Monday, March 24, 2008
So Jess has been writing eloquent and well-argued posts supporting Obama and criticizing Hillary Clinton. As you may or may not know, I am a Hillary fan. And here's why.
First, Jess mentioned that voting another Clinton into office would further the dynastic trend that has shaped American politics--most notably in the presidency--since 1988. But America is a dynastic nation, like it or not. We may have fought a war against Britain to throw off the shackles of monarchy, but we've never quite shed the notion that some families are simply destined and determined for greatness. When we had won the election, the people asked Washington if he would be America's king; fortunately, he said no, and explained to us how hypocritical that would be, but it's telling that our revolutionary people's first instinct was to find a new king. Our second president was John Adams...and our sixth was his son. FDR, one of the most celebrated presidents in American history, was related to Teddy Roosevelt, and it's surely no coincidence that Frank followed his fifth cousin in ascending to the White House. John F. Kennedy later became president, and various other Kennedys, to various degrees of success, have followed suit. Sure, electing the son doesn't always work out, but to argue that electing another Clinton for president goes against the nature of our country is an idealistic notion; if anything, it proves the maxim that history repeats itself.
Then there's the matter of experience. Hillary hasn't been a senator long, but then, neither has Obama. Hillary gains the upper hand in that she lived in the White House for eight years. On top of that, she actually took action; sure, her health care plan kind of blew up in her face, but at least she did something. She was not content to just be a president's wife; she decided she was going to play an important role in the governance of this nation. That instinct for leadership doesn't happen in many people. Also, well, Hillary knows how things in the White House work. Again, she lived there for a while. She knows how to grease the right wheels, what to say and who to say it to, and--especially being married to Bill--exactly what a president can and cannot get away with, politically and other wise. Does that sound shady? The presidency is rarely a squeaky-clean office. But it requires an understanding of political nuance with which Hillary has more experience than Obama. Look, I think Barack will make a great presidential candidate someday. Just not now. I'd rather see him stay on Capitol Hill for a little while longer, get a little more politically seasoned, get to know Washington a little more fully, and then run. I just don't think he's ready yet. I mean, what do I know about how much experience a person should have before he or she is presidential material? So maybe I'm wrong, and maybe he is ready. But that makes Clinton ready as well. Ready-er, if you will.
Finally, a lot of people have said that in a race against McCain, Obama would do better. It's true that he is less of a polarizing figure; plenty of people hate Hillary, but few hate Obama. That said, the Republicans have time and time again relied on brilliantly manipulative and harsh advertisements, attacks, and statements in debates to defeat their opponents (Swift Boat, anyone?) As the 3am-phone-call ad suggests, the Clinton camp is ready to take on the Republican spin machine. I think Clinton could throw barbs right back at McCain, with a woman's scorn to boot. Obama has not been able to attack Clinton as memorably as she has attacked him. Say what you will about the state of modern American politics, in which attacks get you ahead, but it's naive to think that playing nice will win you an election, especially against a Republican party more desperate than ever.
So. Go Hillary! They had you pinned for dead, but you won Ohio and Texas. You're far from out of this race. And when this Democratic nomination election gets decided by superdelegates--which it almost certainly will--I hope that you still have your superdelegate lead.