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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

The concession speech ranks as one of America politics most splendid moments. Usually, the eloquence, honesty and great poignancy expressed far outweighs any speech the candidate making the concession made during his or her campaign.

Of course, it's a speech that would be better made at the beginning of a campaign rather than the end.

Psychologically, it all comes from the fear we all have about exposing who we are, which paradoxically, is the very thing that makes a candidate viable in the first place. Sure it takes winks and nods to those who helped us get there, but the twinkle in the eye that the partisans saw when you began the climb to this point, is locked somewhere in limbo, while we go with the advise of those who know better. Note: Rent "The Candidate."

Great concession speeches smack of the "nothing to lose" attitude that drives every loser to rediscover the best in themselves and causes his supporters to wonder what took so long and ruminate over what might have been. Ironically, the "screw my handlers, I'm going to say what I want" that causes the ex-candidate to speak from the heart also causes many of those who did not cast their vote for the failed aspirant to have far-too-late-to-do-any-good second thoughts about the choice they made. Surrenders in Democratic presidential politics tend to be the highlights of the speech-making year.

Al Gore and John Kerry both gave great "stick a fork in me" speeches, but for the Democratic Party, and as we were all to find out, for the country, these November (or in Gore's case, December) concessions were made too late.

In the next few days (weeks? months?) Hillary Clinton has the opportunity to make her concession, not only her best, but the best ever. And it just may have to be for Barack Obama to win in November. Concession speeches are generally about pulling the team, or country, together to win at the next level. This year the divisions between Clinton and Obama, lumped on top of the first woman vs the first African-American presidential aspirants with a real possibility of winning, has made the November election a distant second in drama to the Democratic primary. Gender vs color, blue collar vs so-called-elite, experience vs change, not to mention, Wright vs wrong or right.

While over the next five months it will be up to Obama to make his case for representing every side of the equation. But, he won't stand a chance if Hillary doesn't first lay the groundwork for Obama to build on. Her reward will be great. Perhaps even greater than winning. Harvesting success out of adversity is how real winners deal with failure. They learn. They grow. They arrive at a better place than they ever could have had they not hit the bump(s) in the road. Ask Lincoln. Ask Edison. Ask Oprah -- if she's still willing to talk to her.

While they all did persevere -- something Hillary certainly doesn't need a lesson in -- they learned to reassess their failures and disappointments by adapting to the information they were accumulating. While Hillary may once again move into1600 Pennsylvania, bringing together all in the Democratic Party, including the newly registered, with a powerful, all-inclusive, concession speech, can be far more important and productive for her career. In the party, in the Senate, in the White House, and most important, for the country.

If she doesn't furnish this critical ingredient it might be near impossible for Obama to cook up a recipe for White House success.

Hillary Clinton no longer has anything to lose, but the country has much to gain, and her concession speech has the power to heal and honor her and her troops by leading the way to a Democratic victory in November.

Award-winning television writer and author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" (, Steve Young, is a former talk show host, writes ad finitum on talk radio. His "All The News That's Fit To Spoof" appears in L.A. Daily News opeds every Sunday (

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Albion Monitor   May 22, 2008   (

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