Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama for President

We have been in a long funk of division and bitter politics for decades, and the Nation has suffered.

I've never understood the bitterness and hatred that Hillary Clinton brings out of so many people. I've met Hillary Clinton, and found her to be likable and even charming. She understands policy better than anyone in this campaign. Joe Klein (not a big fan of either Clinton despite his insistence otherwise) claimed last year to have been speaking to a ranking general and asked him which of the current presidential candidates best understood the US Military to which the general responded, "You mean besides Hillary Clinton?" A self-hating democratic friend I spent a lot of time with in the 1990's -- we'll call him 'James' -- absolutely hated Hillary Clinton. I once asked James to tell me exactly what she had done or said that caused his vitriolic hatred of her. With a crazy look in his eyes, he began spouting absurd lies about outrageous statements he insisted Hillary had made, and insisted her book, "It Takes a Village" took the position that a family could only function without men. It was then that I realized that much of Hillary hatred was simply misogyny.

But fair or not, this hatred of Hillary is undeniable and wide spread. You literally hear it every day, everywhere you go, from all sorts of people. It's a national past-time to hate Hillary which we cannot deny. Democrats must acknowledge Hillary's enormous weakness and be prepared to suffer as a result. And I will admit, it has taken it's toll on me. While I have not supported Hillary for the nomination, I felt comfortable with the idea of her as nominee and POTUS and believed that in a one on one race, people would warm to her making her election in November a safe bet.

Not any more. Two things have happened to me in the last several weeks.

One, is Clinton fatigue. Watching the tone and tenor of the Clintons campaign out of Iowa as they ruthlessly scratch and claw to return to power has turned my stomach (most glaringly their depraved race baiting). Bill and Hillary Clinton will do anything and say anything to return to power. As I said last night, I am SO FUCKING TIRED of the Clintons! I spent 8 years defending Bill Clinton and to a lesser extent, Hillary( and my reward was the pardoning of Marc Rich). I do not want to go back in time to the 1990s with the country exchanging Bush hatred for Clinton hatred for 8 more years. We face numerious crises as a country including energy issues, global warming, a failed state in Iraq, and an economy failing under the extreme pressure of 8 years of mismanagements. Every move Hillary makes is always calculated and hedged to preserve her power whether it's the vote on Iraq, the Bankruptcy bill or Iran.

The United States cannot afford 8 more years of bitterness and vitriol. I'm sick of it!

Second, we have in Barack Obama a real opportunity to end decades of bitter partisanship. I am a very recent convert to Obama. I met Barack when he was running for the Illinois Senate in 2004. We were invited to the Obama fundraiser in Edwardsville. I told my friends on the way over "this Barak guy doesn't have a chance. Chicago is backing Danny Hynes and he's going to win". I had a one-on-one conversation with Obama that night as be bent over (he's tall and I'm not) to give me his full attention. Like a dope, I had nothing to say to that naive guy who thought he could beat Chicago. I didn't even have my picture taken with him! When Obama announced his presidential bid, I again sagely observed "Obama's is too young and getting in too late -- he will never be able to compete with Edwards and Clinton on fund raising." I've finally have learned my lesson.

Everywhere I go, Republican friends of mine (being a white male, I have many such friends) will invariable whisper, so as not to be heard, that they really like this Obama guy and could see themselves voting for him.

The United States is at the most precipitous time of my conscious life. The Middle East is burning and the GOP is suggesting adding gas to the fire. Hillary votes to fill the gas cans so she can hedge her bets looking forward to her 2012 re-election campaign.

Barack Obama offers a chance to re-write the electoral map and drive a stake in the heart of the Republican party and its current alignment around the politics of hate and fear (Obama out-polled both GOP frontrunners in South Carolina! Think about that!!!). The Republican party is on the wrong side of nearly every issue and has been for years. The Democrats failure to capitalize on the GOP's faults has been a failure of good leadership. As a reader of Andrews Sullivan's blog noted,
The problem is that establishment Democrats have been so traumatized by what occurred in the 1980s and 1990s that they simply don't recognized this opportunity for what it is - a Reagan-style realignment that could potentially shape politics and political discourse for the next generation. They're like shell-shocked soldiers who haven't recognized the enemy has stopped shooting and is retreating from the battlefield.
That realignment doesn't happen by replacing another Bush with another Clinton. Sending Hillary to the White House simple changes the lightening rod and give the GOP more reason to hate.

Make those hateful fear mongers run against a campaign of hope and renewal. Tell the world that America stands with them to confront terrorism, global warming and an oil shortage.

Just think about what is left of the Republican party if there nominee only caries a handful of the deep Southern states? Where do they go from there? We have a chance to make that happen, but we cannot look to the past.

Vote for Barack Obama in your states primary. We can and must make a change.

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