Last night at the pub someone asked me what I thought Hillary was doing. Oddly enough, I've never actually seriously considered the question - mostly just thought that the theories I keep hearing (like that she wants to be McCain's runningmate!) don't sound right to me. And sure, I do think she's hanging in there just in case something does happen to change the terrain, no matter how slim the chance is, but it occurred to me at that moment that it's more than that. "I think she's running all the bases," I said. "She's the first woman in history to win a state primary, and she's won a lot more. She's running pretty close to the front-runner. It's a major historic moment." And the more I think about it, the more I think it has to be part of what's driving her. There's a bit of climbing the mountain because it's there, and wanting to be able to stand up in the end and say something like, "Never let it be said that a woman can't go the distance." It doesn't matter if someone else breaks the tape, just as long as she finishes the race. (And think how she'd feel if something did happen before Denver to tank Obama and she hadn't.) I've been unhappy with a lot of things about Hillary, but there's a part of me that kind of admires that. Because she wouldn't just be doing that for herself - she's doing it for every little girl who was ever told she can't.
This is the tragedy of this beautiful historic moment — there is so much at stake in the eyes of all American women and all American people of color. Hillary is not tearing the party apart; what she's doing is running a close race with tenacity (and occasional bad judgment) against a formidable opponent.
What's tearing the party apart is this country's history of sexism and racism. And the irony is that Democrats, more often than not, are the good guys in the struggles against both of these blights on our nation, a claim the Republican party cannot make. This election is about much more than these two remarkable and historic individuals. It's about the restoration of American values to our people and our government and our reputation around the globe — values and a reputation that have been hijacked not by bin Laden but by Bush-Cheney.
That's why we Democrats will unify behind our nominee no matter who he or she turns out to be. Meanwhile, Hillary should press on. This is no time for her to become a shrinking violet "for the good of the party." She's thinking much bigger than that.