Oops!

I've been busy again. Funny how this country can wrap its pretty little arms around you and get you in a whirl. I haven't updated since before the election. Sorry about that. If it isn't one thing, it's another. The economy that GB left in a shambles, the recovery that still might happen if we all cross our fingers and wish real hard, the bankruptcy of 2 out of the big 3 car companies, the impossibility of passing a workable health reform, two wars, and now this flu that it looks like we incubated for Mexico. Most nights, I'm beat.

But tonight...Tonight was beautiful. And my mind is racing. And I can't quite turn in. I've got a few more proposals to read. Just a few. Maybe another hour, then I'll call it a day.

Okay. See. Here's the thing

Running for president is hard work. It got a little hairy there, and I was catching the Zs whenever and wherever I could. Of course I fell behind on the blogging: I was struggling to keep up with the baby-kissing, hand-shaking, interviewing, strategizing, debating, speechifying, traveling, and cold-calling. Something had to give, and you know what was first on the chopping block.

Well, now I have a little bit of a breather. Sure, putting together a transition team is hard work too, but not as hard, because, see, you can delegate. Rahm, baby, go bust some balls and get things moving on our transition. Rahm, my man, go find some genius economists to put together a solid plan to stabilize and stimulate the economy. Rahm, no you can't stab your underlings when they disappoint you. Rahmbo, don't be an ass. Rahmbo, get off my lawn.

I'm loving it.

I think I'm going to enjoy being president. Even if, as a wise fool once said, it's hard work, and hard work, and hard work. I like hard work. It keeps me honest.

Now I just have to learn how to mispronounce nuclear. Noo-kew-lar. Noo-kew-lar. Nuuuu-kuuuu-laar.

I think I've got it.

Elizabeth Edwards Now Onboard...

I'll be working with her to perfect my healthcare proposal and ready it to roll out in the first 100 days of my presidency. Why? Because she's just that amazing. And because she raised some valid criticism of my healthcare proposal. And because the Edwards family still has a lot to contribute to the national debate.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Endorsements

The argument that night was about support, because it is almost always about support, because we can't exhaust the momentum of If you supported me, then, and You can't have my support, because. The two of us were sitting across a coffee table in a friend's house, drinking water. There was an ice bowl on the table. The conversation began when I, sitting down to give the age-old left-right yank to my tie, said, in fatigue, knot loosening, "At last."

My former opponent spooned ice to her glass and wondered, "Is that an accusation?"

" 'Accusation?' Of what?"

"Are you saying I should have suspended my campaign earlier?"

"Are you going to suspend your campaign?"

"That depends."

"On?"

"Isn't Diane's home lovely?"

"Is that what you want to talk about?"

Behind the office door, our assistants bumped something, and there was a crash. We looked at each other. I didn't say anything. I was waiting. This was her move.

"Do you have an offer for me?" she asked.

I didn't raise my eyebrows. I didn't want to be coy. She was just that hard to read. "With regards to?"

"Lets start with my debts. That's a good place to start."

"We could start there. There are other places, but we could start there."

"Where do you want to start?"

"Are you still waiting for the remote and horrible possibility of my assassination, or are you out of the race?"

"As I said. As I have said too many times now, with regards to the first part, I misspoke. And the second part depends."

"On whether I help you with your debt."

"Among other things."

"I'd really like to talk about me being assassinated, and you waiting in the wings. I'd like to have that conversation."

"Look. Drop it. That's not what I meant."

"You haven't had that conversation, not even with your closest friends?"

"Look. Sure. When you're strategizing, some stupid things get tossed out. Like how the two of us are really so closely matched, and if something happened to one of us--excuse me for saying this--but if something happened to one of us tomorrow, I think the other one, the other person, would grieve for a while, the whole party would grieve, you know, but then the surviving party would go out and run again. All of this, all of this will you support me that we're talking about, it would be just a memory. Maybe not even a memory. Because politics, like life, it--am I wrong? Am I way off base? Because I want you to set me straight if you think I'm wrong. I want to know. I mean, I don't know any more than anyone else, and I'm the first to admit it, but I think we should consider this."

"Hillary, for God's sake." I shake my head. What do I say to this? What do I even say? I can't afford to walk out. The party can't afford me walking out. And maybe she really is that clueless. Maybe she really didn't mean anything by it. The race gets to you. The pressure drives you to think about ends, and count probabilities, and ignore means; means are for little people. Just make it happen. And beyond that, you just get tired. You slip. You say stupid things. So... "Let's try to have this conversation without killing me off, okay?"

She flushes. "I didn't mean. I never meant."

I cut her off. "You beat me up, Senator Clinton. You played as dirty as you could, all but dragged me around the living room by the ankles, and now you're telling me you love me, 'I love you, I love you, you bastard,' but you aren't done dragging me around the room, and my head is getting knocked around. I don't know how to take you. I don't know where you stand. I don't know who you are inside. You all but predicted my death. Now you want to make up. But I can't make you any offers until I have a clear grasp on who I'm offering whatever I'm offering to. Whom. To whom I'm offering. Something like that. So tell me. What do you really want? And what are you willing to give?"

She looked at me levelly. "Can we put the supposed and non-existant call for your assassination behind us?"

"I would like that. I would like that a lot."

"All right then."

"All right. So tell me what you want for your endorsement, Hillary."

"My debt retired. The vice presidency. A spot at the DNC. Your first-born child..."

I just look at her. She doesn't wilt; she is too strong to wilt. She changes tack.

"The debt will be acceptable, but without an offer for the vice presidency..."

"It's not going to happen, Senator. You have too much baggage. Your husband has too much baggage. And I don't like back-seat drivers."

"...I will have to contest the nomination at the convention."

"And of course I would wish you the best of luck with that."

"I could support you, Barack. I could really support you."

"Then please do."

"The debt?"

"I can't contribute to that directly, of course, but I would be willing to urge my supporters to help you with it provided that you withdraw, endorse me, give up the idea of the vice presidency, and pledge not to interfere with my campaign further."

"You're asking a lot."

"Not really. You're not going to win, so withdrawing or suspending are only reasonable; I'm not going to offer you the vice presidency, so giving up the idea that I will is only reasonable; and further interference with my campaign or suggestions that your loss was illegitimate will only reduce your standing in the party. These are common-sense proposals for the end of a primary campaign. All I'm asking is that you be reasonable."

"And in return, you, what, provide a tiny little link on the bottom of your website directing your supporters to help me out?"

"We could make it a full-sized banner on the home page."

"That's workable."

"You would, of course, have to retract the statements claiming that your wins in Michigan and Florida, contests for which your name shouldn't even have been on the ballot, were in any way legitimate, or that the DNC solution is in any way illegitimate."

"Oh, shove it, Barack."

"All right." I stood up. "It has, as always, been a pleasure talking to you."

"God damn it. Sit down. All right. All right. I could, maybe issue a retraction as long as I don't explicitly call it a retraction or explicitly take back anything I've said."

"What's left, then?"

"I could contradict myself. I can do that."

I tried not to laugh. I believe I succeeded. "Yes. You could do that. That would be acceptable."

"Do we have a deal, then?"

"I think we do. Your support during the general, and your contradiction of your earlier statements regarding Florida and Michigan, both in return for my supporters' help retiring your debt. Do you agree?"

"Yes, I do."

"You'll support me, then?"

"Of course, Barack. I've always supported you. You know that. Our policies are so close as to be indistinguishable. There's never been any reason we couldn't get along."

"Of course not. Well then, shall we let the dream team back into the room?"

"And thank Diane for the use of her lovely home."

"As you say."

-

With apologies to Elizabeth Tallent and Get It Back for Me; and Raymond Carver and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Finally, Clinton Concedes

I woke up in the middle of the night, Tuesday.  Nerves.  I'm usually pretty level-headed, but Senator Clinton's unwillingness to concede the nomination or suspend her campaign had me on edge.  I ripped out a long and ornery post in which I dismissed the common theory that she was trying to retire her debts (the woman is loaded, after all); and dismissed as well the even more common theory that she was angling for a VP nod.  She has too much ego to play second fiddle.  And on and on.  You may not have noticed, but I can be fairly long-winded when I get going.  And Clinton really had me going Tuesday night.  I spent an hour or so that I couldn't afford ripping her to shreds on the word processor, and then I deleted it, because, frankly, it was petty.  Tantrums are for three-year olds and the multiple scions of le Grande Dynasty Clintone-Bushe.

Good thing I deleted it, because the good senator finally threw in the towel Wednesday afternoon.  She didn't bother telling me in advance, but I wasn't surprised: it was just another snub from the would-be dynastic successor, and par for course from any member of le Grande Dynasty Clintone-Bushe.  With half the party supporting me, and half the remainder pushing her to come together and sing Kumbaya, she finally bowed to the inevitability of people-powered post-DLC politicking. 

Senator Clinton ran an impressive campaign, and I have no doubt she will be an intrepid and  dedicated compatriot as we work to broaden the Democratic majority in the house and create one in the senate.  She's a bulldog of a campaigner, and I look forward to having her on my side for once.  While we do not agree on all facets of our policy proposals, we do agree on the necessity of a large majority going forward.  

Because here's the thing, folks: I pulled my punches against Senator Clinton specifically to leave the door open for future cooperation, but I'm not going to be half as gentle with Senator McCain.  By October, John McCain will desperately wish he let Mike Huckabee have the honor of serving as the Democratic speed bag.

It's going to be an amazing summer. 

Testing the waters

Finally, a few moments to myself to work on my new blog.  Not that I don't love you all, and adore your children, but I'm not superhuman, and sometimes I need to put my feet up and collect my thoughts.  Thus the blog. 

Make History Tonight.  Now that Senator Clinton has, to all intents and purposes, lost the nomination, it's time to start raising money for the general election.  McCain will be a push-over compared to the Clintons, but the Republican noise machine won't be, and this is a historic race in more ways than one.  Firstly, I don't intend to lose.  Secondly, I'm going to stretch my coat-tails farther than any Democratic presidential candidate ever has before.  Thirdly--there is no thirdly.  If you think the color of my skin is more important than points one and two, you're living in the past.  If you think the fact that I am in large part running against, or despite, the right wing of the Democratic party is in any way divorced from points one and two, you are, I'm saddened to say, sorely mistaken.

Who knows when I'll have time to post again.   I'll try to make it soon, but running a nation-wide campaign is not a trivial undertaking.