Tuesday, May 06, 2008

indiana and north carolina

The baptism of Clovis (doesn't really have much to do with the primaries, but it's cool).

I think anyone who has read my blog at all over the past few months knows that I have been supporting Obama. So it will come as no surprise that I ask the gentle citizens of the great states of Indiana and North Carolina to vote for him in the primaries today.

A word about Hillary Clinton. The blogosphere has grown bitter with attacks from all sides against all the candidates. And yes, I count as one who has not always moderated his language when describing the junior senator from my state (I confess to having compared her to the devil in two posts -- I'm not sorry). I would like to explain my extremity of expression.

When the race for the Democratic nomination began (sometime in the fifth century, at least it seems that way to me), although I considered Hillary as intelligent and capable, I did not rush to support her. One reason was that I felt that dynasty politics are very bad for the country and that a continued Bush-Clinton alternation should be avoided. The other big question was, of course, the war. I was against the war from the beginning. I was one of those who shivered in the cold in the big February demonstration. I knew the accusations against the Hussein regime made no sense and I could see that an invasion would have horrible consequences. This war has been a massive disaster politically, diplomatically, and most importantly, morally. Of course, almost all Democratic politicians cravenly bowed to the administration's warlust, and Hillary is not the only one at fault. Yet her attitude towards the vote has been brazenly unapologetic. I have no idea whether John Edwards was sincere in his apology for voting for the war or not, but at this point at least a gesture is required. To tell the truth, until everyone who enabled this war -- from Bush and Cheney to Kerry and Clinton to Judith Miller and Rupert Murdoch -- engage in the equivalent of a barefoot pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Santiago, I will not be convinced that they are even aware of the enormity of the crime they have committed.

That said, at the beginning of the whole process I was uncomfortable with much of the criticism leveled at Hillary Clinton, especially from the right. Her "ambition" was constantly cited as a negative factor, as if anyone who was running for president were not ambitious. It seemed to me that what really motivated these attacks was blatant misogyny felt by those threatened by a strong women.

Of course, much of that was true, and the examples of sexism coming out of various pundits and talking heads during this campaign are legion. Still, I have become aware there are different kinds of ambition, and some are extremely destructive. Samantha Powers was forced to resign from the Obama campaign after calling Hillary "a monster" who "is stooping to anything," but at this point I have to agree with her. Of course, Hillary's senate record is not void of silly/nauseating pandering (the flag-burning amendment, the Kyle-Lieberman amendment), but hey, a politician's a politician. What she has done in this campaign, however, has been
toxic. I've already discussed this in earlier posts, so I won't go into detail, but the truth is that there is nothing her campaign hasn't sunk to -- race-baiting, lying, changing the rules mid-game, discounting a large portion of the electorate, threatening nuclear war, etc. It's unpleasant and destructive for her party.

In the end, it's destructive for the res publica on the whole. Hillary has used every Rovian tactic available -- the echo chamber of slander, the appeal to patriotism, the "with us or against us" accusation, the dismissal of her opponents as "elites." The gas tax holiday is really the last straw. Every economist, even the Hillary-worshiping Paul Krugman, have said that it's a bad idea. Many do not hesitate to use terms like "stupid." Clinton's response? She's for the common people, not those elite economists! Does this sound familiar at all? Think about George W. Bush and his rejection of elite scientists. Apart from whatever policy differences they have, Clinton, like Bush, depend on the dumbing down of the electorate to achieve and hold onto power. Clinton says things she knows aren't true hoping that we're stupid enough not to really check into them and rather rely on a complacent and lazy media more interested in sound-bites than in real information. She is using the tried and true GOP method to appeal to ignorance against knowledge. Whether or not the GOP and Hillary are right about the general electorate (and I pray they aren't, despite the evidence of the last eight years), they are insulting our intelligence. I'm sure Hillary really does believe she can do good things for the country and help people, but she comes from a political culture that sees the average citizen as nothing more but something to be manipulated and bamboozled at election time, and then thrust out of the way. Who is the true elitist here?

Come on Indiana and North Carolina, let's end this circus.

ADDENDUM: As usual, Jon Stewart explains it best:


cowboyangel said...

An excellent and thoughtful analysis of what's taken place in this campaign, Liam.

What's sad is that things didn't have to play out this way. At one point, somewhere wayyyyyy back in January, when it became clear that Richardson and Edwards weren't going to make it, I found myself leaning at times towards Hillary. Like many, I was concerned about Obama's lack of experience. Like Edwards, I was also concerned about Obama's inability to fight the Republicans. (And, to be honest, I still find him a little precious, just as I did after reading his book many eons ago.)

Though I've never liked or trusted the Clintons, and I was still furious about her support (her bloody endless support) of the war, I was not only ready to vote for her if she won the nomination, I was also toying with the idea of actively supporting her.

That lasted two or three days.

When I saw her make her remarks about MLK and LBJ, I was pretty turned off. I don't care how anyone tries to spin that, that LBJ (whom most Liberals have always despised) was suddenly a pivotal figure in the Civil rights movement, etc. (what a bizarre re-telling of history!), I got the sense then that she was sending messages to certain constituents.

From then on, it's been one reprehensible tactic after another. It seems apparent now that she and Bill made a calculated decision to go after the reactionary wing of the party, knowing that many liberal Dems would stick with them because they have warm fuzzy feelings about Bill (for what reason, I still do not understand - and none of them are ever able to rationally explain.) They knew they'd continue to get older women.

It's appalling to me the way they've turned the Democratic nomination process into a racial issue, painting Obama "black" with their gross and calculated remarks. They've been incredibly divisive, purposefully setting various sections of the Democratic Party against each other. In the end, they have behaved as despicably as any of the worst Republicans I abhor.

And for what? For the good of the country? For the good of the party? No. Just for their own disturbing and skewed sense of entitlement and privilege.

The irony is that I still have doubts about Obama. Many of them the same one I had a year ago after I read his book. Instead of making a legitimate case against him, the Clintons have totally besotted themselves with a disgusting campaign. Why did they choose this path? It's so incredibly damaging.

I'm not even sure at this point if I would vote for Clinton were she to win the nomination.

And after eight years of George W. Bush, I'm well aware of the profound implications of that line of thinking.

I would never vote for a Republican who did these things, and the more the Clintons behave like this, the more they remind me of George W. Bush, then I see no reason to vote for them either. They lack any moral authority to try and guilt me into voting for them simply because they call themselves "Democrats."

Really, it has to be one of the all-time most destructive campaigns a Democrat has ever run.

Liam said...

Yeah, it's pretty ugly. The polls aren't very promising,except Zogby, who's been way off lately.

I have more than one issue with Obama, especially on policy, but I'm still very happy to support him. I think until the Jeremiah Wright thing he has run his campaign in an amazing way, and I still don't think he really flubbed the Wright thing -- I don't think there were easy ways to deal with it.

I think his weaknesses as a candidate are more than matched by his strengths. Are they enough to get a black man named Barack Hussein Obama elected president of the United States? I don't know, we'll see. But the dems have such a bad record with "safe" candidates (Dukakis, Gore, Kerry), that I think it's time to go bold.

I have always thought Obama was more electable than Hillary. I might have been wrong, but I think she's less electable than ever now. A lot of us who were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt hate her with a burning passion now.

If Hillary were to manage to steal the nomination (and I will gladly debate anyone who says she can get it any other way at this point), I will not vote for her. I would if I lived in Ohio or Florida or whatever other swing state, but since I have been disenfranchised by the electoral college system, I can do my protest vote. I won't vote for McCain, or Nader if he's on the ballot, but I won't vote for Hillary.

KcM said...

I'm not voting for her in the general either. (I was leaning that way anyway, of course. The "elitist opinion" schtick was the last straw -- Might as well take my GOPisms neat.

I also think, some asshattery by Chris Matthews notwithstanding, the purported sexism of the media has been vastly overstated. I mean, really, who's the candidate talking about cajones?

cowboyangel said...

But the dems have such a bad record with "safe" candidates (Dukakis, Gore, Kerry), that I think it's time to go bold.

That's a great point. And I totally agree. Also, Obama has one crucial thing that I think many Democrats have lacked: a real sense of vision. Too often I feel like they're so desperate to win elections that they forget that people still want someone who at least appears to believe in something besides just getting into office.