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May 17, 2008

It's time for Hillary to bow out


For the good of the blue-collar workers, the soccer moms, the Latinos and every other constituency she claims to support, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the presidential race.

With only five primaries left, Barack Obama has won the popular vote, the most states and even the most superdelegates, the one area where Hillary had an edge until recently. Even with her big victory in West Virginia on Tuesday, and even if she were to win all of the remaining primaries, analysts predict Obama would still accrue the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Prolonging the fight is pointless and potentially harmful. In addition to wasting valuable time that could be spent preparing for the real campaign, it could cause bitterness within the Democratic Party, raising the risk of diehard Hillary fans voting for John McCain out of spite. Even more damaging is the possibility that independents who supported Hillary would be more likely to turn to McCain. The longer Hillary waits to rally her supporters around Obama, the more difficult it may be to convince them.

Analysts say Hillary's best chance is to convince the Democratic National Committee to suspend or change the penalties imposed on Florida and Michigan, which broke party rules by holding primaries before Feb. 5 and, as punishment, had their delegates barred from voting at the nominating convention this summer. With those delegates reinstated, Hillary might have a chance to beat Obama. But at what price? Does she really want to win by persuading the leaders of her party to bend or break the rules? How would that make her more electable than McCain?

Some will argue that it shows she's tough, gritty and determined.

I think it just makes her look like a sore loser.

Obama has long been my ideal candidate for president. His energy, vision, integrity and experience as a community organizer are far more valuable to me than his opponents' accomplishments and experience in Washington.

I don't disagree with most of Hillary's positions on the issues _ the majority of them are very close to Obama's. And I have no problem with a woman president; I just don't think Hillary is the right woman.

Hillary may be smart, seasoned and strong, but she's also slippery. She may be sympathetic and caring, but she's also fickle. During her campaign against Obama, she's proven herself to be a true chameleon, the candidate who remakes herself at every turn, if there's a chance it will get her further. We've seen her cry on cue, speak in fake dialects and toss back whiskey shots. We've seen her exaggerate her foreign-policy experience and promise to lower gas prices just in time for our summer vacations.

Is this what we want in a leader? The stakes are higher than they've been in a long time. We're a nation waging an unpopular and costly war. Our economy is floundering, and, now that we are paying more than ever at the gas pump and at the grocery store, people are starting to notice and demand action. We've got a housing crisis, a food crisis, a health-care crisis, an energy crisis _ these are issues that affect every one of us every day.

Then there's the climate crisis, which is more complex and more threatening than all of the others put together.

Whether they are Republicans, Democrats or independents, most people seem to agree that things need to change.

To effect real and lasting change, we need a president who will look outside of the box to find solutions to our problems. We need a president who can work with lawmakers across party lines to get things done. We need a president who will stick to his or her principles and stand up to special-interest groups. We need a president who can restore our nation's credibility and work with leaders around the world to solve problems that we cannot tackle alone. Most of all, we need a president with the ability to inspire all of us to care and to act.

Barack Obama will be that president.

It's time for Hillary to exit the race with as much grace as she can muster and rally her fans around the only candidate with the potential to give us the change we so desperately need and want.

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Lisa Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Oneonta. She can be reached at lisamiller44@hotmail.com.