President, Center for the Advancement of Women
What if, throughout her campaign for the party’s nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton had made speeches like the one she gave last night at the Democratic National Convention? It’s possible that she’d be the candidate accepting the party’s nomination tomorrow at Invesco Field. What type of presidency would she have led, had she become the first woman president of the United States? We’ll have to leave that question unanswered, at least for now.
The expectations that were placed on Sen. Clinton to mend the great divide that emerged from the Democratic primaries were both unprecedented and unrealistic. Yet, she delivered beyond our imagination last night. She repeatedly endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. She covered all of the points the party could have wished for. She asked the delegates –and all Democrats watching at home– to re-assess the values and motivations that brought them to Denver and will now determine their chances for putting a Democrat in the White House.
In the same way she rose gracefully from the Lewinsky affair and from a defeated campaign to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, Sen. Clinton emerged last night as a polished diamond. She surfaced as an unalloyed leader out of the adversities and the unaddressed sexism endured during her campaign and, for that matter, during her entire political career. Her journey is emblematic of the way American women overcome the challenges posed by a society where full-equality is yet to be attained.
Sen. Clinton raised the bar to the “what if, and every decision the Obama campaign makes from now on will be measured against it. Regardless of whether she united the party last night, Sen. Obama will have to show voters how their lives will be better if they vote, in unity, for him. How he chooses to translate the rhetoric of change into the policy of change will be essential as he aims at locking the support of independents and die-hard Clinton supporters, especially the women in the 25 percent who now plan to support Sen. John McCain.
The ball is in Sen. Obama’s court.
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