Friday, February 15, 2008

Piling on Hillary with Obama's Naiveté

So, I've been trying to put myself in Hillary Clinton's shoes. While I'll be the first to admit I have never been a huge fan, I don't think she's the antichrist, either. In fact, I have been feeling more than a little chagrined at the glee with which the exaggerated reports of Hillary's demise are being spun by the media, pundits, the blogosphere, and so on. Apparently some other folks aren't too wild about it either. When the news surfaced that Hillary recently loaned her campaign $5 million, it spurred $10 million in online contributions. If Hillary loses the nomination -- even steven, fair and square -- that's fine, that's politics. But I don't want her to lose because her campaign imploded (Bill, please be quiet, just for a while, okay?) or because pundits have demonized her and dissected her like a lab rat. Lately, I have been feeling some sympathy for Hillary -- imagine being this close to your goal, and perhaps sensing it slipping away despite all your preparation and efforts. Imagine people you don't even know saying hateful things about you, in print, on tv, whenever they feel like it. Imagine carrying the hopes and dreams of a generation of women on your shoulders -- and not delivering. I feel for the girlfriend, I really do.

Let me be clear. I'm not sure the gentlelady from New York is the best choice for the Democrats to run against Mr. Maverick in the fall. The speed with which she riles the Republican base is positively breathtaking, and her negative poll numbers -- while in many ways unfair -- are immovably embedded in concrete. In truth, I know people who wouldn't spit on Hillary if she was on fire. This is not a good start for someone trying to win the hearts, minds and votes of the mushy middle and, in the process, the White House. Truthfully, I also am not completely enamored of her politics. While a ziploc sandwich bag has more depth than our current president -- we have no where to go but up, folks -- I still could wish for someone less, well, mainstream. Ironic, huh, since the right has labeled Hillary Clinton as a feminista devil incarnate, straight from the lunatic fringe. She's soooooo not that. In fact, she's got some distressingly Blue Dog-like tendancies -- don't forget, she and Bill did that whole New Democrat thing: read, not progressive.

But I am intensely ambivalent about Obama as well -- albeit for different reasons. As is so often the case, I dearly wish I could combine the best qualities of the two candidates. No, I don't want a hermaphrodite for president -- I'd stick with the XX chromosomes in this instance, because I'd love to see a woman president. And I'd keep Hillary's experience, too -- including her DC, insider savvy -- which seems to be something of a dirty word these days. While Obama's rhetoric about change in Washington -- a new day, the audacity of hope, etc. -- are all very attractive and even occasionally inspiring, they are simply not realistic. No, no, I am not being overly cynical; I just remember what happened to Jimmy Carter. He, too, inherited a country in the midst of an oil-inspired economic downturn. He, too, had little DC experience, and pledged to change the tone. It made for great commercials then, too. And the Republicans ate his lunch, handed him his hat, and sent Carter packing in four years. And, oh yeah, followed up with the Reagan Revolution. I fear the same stonewalling, the same set up would happen to Obama. I believe his intentions are honorable. I believe Obama would sincerely try to change the tone. But it takes two to tango, and the Republicans will have no part of it. In fact, they will take great delight in cutting Barack off at the knees. The Grand Old Party is not magnanimous in defeat, and they'll be plotting Obama's downfall before the ink is dry on his inauguration speech.

I also fear that, in the name of changing the tone and the spirit of compromise, Obama will negotiate away much more, policy-wise, than I would like him too. In short, I fear his good intentions could get us all taken for a ride. Okay, maybe change has to start somewhere, and let it begin with me, blah blah blah... but the Republicans regularly eat their own young and ask for seconds. I just don't know that Obama has the experience and savvy to use the machine, the system, to have even a snowball's chance in hell of creating the change in tone we all want. But, because of his lofty promises and inspiring rhetoric, you can bet Barack will take the fall if change does not come to pass. And, on the political side, Obama has some Libertarian tendencies that don't sit well with me -- there is a reason why those independents and "Obama Republicans" kinda like him. Still, young voters adore him -- for good reason, he's one of us -- and are turning out in record numbers to pay homage.

I know, perhaps I am whining just a bit. We have two good candidates -- history making, talented candidates -- in the Democratic contest. I just can't make up my mind which one I like better, and in truth it comes down to who can beat McCain. Above all, I do not want four more years of a Republican president. Hillary is a tough cookie who has taken everything the right wing can throw at her and come out the stronger for it. She knows what she's in for if she's the nominee, and she's got the best politician in a generation at her side. Barack is inspiring but lacks experience -- though certainly the primary is helping to harden him as a candidate. Still, he has no idea what's in store for him when the swift boat machine starts firing indiscriminate half-truths and veiled innuendos -- and when all those independents who think they like him suddenly become turncoats after the Republican search and destroy mission. Remember, America does not know Barack Obama very well. Hillary -- she's a known quantity. And she can fire up our base, too.

Still, after writing this I have not managed to talk myself into either candidate. I just know that I'll support whoever's the lead dog come November. But a part of me, the girly part, sure hopes Hillary comes out of it okay -- win or lose. She's a trailblazer, and she deserves better than she's getting... and so do the women who I hope will follow her in quick succession.


Enlighten said...

Just look at the Congressional records of Hillary Clinton's past. For the people? America, you be the judge...

Hillary Congressional Records

Anonymous said...

Obama is living proof that Howard Dean's 50 state strategy works, as if the results in 2006 weren't already proof enough. His experience as a community organizer has served him very well, and clearly he took to heart Dean's experiences in 2000 both in raising money via the Internet and creating an effective grassroots organization in every state.

Hillary Clinton's organization is top-down and concentrated in the big payload states with a lot of delegates. That is not the way she won here in New York in 2000, by the way. She created a very powerful grassroots organization here, but that lesson appears lost on her when it comes to the country as a whole. Star power only gets you so far.

By ignoring the caucus states for the most part and seeming to forget that delegates are apportioned on a vote total basis, she is perhaps fatally vulnerable at this point in the primary campaign. I don't think the super delegates could give it to her at the convention even if they wanted to, if she loses both the popular vote and regular delegate vote. That would tear the party apart, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

As for the media, Clinton is much more moderate and centrist than she is painted, if anyone would take the time to stop reacting to her name and actually look at her record. That is too much to hope for, given the visceral hatred the Clinton name gendered in certain quarters.

I fear Obama soon will be turned into a demigod by his fan club (they seem much more than just supporters at this point), if this keeps up. What is absolutely irresponsible of the media attack dogs who parse every gesture by Clinton is their reporting on the Obama cult of personality and no rigorous examination of his policy ideas. I can't understand this pass Obama is getting - even Jesus would have to prove his bona fides if he came back to run.

If Obama gets it, I think the chances are very strong that Michael Bloomberg will jump in with an independent run, but at the last minute - after the conventions. That way he can take advantage of the exhaustion everyone will be feeling with the protracted process and the saturation we are already have with all the candidates.

And Mayor Bloomberg has all the money in the world to get out his message with little chance for the kind of scrutiny everyone but Obama seems to be getting. Bloomberg will have the luxury (if he enters the fray) of crafting his positions to meet the needs of the nation in the two months leading up to the election. A decided advantage, when we stop to recall how many issues have come and gone from the radar screen since this process stared in Feb of 2006.

Me? I still miss John Edwards.

ZaftigRedhead said...

Hey Folks -- It's the Zaftig Redhead's policy to pretty much publish all comments unless they are offensive. However, when I get one that's problematic in other ways I won't censor but I will respond.

So, in response to Enlighten's comments. Her link sends you to the ultra conservative Eagle Forum, home of noted anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly. View their information with a grain a salt -- in my opinion, it's not objective, nor trustworthy. You can be your own judge.

ZaftigRedhead said...

Madstop, I couldn't agree more with your comments. Well put. Interesting news about Bloomberg, too... I had thought he was out of it once Guiliani was out of it. If Bloomberg does jump in, that could be a huge problem -- if only from the fatigue factor, as you say.

And, I have been saying all along that Dean's 50 state strategy was the way to go. Just ceding states from the beginning is crazy -- it hurts the state party's efforts on down ticket races, and gives no opportunity to build.

As for Edwards, I miss him too... a lot. Did you know he is now raising money for the Dems running for all those open Republican congressional seats? What a guy. He'd have been a great president.