Every major newspaper and every TV news network is replete with “it’s over” and “she’s keeping up a good front but looking for options” stories about Hillary Clinton’s impending exit. There is something both admirable and pathetic about the entire spectacle. Campaign advisers with no involvement in the current race might be ruing the “campaign will never die” Clinton mantra for another reason: candidates, over the advice of supporters and well-wishers telling them to pack it in, will be saying for years to come “But Hillary didn’t quit.” She’s raised the bar for the financial distress and personal embarrassment required to eject losing candidates from the race. (Mitt Romney’s exit seems downright premature by comparison.)
But like so many things associated with Clinton, many of the lessons will be attributed to gender. Gail Collins writes:
Privately, she says she does not intend to go home and tell Chelsea that she’s a quitter, and this is a side of her that even many Clinton-haters have really come to appreciate. After this campaign, nobody in America can ever seriously argue that women aren’t capable of being in armed combat. She is strong. She is invincible. Or, at minimum, extremely hard to discourage.
Well, yes: women will be taken seriously as Presidential candidates–if they are serious candidates. But if we learned anything about Clinton during the campaign it is that, for better or worse, there is no one quite like her. (Future female candidates couldn’t possibly duplicate her experience.) Her exit, or lack of it, proves that once again.