Today is historic. The New York Times headline says it all.
Hillary Clinton became the first woman to capture the presidential nomination of one of the country’s major political parties on Monday night, according to an Associated Press survey of Democratic superdelegates, securing enough of them to overcome a bruising challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders and turn to a brutal five-month campaign against Donald J. Trump.
Almost eight years after she ended her campaign against Barack Obama before a crowd with many teary women and girls, Mrs. Clinton signaled the news to a jubilant crowd at a campaign stop in Long Beach, Calif.
“I got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” she said. “We have six elections tomorrow, and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”
It would have been nice if the Sanders campaign had acknowledged the historic nature of a woman finally being the presumptive presidential nominee of a major party.
A spokesperson could have said something like, "We congratulate Ms. Clinton on gaining enough delegates to be the apparent nominee of the Democratic Party. We hope to change the minds of some superdelegates, but we know this will be very difficult to do. Still, we will try, since so many people have supported Senator Sanders. If we fail, rest assured that we will be strong supporters of Ms. Clinton in her race against Donald Trump."
But the quotes in the New York Times story were nothing like this. Instead, I read:
“It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgment, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” said Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesman, in a statement.
“Secretary Clinton does not have and will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to secure the nomination,” the statement continued.
“She will be dependent on superdelegates who do not vote until July 25 and who can change their minds between now and then.”
This reeks of sore loser -- especially since Sanders has railed against the ability of superdelegates to overturn the will of voters in the Democratic primaries. Who, it turns out, gave Clinton millions more votes and hundreds more pledged delegates than Sanders.
Yet now Sanders is signaling that he will try to overturn the will of the clear majority of primary voters by getting superdelegates to give him the presidential nomination that he wasn't able to win in a fair fight with Clinton.
I understand how tough it is to go through a bruising race for the Democratic presidential nomination and come up short. I also realize how passionate Sanders supporters are about their favored candidate.
Both Sanders and his supporters need to do the Golden Rule thing, though: imagine how they would feel if things had turned out differently, and today the Associated Press had declared Bernie Sanders to be the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic party -- having won enough pledged delegates and the support of enough superdelegates to put him over the top.
They would be freaking outraged if a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign had said something like:
"Sure, Sanders has gotten the majority of votes and delegates. But this doesn't matter, because we're going to do our best to convince superdelegates that Clinton is the more electable candidate. America isn't ready to elect a socialist as president, no matter how many Democratic voters think otherwise."
They'd be screaming about the unfairness of Democratic party insiders being able to overturn the will of the majority of primary voters.
Yet this is exactly what Sanders says he is intending to do.
Along with most other supporters of Hillary Clinton, I have a lot of fondness and respect for Bernie Sanders. His positions aren't hugely different from Clinton's, but I like his unique passion and genuineness. Sanders has brought issues to the nation's attention that needed to be in the spotlight.
Kudos to him for that. I'm worried, though, that Sanders is going to fritter away much of that goodwill by engaging in a mean-spirited, fruitless battle to achieve through superdelegates what he couldn't achieve through the primary process.
If he spends the time between now and the Democratic convention trying to take the nomination away from Clinton that she has fairly won, this is going to make progressives like me want to shun Sanders -- because it irks when he is trying to do to Clinton what he wouldn't have wanted done to him, if he'd won the majority of primary votes and delegates.