Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 01:26 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 01:26 | SYDNEY

The junior senator from New York, I mean Illinois


Michael Fullilove


10 June 2008 14:22

Most of the political chatter here in the past couple of days, including from me, has concerned Senator Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Everyone from the ill-starred Mark Penn down has put their view. Perhaps the commentator to get closest to the truth, though — for me anyhow — was Bob Kerrey, the university president, former senator from Nebraska and unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1992.

In the New York Times on Sunday, Kerrey made two interesting points. He noted that the primary reason Barack Obama prevailed was his remarkable political gifts: in fact, he commented that 'If Barack Obama had been born 10 years earlier and had been a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 1992, neither I nor Bill Clinton would have defeated him.' Furthermore, he argued that Hillary's biggest mistake, in retrospect, was this: 'She and President Clinton should have moved back to her home state after they left the White House. By doing so, she would have been elected the junior senator from Illinois in 2004, thereby reducing the chances that Mr. Obama would have been in a position to run against her.'

Kerrey was a prominent supporter of Senator Clinton, and I think that in this analysis he's gone a little easy on her. Given the enormous headstart Clinton had on Obama, and the narrowness of the final margin, it's clear that with fewer missteps she would probably have made it over the line. But in the main, Kerrey is right: in Obama's victory over Clinton, his strengths were more important than her weaknesses.