Victory belonged to Senator Barack Obama (left) last night. As he has done throughout this race, he projected confidence and calmness in his triumph. He is the first African American to head the ticket of a major political party. Son of a white American woman and a black Kenyan, Obama has preached the most compelling message of unity of any Democratic candidate since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and -- in the process -- he has repeatedly challenged the dominant race relations paradigm. Standing before a cheering crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota, Obama said, "Tonight we mark the end of one historic journey with the beginning of another -- a journey that will bring a new and better day to America."
Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, entered the race at the beginning of 2007. At that time, most observers were betting that Senator Hillary Clinton would emerge the Democratic candidate for president. For the next year and a half, Obama and Clinton crisscrossed the nation, rallying supporters, debating each other on over 20 occasions and drawing 35 million backers out to the polls. They both stumbled -- Clinton's Bosnia boner, Obama's endless headaches with the outspoken Reverend Jeremiah Wright. And there were moments on the campaign trail when Obama looked discouraged, morose and just plain tired, like he just wanted to crawl into bed and forget the whole thing.
But Obama, the third African American to serve in the United States Senate since Reconstruction, refused to surrender. And he showed remarkable resilience. Last night, in St. Paul, his message resonated with the audience. "This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past."
And what about Hillary Clinton? Will Clinton and Obama form a "dream team" (a term that dates back decades that means having equally strong presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the ticket)? Will Hillary take the VP slot? Last night would have been the perfect moment for her to step out of the race, yet she still refuses to budge. Rumors aplenty have been circulating. The Associated Press wrongly announced the other day that she was ready to concede. "And I hereby announce," she said, "I'm hanging around a little longer." She certainly didn't sound like she was ready to give up. The closest Clinton came to hinting that she might end her campaign was when she told her backers, "In the coming days, I'll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way." A headline in the Globe and Mail (Toronto) said it best, "The Cost of Clinton's Narcissism." Unless Clinton changes her course, the toll may turn out to be awfully high.
It appears that Clinton wants to take this battle to the Democratic National Convention August 25-28 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. Such a move would only weaken Obama and strengthen Republican candidate Senator John McCain. At long last, Senator Clinton should take a long, hard look at what is at stake and ask herself if that is, indeed what she really wants. Because whoever the winner turns out to be in such a bitter contest, theirs will be a Phyrric Victory. And America simply cannot afford four more years of reactionary and destructive Bushite Republican policies.