Politically she has been progressive in both name and action. Just before her vote against the authorization for force against Iraq in 2002, she said, “Our invasion will engender a bottomless well of bitterness and resentment toward the United States that will haunt us for decades to come. We now have a choice to maintain the moral high ground or sink to the depths of our tormentors. History will record this moment!”
Congresswoman Watson is vivacious, well-educated and diplomatic. But in the end, loyalty may be her strong suit. Throughout the primaries, this Clinton supporter wrestled with race and gender issues. In February 2007, Obama held a rally at the predominantly African-American Dorsey High School. Watson’s alma mater. It was his first appearance in L.A. as a presidential candidate. At the time, Watson noted, “Obama is demonstrating that he is ready to lead our nation in a new and different direction. The only question remains: Is America ready for Barack?”
Then a funny thing happened on the way past the Forum — Obama’s campaign accelerated and Watson found herself trapped between the loyalty of gender and the history of race. As one black leader after another fell in line endorsing Obama, the pressure on Watson to do the same became enormous. But she wouldn’t buckle in her loyalty to Hillary Clinton. (She began receiving death threats and the FBI was notified.)
In the days before the convention, she tried to salvage some of the Clinton agenda. “What we wanted was a woman’s power recognized,” she explains. “We wanted catharsis."
She and a group of powerful California Democrats had amendments they wanted added to the platform to reflect Clinton’s positions. But negotiations faltered and Hillary’s name was put into nomination for a roll-call vote that ended with Clinton herself dramatically calling for Obama’s nomination.
Apparently, catharsis had occurred somewhere behind the scenes in a smoke-free room. Upon her return from Denver, I receive this e-mail from the congresswoman: “I join Senator Hillary Clinton in saying, ‘No way, no how, no McCain,’ and no Sarah Palin.”