THE PLANK JUNE 5, 2008
David Greenberg is a professor of history and media studies at Rutgers and a contributing editor to The New Republic.
Despite what you may have heard, there is nothing slow or delayed about Hillary Clinton's decision to wait until Saturday to formally concede the Democratic nomination--at least as a historical matter. It has been a while since a Democratic nomination fight came down to the wire as this one has, but consider:
* In 1984, when Walter Mondale prevailed over Gary Hart in the final primaries on June 6, Hart waited until June 25 to drop his plans to challenge Mondale's delegates, and until June 27 to appear with Mondale in a unity photo-op.
* In 1980, when Jimmy Carter sewed up enough delegates for the nomination on June 3, Ted Kennedy didn't concede until the convention, and some supporters, such as West Virginia's Robert Byrd, took umbrage at calls for him to do so sooner ("People shouldn't jump to conclusions the next day or week after the primaries are over," said Byrd).
* In 1976, when Carter similarly won on June 9, the last primary day--despite losing California that day to Jerry Brown and New Jersey to "uncommitted"--it took Morris Udall, the runner-up, until June 15 to concede.
It may be too much to expect pundits to remember this history. But it does lend a little perspective.