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Words I Agree With

From Ross Douthat:

I think that once a few months have gone by, at least some of outrage that Hillary Clinton has generated among liberal pundits by campaigning to the bitter end in a race that she ended up losing by just over a hundred pledged delegates and roughly half a percent of the popular vote will seem, in hindsight, faintly hysterical.

It's true that Clinton's speech on Tuesday night was ungracious and off-putting, and that if she'd stayed in the race for longer than this week, outrage would have been merited. It's also true that a few of the lines of attack she used (in particular when she suggested that John McCain, but not Barack Obama, was qualified to be commander-in-chief) crossed the line in terms of what's acceptable in a Democratic primary. And of course the campaign had a number of other annoying features (shameless spin, populist pandering, belittling various states and demographic groups, Michigan/Florida strategy, Bill's bizarre behavior, and so on). For all these reasons I found the Clinton campaign to be a disappointment.

But, come on: The race was incredibly close, and the ultimate outcome was genuinely up in the air until Obama's strong showing in North Carolina and Indiana put to rest any lingering concerns superdelegates might have had. It was entirely reasonable for Clinton to stay in until Obama formally reached the threshold number of delegates required for the nomination. If party leaders--that is, superdelegates--had a problem with that, they could have fixed it by endorsing Obama earlier. That they didn't suggests to me that they were a bit more level-headed in assessing the impact of the ongoing race than sky-is-falling pundits were.

--Josh Patashnik