or neocons who we describe as “warmongers.”

Instead of vigorously critiquing ideologies, policies, priorities and values that we disagree with, we routinely assign consciously malevolent motives to our political adversaries. It’s as if we progressives cannot even fathom the possibility that politically engaged people who have sharply different views than ours might also sincerely believe they are working to make the world a better place.

The most prominent recent example of this tendency was the full-page ad that MoveOn placed in the New York Times last fall, in which General David Petraeus, then commanding general of the multinational forces in Iraq, was mockingly referred to as “General Betray US.”

Whatever MoveOn’s intent, the extraordinarily unfortunate choice of the word “betray” was widely – and understandably – interpreted as accusing Petraeus of consciously and deliberately “betraying” the United States.

Not only did the ad put a serious dent in MoveOn’s image, it backfired by undermining congressional efforts to set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

While the “Betray US” ad was an extreme example, the sad reality is that the progressive media is now rife with writers who seem to demonize practically anyone who dares to see things differently than they do.

These days, no one fits this description better than David Sirota.

In the world according to Sirota, there is no such thing as having an honest difference of opinion. For instance, instead of allowing for the fact that Barack Obama might actually believe what he has been saying in regard to his economic policies, Sirota proclaimed in a column earlier this year that “though Obama is certainly less industry-owned than Clinton,” he nonetheless does accept “hush money” from Wall Street that is “contingent on candidates silencing their populist rhetoric.”

As for Clinton’s true motives, Sirota had this to say earlier this month, in a Campaign For America’s Future blog post: “Clintonism [is] a brand of politics that is about trying to appease Big Money while pretending to serve ordinary people.”

Unfortunately Sirota’s dogmatic style is more the rule than the exception within many media oulets on the left. In fact, if you only read or tuned into progressive media, you would likely come away believing the world is made up of good guys wearing white hats and bad guys wearing black hats who delight in bringing misery and oppression to the entire world.

Although I have strongly identified with the progressive movement’s political agenda throughout my nearly forty years of activism, I am often downright embarrassed by how one-dimensional and superficial our “analysis” of the world is. We progressives like to think of ourselves as “truth tellers” committed to depicting the world as it really is. Yet we too often present a cartoonish version of reality, rather than an accurate account of what is happening and – more to the point – why it is happening.

In September 2005, Obama issued a direct appeal to progressives urging a more fair-minded approach to political criticism and analysis. He sent an essay to Daily Kos titled “Tone, Truth and the Democratic Party,” in which he voiced frustration with the over-the-top criticism and attacks many progressives were directing toward those Democrats who, at times, deviated from the standard progressive position on one issue or another.

In his essay, Obama wrote: “… I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.”

We need not be uncritical admirers of Barack Obama to realize that his desire to transcend old political habits has profound meaning not only for American politics as a whole, but for progressives who are committed to fundamentally changing our country’s policies and priorities.

Ken Brociner's essays and book reviews have appeared in Dissent, In These Times and Israel Horizons. He also has a biweekly column in the Somerville (Mass.) Journal.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Waiting For Obama: The First Global Election

By Derek Shearer / June 18, 2008

Nothing could be more accurate today than the political chant from Chicago in 1968: "The Whole World is Watching." The level of interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential contest is incredibly high, greater than at any time in post-Cold War history. This is due to the rapid decline of America's reputation abroad during the Bush administration and to the hope that Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama will restore America's image not with public relations, but with new internationalist policies.

In the past month, I have seen this phenomenon first hand. I have traveled to Syria, Peru and Bolivia as a speaker in the State Department's public diplomacy program. In each country, I heard from US embassy staff about how a record number of foreign journalists have requested travel to the US to cover the elections. I met with some of these reporters during my trips. I also encountered the same interest among students who attended my university lectures -- and of course, business and government leaders wanted to know in detail what an Obama presidency might mean.

In Syria, for example, students at the elite public policy school at Damascus University were fascinated to learn that Obama's middle name is Hussein, and that his mother's second husband was a Muslim who took young Barack to live for years in Indonesia. These young Syrians seemed amazed that the United States which many in the region see as the Great Satan would actually nominate such a person to be president -- and the thought that he might be the next president of the US was almost beyond belief. Of course, I got the not unexpected questions about whether Obama too would would be under the thumb of the Jewish lobby -- but overall, a sense of hope and optimism seemed to prevail. Almost every Syrian whom I met felt that Obama might bring a new beginning to US-Syrian relations, and perhaps usher in a genuine and wider Middle East peace.

In Peru and Bolivia, students not surprisingly were focused on their own region. They wanted to know if Obama would pay greater attention to Latin America -- perhaps rekindling the spirit of JFK and the Alliance for Progress. Government officials asked tougher questions about Obama and the Democratic Party's commitment to the global trading system, and whether US special interests might force Obama to close US markets to foreign goods. They also wanted to know what a President Obama might do about about drugs in Latin America, and about the danger that some states, perhaps even Bolivia, might come to be dominated by narco politics and anti-democratic groups. Of course, they were curious about Obama's offer to meet with Venezuela's populist leader Hugo Chavez, and about how US-Cuban relations might change under Obama.

As a Democrat and former US ambassador, I made it clear that I did not speak for the Obama campaign (I supported Senator Clinton in the primary), but that I knew and respected him, that he had studied at Occidental College where I hold a chair in diplomacy, and that many of my friends serve on his foreign policy team. I told audiences that my students at Occidental, inspired by Obama's success, recently completed a memo for the next president entitled Rebranding America (available online at: www.oxyworldwide. com) and that copies were sent to Obama and his team, as well as to McCain and his. Many students seemed intrigued about how they could "rebrand" their own nations.In every talk and interview abroad, I made these basic points:

* There are significant differences between Senator McCain and Senator Obama on the two most important issues of the campaign: the economy and the war in Iraq. In the past two decades, US foreign policy has become highly partisan and emotionally charged -- politics no longer stops at the water's edge as it largely did during the Cold War -- and it will matter a great deal, depending on which candidate is elected. If Obama becomes president, he will first focus on responsibly removing American troops from Iraq -- one of his key campaign promises and a signature commitment of his political career. He will also have to manage and ameliorate the economic distress of the American people. On both these key issues, Obama and McCain are light years apart.

* The world beyond Iraq will not (and cannot) be ignored. Obama will be able to multi-task because he will have a reservoir of talent on call. All of his foreign policy advisors -- notably Anthony Lake, Susan Rice, and Greg Craig -- are experienced hands from the Bill Clinton administration. As I told foreign audiences and journalists, one of the secrets of the campaign is that all of Obama's people are Clinton people -- and this is a good thing. Under the leadership of Tony Lake, the Obama campaign has a assembled a top notch group of professionals. On the Middle East, there are pros such as Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and Robert Malley, among others, to call on. They are among our most experienced negotiators.

On Latin America, there are not only the usual advisors from the Council on Foreign Relations, but also younger scholars such as Russell Crandall from Davidson College, a leading expert on drug wars in the region. As President, Obama would have an impressive stable of very senior officials whose services he can engage. For Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense, think Senators Biden, Kerry, Dodd or Mitchell, and former General Wesley Clark. Think former President Bill Clinton as special envoy to the Middle East (perhaps in tandem with former British PM Tony Blair). Think Nobel Prize winner Al Gore as special envoy to renewed global warming talks. Think former Senator Sam Nunn as special emissary to Putin's Russia, or former Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon as special emissary to Iran. And still on the bench to be deployed would be Richard Holbrooke, Madeleine Albright, and Strobe Talbott. The point is that President Obama would have a wealth of talented and experienced Americans at his disposal -- an arsenal of "smart power", the envy of any nation and any leader.

* Globalization is not Americanization -- but it does require American leadership to work more fairly and effectively. Democrats are not economic nationalists or isolationists -- but they understand that a sustainable globalization requires activist government inside each nation, as well as greater international cooperation. In my lectures at foreign business schools, I started off by explaining the good news and the bad news. The good news is that contrary to the beliefs of some anti-American voices, there is no American Ruling Class Committee in charge of pushing globalization on an unwilling world. The bad news, of course, is that no one is in charge of the global economy. We still live inside national borders, but the post-Cold War economy is global and is not constrained by international borders, nor are the environmental and social consequences.

This is the central political problem of our age. It is vital for the US to lead, but not dominate in making globalization more equitable and more environmentally friendly -- both within our borders and for the entire world. Senator Obama seems to understand this challenge, although his economic advisors are less diverse than I would expect. He has some talented younger economists such as Austan Goolsbee from the University of Chicago, and he has brought in the predictable Clinton pros like Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. He still needs to reach out to other international economists who combine progressive views with practical experience -- experts such as Sebastian Edwards at UCLA, Martin Carnoy at Stanford, Dani Rodik at Harvard. Manuel Pastor at USC, and Jamie Galbraith at Texas. I also tell foreign business students and foreign business leaders that it is not simply a matter of waiting for Obama to come to power. They can start working for better economic and social policies in their own countries, and arguing for new regional initiatives in the Middle East and Latin America. If Obama comes to power, they will be ready with home grown initiatives to present to him and his team.

I have no idea if my public diplomacy -- I also spoke last year in Kazakhstan, Chile and New Zealand, and I go to Australia his fall -- is having much impact, but my message is always clear and simple: I come in peace and bring fraternal greetings from progressive Americans. Barack Obama seems to embody this message, and to carry with him in the upcoming presidential contest the hopes not only of Americans, but of citizens in almost every country of the world. It is a heavy responsibility, and not to be taken lightly. If Obama can prevail, and can govern with strength, compassion and political wisdom, then he might turn out to be the first truly global president.

The whole world will be watching.

Obama E-mail List Makes the Dems Salivate

Daniel Libit
Thu Jun 19, 5:19 AM ET

Five months before the November election, Democrats are beginning to fantasize about how they could use Barack Obama's massive e-mail list in the service of a Democratic administration.
By mere dint of its enormity, Obama's collection of e-mail addresses — a million and a half from donors, many more from other supporters — holds game-changing potential.

Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan says the campaign doesn't discuss the exact size of the candidate's universe of e-supporters. However, he says, one can understand the "potency of the community" by considering the donor list as well as the near-million people who have signed up on Obama's Facebook page and the 926,000 accounts registered (as of Tuesday afternoon) at my.barackobama. com.

Democratic technology strategist Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, said "the notion that Obama could harness his own special interest group in order to force legislative action is an entirely new paradigm on the American scene, driven by technology."

He compared the use of Candidate Obama's e-mail list in support of a President Obama's agenda to a "nuclear weapon," the power of which "just hasn't been quantified."

But there's no blueprint for how a president could wield such an easily contacted grass-roots following, so what Obama would do with his remains a mystery for now.

There's no shortage of ideas.

"The thing that has blown me away is how these same people [who have donated] have also done all this volunteering and helped with the get-out-the- vote effort. And if you get into a governing mode, it's unlimited how you could use this base," said Tom O'Donnell, a Democratic consultant who served as chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein says that if Obama's online moneymaking operation continues apace, it would free him in the White House from the endless procession of reelection campaign obligations, thereby allowing him greater time to spend pressing his agenda.
Scott Lilly, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said the list could be particularly effective in pressuring lawmakers in conservative strongholds.

"There are districts that are held by Republicans that Obama is going to have pretty substantial organizations in," said Lilly, "and those organizations can be used to build a network that can critique incumbent members of Congress and provide ways for candidates to remove those members and, in that way, make Republican members more cautious."

Lilly said that during the 2004 Democratic primaries, Howard Dean was able to develop some decent-sized online networks of Democrats in conservative districts, but they were ultimately untapped. He sees Obama as being able to create even larger pockets and, for the first time, deploy them.

Said Lilly: "If there's a network of even a few thousand people throughout a congressional district that are aware their member voted that way and go to the barbershop and the PTA and maybe write a letter to the local newspaper or whatever and say, 'This is disturbing to me,' that really starts to change the amount of latitude a member has to make those kinds of votes."
A number of well-positioned Democrats point to health care as a key issue for which Obama's list could make the difference. But for it to ultimately be effective, the list will have to be organized and managed effectively. And Democrats concede that communicating with supporters in nonelection years has never been the party's forte. Neither, for that matter, have its national organizing efforts in general.

Obama's online support universe has been pegged at anywhere from 4 million to 8 million, according to Patrick Ruffini, a Republican online consultant who blogs about politics and the Web.
"They solved the first challenge, which is: How do you get these people corralled on a list and activated?" Ruffini said of Obama's campaign. "The question is: What are the action items if he takes the presidency? Is it just to spam Congress, or is it something deeper than that? But it will definitely be a formidable list, no matter how you slice it."

If there are any precedents for Obama, they are much smaller in scope and almost entirely Republican. Barry Goldwater gave his list of several hundred thousand contributors to the Republican National Committee after he lost the 1964 election. Over the course of the next two decades, the RNC built it into a group of millions that became the lifeblood of the modern Republican Party.

George McGovern developed a larger list than Goldwater's when the South Dakota Democrat ran for the White House in 1972, but the Democratic National Committee didn't put much stock in the value of small contributors at the time and let it founder.

A GOP consultant who worked for the Bush-Cheney campaign said that those who would make use of Obama's list will first have to figure out who's on it — and why. Obama is such a phenomenon, the consultant said, that it's hard to know whether the people on his e-mail list are bound together by anything other than their support for him.

"In 2000, the answer was, 'I support George Bush because of tax cuts, education reform or his compassionate conservative agenda or faith-based initiative,' " the consultant said. Obama's list "could be very powerful," he added, but "it could also just be a mass of people."
Some Obama supporters concede as much.

"This isn't a group of people who are primarily motivated — drawing on my own sense of our members who are part of this same zeitgeist — to win Democratic races," said MoveOn.org Executive Director Eli Pariser. "They're in it for change on these issues. The needle you have to thread is keeping it true to that."

Steve Westly, who serves as Obama's California co-chairman and on the candidate's finance committee, said the trick to making the list work is to follow the lead of companies such as eBay, where he was employee No. 22.

When Westly went to work for the soon-to-be giant of the online auction world, the site featured just 400 different categories of stuff available for bidding. Rather than trying to think up all the other categories themselves, Westly and his 21 colleagues opened up the decision making process to eBay devotees.

"The key is: Are they smart enough to identify these people, to realize this is a skill set we need?" Westly said of the Obama campaign. "The bigger question — this is what Sen. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton missed and what the [John] McCain people can't even fathom — is: Are you willing to let go of some control?"

The Obama campaign says it knows it is walking down a two-way street.

"From the beginning," said Steve Hildebrand, Obama's national deputy campaign director, "Barack was hoping to launch a candidacy that would bring millions of new people into the political process, that would inspire them to stay active in politics so that, should he actually succeed in winning the presidency, he would have additional ability to govern with the backing of millions of activists from all 50 states who could help him pass the progressive agenda through Congress."

Bush's grass-roots operation was of a much more manageable size and, like the Clintons' "war room," was predicated on a top-down approach.

"This is different," said O'Donnell. "We've got all these people to go to the computer at home and feel part of this guy's agenda. It's something we haven't dealt with. The only constraint, in my opinion, is the creativity of people put in charge of managing this."

Copyright © 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Challenge and Milestone in Our History

Photo: Bill Fletcher and Danny Glover in Venezuela

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

So, I watched Senator Obama’s speech Tuesday night and thought to myself how, despite every reservation I have had about Senator Obama’s politics, I was moved by the moment. Deep inside me I had always expected that a conservative Black candidate could emerge at some point, but I thought that it was very unlikely that a liberal-to-progressive could, in the near future, emerge and win the nomination.

The color line has not been shattered. It has been further bent. It has been rendered more complex by the rise of a nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America who is of African descent. His emergence challenges the history of the USA, even if his politics are not on the Left. The fact that he was forced, through events, to articulate the clearest and most eloquent analysis on race in the USA by a mainstream politician, made this campaign particularly significant. What is even more significant is that Senator Obama is correct: this campaign is not actually about him, but it is about a very deep desire on the part of millions of people in the USA for change. How that “change” will be defined is not primarily a question for who gets elected in November. It is a question for those of us in the field who have contending visions for what the USA and the world should look like.

I sat in front of the TV transfixed, knowing that this was an historic moment, irrespective of whether Senator Obama wins or loses in November. I, for one, will continue to critically support him. This means that I do think that there is a VERY significant different between Senators Obama and McCain. This is not a tweedle-dee/tweedle-dumb juxtaposition, even given my differences with Senator Obama. Senator McCain wishes to continue the direction of George Bush and to advance the process of the consolidation of a neo-liberal authoritarian state. Senator Obama is looking for a politically liberal solution to the current crisis. I do not think that such a solution exists, but I do think that there is an opening for progressives to push for genuine alternative political and economic solutions to the crises afflicting the USA and the planet as a whole. This will inevitably mean challenging and pushing Senator Obama on matters such as foreign policy and healthcare. This is the essence of critical support; actively supporting his candidacy while at the same time not being shy concerning expressing our differences.

Yes, this was and is an historic moment. There is, however, little time to relish in this moment because it will soon pass. If we are not thinking both about building for an Obama victory, but more importantly, laying the foundation for stronger social movements and a mass political organization that can advance a progressive direction, we will have misunderstood our challenge and fallen prey to illusions. Taking nothing away from Senator Obama’s own brilliance, he stands today as the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party because of a groundswell of anger and hope that exists across the USA. It is up to progressives to do more than simply acknowledge this; we must help to gel it into a wave.

BlackCommentator.com Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of the just released book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

California Students and Barack Obama

A New Generation Takes the Torch: California Students Already at Work to Elect Barack Obama President

By Stephanie Chan
Communications Coordinator
Students for Barack Obama

California Students for Barack Obama (SFBO) chapters are actively organizing to continue the momentum of Senator Obama's campaign following the cinching of the Democratic nomination. This tremendous level of enthusiasm that surrounds Senator Obama reflects not only his strength as a candidate, but America's hunger for change. This is why so many people, young and old, have stepped forward to volunteer their time and energy with Senator Obama's campaign.

Since the summer of 2006, students supporting Senator Obama have amassed a network of thousands of college students to phone bank, canvass, and get-out-the-vote among the crucial 18-to-25 age group, which has proven more active than ever before. These young Obama supporters have spent countless hours as part of the largest grassroots political campaign in California's history and will not rest until Obama crosses threshold of the White House as the next President of the United States.

In addition to these traditional campaign strategies and tactics, California Students for Barack Obama have harnessed the power of Facebook, Myspace and popular online tools such as www.students.barackobama.com and my.barackobama.com organizing groups.

Students for Barack Obama was organized for students and by students, and was created before Senator Obama announced his candidacy. The campaigns commitment to the student vote has deepened and broadened since his announcement to run for President in February 2007.

Obama's position as the presumptive Democratic nominee has further inspired students to become advocates for fundamental changes in the direction of American politics. "We are looking forward to working with other student Democratic activists in the upcoming months," said Rick Relinger, California State Coordinator for Students for Barack Obama. "Senator Obama knows he can depend on young people to turn out for him in November. California's youth will be there for him every step of the way".

Students for Barack Obama is the official student outreach arm of the Obama for America campaign. For more information, contact Ian Magruder at imagruder@studentsforbarackobama.com

Posted on June 04, 2008

Hillary Now Turning Off Her Most Ardent Supporters

I Am Not a Bargaining Chip, I Am a Democrat

by Hillary Rosen
Huffington Post, June 4, 2008

Senator Clinton's speech last night was a justifiably proud recitation of her accomplishments over the course of this campaign, but it did not end right. She didn't do what she should have done. As hard and as painful as it might have been, she should have conceded, congratulated, endorsed and committed to Barack Obama. Therefore the next 48 hours are now as important to the future reputation of Hillary Clinton as the last year and a half have been.

I am disappointed. As a long time Hillary Clinton supporter and more importantly, an admirer, I am sad that this historic effort has ended with such a narrow loss for her. There will be the appropriate "if onlys" for a long time to come. If only the staff shakeup happened earlier; if only the planning in caucus states had more focus; if only Hillary had let loose with the authentic human and connecting voice she found in the last three months of the campaign. If only. If only. I have written many times on this site about the talents of Hillary Clinton and why I thought she'd make a great President.

After last night's final primary, she was only about pledged 100 delegates behind him. Ironic that after not wanting to make the decision for so long, it was in fact, the superdelegates who made the decision. But I guess they did so for another reason. It just isn't her time. It is his time. It's a new day that offers a freshness to our party that many have longed for. We felt the rush of new voices and a new energy in the Congressional sweep of 2006 and the sweep continues. It has been an organic shift. And a healthy one.

The life's work of Bill and Hillary Clinton in partnering with so many African Americans uniting our purpose and promoting our mutual issues is as responsible for Barack Obama's success as our first African American nominee as anyone. And yet, that joy is being denied for them by themselves. It is so sad.

So, I am also so very disappointed at how she has handled this last week. I know she is exhausted and she had pledged to finish the primaries and let every state vote before any final action. But by the time she got on that podium last night, she knew it was over and that she had lost. I am sure I was not alone in privately urging the campaign over the last two weeks to use the moment to take her due, pass the torch and cement her grace. She had an opportunity to soar and unite. She had a chance to surprise her party and the nation after the day-long denials about expecting any concession and send Obama off on the campaign trail of the general election with the best possible platform. I wrote before how she had a chance for her "Al Gore moment." And if she had done so, the whole country ALL would be talking today about how great she is and give her her due.

Instead she left her supporters empty, Obama's angry, and party leaders trashing her. She said she was stepping back to think about her options. She is waiting to figure out how she would "use" her 18 million voters.

But not my vote. I will enthusiastically support Barack Obama's campaign. Because I am not a bargaining chip. I am a Democrat.
Hilary Rosen is the Political Director and Washington Editor-at-Large for Huffingtonpost.com. She is also an active public speaker and an on-air commentator on MSNBC and CNN.