Saturday, January 26, 2008

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND POLITICS

In my family, we’re all solidly for Obama, supposedly. But we do have one family member who appears to be waffling. She fits all the Hillary demographics. She’s not black. She’s not a man. And she’s not young. Boy is she not young.

I’m referring to my dear mother, who claims that she supports Obama, but I can’t be sure. She’s always been a big Hillary fan. And when she heard Barack debate with Hillary, she called him “too slick” -- an ironic choice of words, considering that for the last week, he’s been campaigning against Bill Clinton.

Lately, that’s what this election has been all about – Barack versus Bill. Have you noticed? The wife has receded to the background. She spent half of the past week outside of South Carolina, thereby downplaying the importance of the race there – and I mean the black race as well as the primary. The Democratic Party thought that it was important to have hard fought contests in four states. One in the south, one in the northeast, one in the west, and one in the Midwest. Only one of those states had a significant black population. And Hillary didn’t feel compelled to campaign for those votes. Intended or not, it sends quite the message. And the African-American voters of South Carolina heard that message loud and clear.

I can’t adequately explain why Hillary abandoned South Carolina and its black voters. But one possible explanation is that she didn’t think she was abandoning it at all. She may have thought by sending Bill, she doesn’t need to campaign. Hell, maybe if she’s elected, she could take two months off and just let Bill take over the White House. Why not? Constitution, Schmonstitution.

This past week, something in me snapped. I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but I know why it happened. It was caused by the Clintons’ claim that Barack Obama said that he liked the ideas of Ronald Reagan – meaning the right wing ideas of Ronald Reagan. That was it for me. Once the Clintons drummed in that point, I stopped thinking exclusively about Barack Obama (my dream candidate) and started looking at John McCain. I hate to say it, because I’m a nearly a yellow-dog Democrat, but the Clintons must be stopped. For the good of our political process, they must be stopped.

Make no mistake, my fellow Empathic Rationalists, I can devote an entire blog post to singing the praises of Hillary Clinton. Sincerely I could. And as for her hubby, I was an early member of his Saxophone Club. I love the fact that those two are true policy wonks. And I truly believe that deep down, they’re about as non-racist as any white family in America. Let me add that I have loathed the way they were hounded by the GOP talking heads from the moment Bill took office in 1992.

There are a lot of reasons to support Hillary Clinton. And, I’m sure, there are reasons to amend the Constitution and let Bill run for President again in 2016 once Hillary is finished (Bill will still be younger than McCain, I suspect). But folks … at some point, those reasons just don’t seem very compelling. Not when the Clintons are resorting to the deliberate distortion of their opponents’ statements in order to get elected.

I shouldn’t have to tell anyone who is reading this blog that Barack never endorsed the ideas of Ronald Reagan. But like I have done on numerous occasions in this portion of cyberspace, Barack did praise Reagan for having ideas. And I have gone even further in praising Reagan – I’ve toasted him for being true to his ideas rather than campaigning one way, and governing another.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t screw up the country in various ways. I don’t like his ideas and neither does Barack, but we should give the man his due just as we should give Hillary her due.

Hillary and her better half knew full well that Barack wasn’t endorsing Reagan’s right wing ideology or his record. Hillary herself praised Reagan in a recent conversation with Tom Brokaw. So how then can she justify attacking Barack for essentially saying the same thing she has? Because, for a certain type of politician, when you’re starting to lose, it’s time to resort to the big lie. They figured that shortly before the Nevada primary, they’d link Barack with Reagan and thereby cause voters with sub 100 IQs to vote for Hillary. Until tonight, that strategy actually seems to have worked.

I discussed those sorry events with my mother, and all she said was “All’s fair in love and politics.” I couldn’t tell whether she’s 100% serious or not. But this much I can tell – Hillary can count on her vote in November. Even though my mother recognizes Hillary’s relentlessly negative and sometimes dishonest campaigning style, she still doesn’t see that as reasons not to vote for a politician. Since no politicians can be trusted, my mother argues, we shouldn’t take honesty into account in evaluating their candidacy. Somehow, I don’t think my mom is alone in that assessment.

This is what our democracy has evolved into. It explains a lot about why this country gets the sorry leadership we get, and why we appear to be an empire on the decline. It’s precisely what Obama is trying to change, and Hillary and Bill will do everything it takes to stop him. They’ve turned into the Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly of Presidential politics. And that’s why I’ve started thinking to myself, “If Obama loses, is McCain really that bad?”

Tonight, we’ve heard from Barack Obama, who unlike Bill and Hill was actually in South Carolina. Barack gave a rousing speech, like he did in New Hampshire and Iowa, but this one had an edge to it. He’s been hardened by the battles of the last few weeks, that’s obvious. He’s been hardened by Bill’s reference to his story on Iraq as a “fairy tale.” Hardened by Bill’s comparing his candidacy to that of Jesse Jackson (how is that not playing the race card?). Hardened by Hillary’s accusation that he was building up false hopes in a country that has all but lost hope. And hardened by the idea that his opponents would intentionally misrepresent his record on Reagan. He realizes now that he’s fighting an uphill struggle. But he also realizes that he will surely win enough states to keep this thing going well past Super Tuesday. And he also must realize that whenever a primary election is completed, he gets to give a speech, and whenever he gives a speech, he demonstrates yet again that when it comes to oratory, we haven’t seen his equal in decades.

For the last two weeks, it has been two against one. That worked for the two in Nevada, and for the one in S. Carolina. But tonight, it’s two against two. I hadn’t mentioned that Obama has some new help. It comes from the pages of the New York Times, the same establishment-vehicle that recently endorsed Bill’s wife. Pick up your Sunday Times tomorrow and you’ll find a quite different endorsement. It comes from Carolyn Kennedy. And she states, explicitly, that finally, she has found a politician that reminds her of her father.

No kidding. You’d have to be toned deaf – or racist – not to see parallels between Obama and JFK, or for that matter, RFK or Martin Luther King. None of those inspiring figures lived longer than Obama. Strangely, though, they don’t have people around to mock their inexperience, compare their statements to “fairy tales,” or accuse them of raising false hopes. As a result, they are being defined for us by their own words and deeds, and most of us yearn for public figures just like them.

Well, folks, I believe we now have just such a person. Ignore him if you’d like, but Carolyn Kennedy knows greatness when she sees it.

If we Americans can see greatness in the eye, and opt instead for the same old politics of intentional distortions and fear … then we’re in one heap of trouble. Tonight, though, belongs to Obama and to his message of change. “Yes, we can,” chant his supporters. Yes, we can.” Until the proverbial Fat Lady sings, I’m going to remember that. Hillary might have a lot of support among the party apparatchiks in the Super Tuesday states, and Bill might have a lot of support among the masses of voters in those states, but Obama is running an incredibly inspired campaign, and I don’t see how anyone can deny that. Does that mean he’ll win? No. But it means, quite possibly, he can win. Yes, he can. Yes, we can.

7 comments:

Betty C. said...

I read every word of this post -- I don't have time to read enough analysis of the elections, so your insights are very pertinent.

And did you see on And So Forth that I've joined the cause? And I even gave you credit? And I've even give money to Obama's campaign?

Daniel Spiro said...

Betty --

I don't want to be rude, but I can't respond to anything involving giving money to candidates because of my position as a federal government employee.

As a matter of law, I can express my positions on elections, but I can't fund raise.

By the way, as for the election itself ... here's one thing that Obama will always be able to say: in the four primary elections in which the people were allowed to take a really close look at the candidates, Obama kicked some butt. Clinton has a huge advantage with the Democratic establishment, and that will help her going forward, but what Obama has accomplished to date is pretty impressive.

Night Stranger said...

Supposedly I fit the Hillary demographic too, but there is nothing on this earth that would ever induce me to vote for her. I say this with full awareness that she will probably be the Democratic candidate.

Obama has a lot to overcome. Let's face it, the Clintons are entrenched, and so many of the party faithful think it's her turn. They also want to see Bill back in the White House, although the prospect gives me chills. They didn't ask me.

What do you think of the recent suggestions Obama and Hillary are going to mend their fences and run together? I still admire John Edwards and wish he were in a different contest. He'd never accept V-P again, but would be a wonderful Attorney General. I hope he goes all the way to the convention, then it would be like old times when the conventions meant something.

Daniel Spiro said...

Would it be Obama-Hillary, or Hillary-Obama? That's the big question.

Night Stranger said...

It's going to be Hillary at the top of the ticket, so I guess that means Barack gets second place in this little scenario. She gets two terms (of course) and then he gets a shot.

I'm being a little facetious, a little serious. I hope that isn't the way it goes. As you say, if the Clintons can just be stopped now--could you really see her being #2?

Daniel Spiro said...

Frankly, I don't think it would make sense for Barack to accept the VP spot. Nor do I think he should nominate Hillary for VP if he gets the Presidential nomination.

Really, it's time to move on from her and her crazy husband.

Night Stranger said...

I agree! I would hate to see Obama in second place to you-know-who. And the Kennedy endorsement was a beautiful event. It reminded me of your unforgettable words, "And he also must realize that whenever a primary election is completed, he gets to give a speech, and whenever he gives a speech, he demonstrates yet again that when it comes to oratory, we haven’t seen his equal in decades."

Great stuff, Dan. I may have to borrow that thought for a blog post of my own, or at least for a couple of dozen emails.