Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Deadbeat Candidate Offers Economic Solutions

Let's set aside for a moment the irony of a candidate whose campaign was a financial disaster claiming to be the one best able to handle some seriously difficult economic challenges. That's preposterous enough, but what strikes me as worse is who is getting stiffed by Clinton's financial mismanagement.

Turns out it's small businesses in Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire who are still owed money, and the emails and calls to Clinton's campaign are not being returned.

When you consider all the rhetoric about helping working families, protecting blue-collar workers against corporate greed, etc., this strikes me as particularly damning because the campaign is doing the exact opposite - literally. These small business owners and employees can speak up on a small scale, and the Washington Post did a story on it, but in the end, the campaign probably knows that their complaints won't affect the outcome of the race. And for that reason, it's almost more revealing - this is how she treats people when she doesn't think anyone's watching.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Made Richardson Flip?

There's an article in Slate Magazine by John Dickerson that tries to discern the motive behind Governor Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama. Dickerson writes:

What's significant about the [Nancy] Pelosi and Richardson duet is that both seem to have made a calculation that in the long-brewing tension between party elites and the new grass roots, they're siding with the latter. These veteran Democrats may be making their moves based on their assessments of Obama as a candidate, but they also may be informed by his success in raising money online and from a huge number of small-dollar donors, which may mean a dilution in the power of traditional rainmakers.

Dickerson brushes aside as a vague possibility that Richardson might actually think Obama's the better candidate, but pushes the idea that where the money's coming from in the democratic party "may" also be responsible.

Now it may, and the assertions here are so flabby that Dickerson could plausibly say that he was just raising certain possibilities, but the tone and underlying assumption is that Richardson made a calculated political move that might be explained by following the money.

I'm not saying it's impossible that Richardson did this, but why characterize his motive as a "calculation?" Maybe he just genuinely believes Obama would make a far better president? Doesn't that trump all kinds of political motives?

In short, I think a problem with a lot of political coverage is this cynicism that there must be some self-interested motive with Obama supporters the way there is for Clinton's.

I don't know how an Obama presidency would affect my financial interest, but I'm supporting him because I believe he'll do his best to act in the interests of the GOOD. Whatever that is. I haven't been pandered to - I don't care about his health care plan vs. Clinton's - who knows how that will eventually shake out? Can't that be the rationale for a lot of people - even Richardson?

In fact, I think that's what's fundamentally different about Obama's candidacy is that people support him because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that he's out for the GOOD generally, and they trust that if the GOOD is pursued (not the narrow good vs. evil
"good" that Bush pursued), then we will all be better off on the whole.

And I think this is the sense in which Obama intends to transcend the divisive politics of race, gender, etc. There's been some commentary that Obama's failed to transcend race given the Reverend Wright flap, but I don't think he's trying to transcend the topic of race or avoid talking about it - he transcends it by appealing to the GOOD of the whole, not the good for black people or certain divisions of the population in particular.

Clinton incidentally seems to do the exact opposite, pandering individually to blue collar workers, big business, hispanics, women, etc. Of course, her job's tougher because she's got to lie - there's no way to individually look out for every group - if you take care of big business, blue collar workers lose. If you take care of the blue collar workers, big business loses. She essentially has to lie to somebody because somebody's not going to get his back scratched as promised in the end.

But in looking out for the GOOD, there are no losers because everyone has a stake in that - even if it costs some groups financially in the short run.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why There's No Chance for Clinton

Forget about the math - which is reason enough - but I think fundamentally, Clinton can't win because I refuse to live in a world where that's possible. It just won't be brought into being in my reality. Period.

I refuse it. I reject AND denounce it.

And I think a lot of people feel the same way.

It was depressing to be sure when Bush won the 2004 election, but it's not like anyone had much hope for improvement under John Kerry. In this case, to have genuine optimism taken away for what - a petty, dishonest politician of the worst kind - it's an indignity that my world view would not permit.

It's also why the Clintons and the democratic party have no idea what's coming to them if they botch this - the party will cease to exist because enough people know the difference here.

The Fundamental Difference Between Obama and Clinton

Obama's candidacy is fundamentally different from Clinton's because it has vision; she merely has tactics. That's why he's able to give a speech like that in response to the Wright flap, and she's unable to come clean about Iraq. Speaking to the American people honestly is part of that vision, irrespective of whether it ultimately was the most sound tactical move. (Many have argued that throwing Reverend Wright under the bus would have been smarter politically).

The other reason Clinton can't come clean on the war is that it's not the "yes" vote that's dirty, but the motivation. Remember, she didn't even read the intelligence report. And it's not because she was too busy - what could possibly be a higher priority than that? It was because the content of the intelligence report would only be relevant for someone trying to get the vote *right*. She was trying to seem tough on national security. So how can she repudiate the vote? She'd have to admit that she should have read the report and address why she didn't.

So we have a clear choice - pick a candidate who will do his best to get things right, or pick one who will be playing the political game. Sometimes the two overlap, and even Clinton will take action resembling public service. But the vote on the Iraq war was an instance in which they diverged with particularly tragic consequences. There will be other such instances.

Obama should rout McCain - a weak candidate who's not even particularly liked by his own party and who's running to continue the policies of the worst and least popular president in American history. It would be much easier if Clinton put aside her petty ambitions in the interest of the democratic party, but someone's going to have to convince her why that's a smart tactic.

Stop The Monsters

It shocks me that anyone can support Hillary Clinton for president when we so urgently need a genuine leader and credible human being in that job after eight disastrous years. I can understand the frightened superdelegates who fear for their jobs if they jump ship - it's cowardly and despicable - but I can at least understand why they are fearful. But Americans who listen to the candidates, observe their demeanor, the way they carry themselves, the way their campaigns are run, the people who manage them - I cannot, for the life of me, understand how they could be for Clinton. 

I also can't understand what Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, John Edwards and Harry Reid are waiting for. Do you want to give Clinton two more months to sling dirt on the best candidate you've had in 50 years, or do you want to exercise some judgment and courage and endorse the person who has a chance to win in November, and much more importantly, will sincerely undertake the monumental task of setting America back on the right course?

Because in the end, the democratic (or republican) party only has importance insofar as it benefits America generally. If you're not going to show the minimal courage to do the obvious here, what relevance do you really have to America's citizens?