Because Macbeth has done this, he is no longer a ‘retired’ elder statesman of the Democratic Party. Walter Mondale hasn’t been too active in party politics for a long time, so I would say that in decreasing rank order the Democratic ‘retired’ elder statespersons are Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and (thanks to Hart-Rudman) Gary Hart.
Well, the third elder statesman had this to say:
Breaking the Final Rule
It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.
By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.
As a veteran of red telephone ads and "where's the beef" cleverness, I am keenly aware that sharp elbows get thrown by those trailing in the fourth quarter (and sometimes even earlier). "Politics ain't beanbag," is the old slogan. But that does not mean that it must also be rule-or-ruin, me-first-and-only-me, my way or the highway. That is not politics. That is raw, unrestrained ambition for power that cannot accept the will of the voters.
Senator Obama is right to say the issue is judgment not years in Washington. If Mrs. Clinton loses the nomination, her failure will be traced to the date she voted to empower George W. Bush to invade Iraq. That is not the kind of judgment, or wisdom, required by the leader answering the phone in the night. For her now to claim that Senator Obama is not qualified to answer the crisis phone is the height of irony if not chutzpah, and calls into question whether her primary loyalty is to the Democratic party and the nation or to her own ambition.
I think it is time for a group of party elders other than Gary Hart to have a chat with Ms. Clinton, and to explain to her that if Gary Hart is willing to state this in public then it is really quite unlikely that superdelegates will make her the nominee.
These party elders might also want to let Ms. Clinton know what people are saying about her, which is that she is trying to help John McCain defeat 2008 nominee Barack Obama, so that she, Hillary Clinton, can be the Democratic nominee in 2012; and the elders may want to stress to her that it would be a terrible thing to have people think this of her, if it were not true.
One thing I really hate about all this is the discovery that there is a grain of truth to Clinton hatred, that the unkind picture of the Clinton's isn’t entirely a fabrication of wingnut loons and childish media personalities. There really is something wrong about Bill and Hillary Clinton, something wrong in a Shakespearean fashion; something noble that fails tragically, due to a key defect, in this case, as in Macbeth, a selfish lust for power.
(Al Gore is Hamlet, the indecisive son who is slain by his own indecision, just as he becomes ready to be a great king; and Michael Dukakis is Snoopy, from Shakespeare’s ‘Tragedy of a Boy Named Charlie Brown’.)