Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Obama Fever

"Having gone through eight years of EST with Bill Clinton and almost that much of AA with George Bush, we should be burned out on psycho-therapeutics as opposed to physical reality but sadly many are taken in by Obama's covert message that if you trust in hope you don't have to worry about the details like pensions and healthcare." - Sam Smith

I don't know which is more sickening, the non-substantive, sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, or the non-substantive love fest for Barack Obama. I also hasten to add that I have never been a fan of Hillary's. I am a New Yorker who has always found someone else on the ballot to vote for and I remain a staunch Dennis Kucinich supporter.

It is quite bizarre. Despite my ideological antipathy to Hillary Clinton I do feel badly for her. Barack Obama will probably win the New Hampshire primary tonight, but it won't be because he is any better than she is. Bill Clinton is right. The press does give him a pass. Obama has managed to present himself as anti-war when he first opposed invading Iraq, then said he doesn't know how he would have voted, then said a time table for withdrawal was bad, then said we need a time table for withdrawal. Every statement depended on the direction of political winds at the time.

He claims to be opposed to permanent bases but his own website says, "He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda." That leaves a lot of wiggle room to maintain the status quo.

Clinton should be losing because her policies don't differ very much from those of the Bush administration. Instead she is losing to someone else whose policies do not differ very much from the Bush administration's. Hillary Clinton thought that the old school Clintonian strategy of beating up Democrats and daring them to complain would keep working. Obama is nothing but savvy. When he began to falter in the polls he realized that he had to at least give lip service to progressives.

She voted for the Senate resolution against Iran. He stayed away and attacked her for her vote. Obviously if he was opposed he would have shown up and voted in the nay column. He has out slicked Mrs. Slick Willy.

Clinton bears much of the blame for her political flame out. She refused to admit she made a mistake in voting for the Iraq occupation and now looks phony when she says she would not have made the same decision as president. She apparently learned nothing from the Kerry debacle.

She and her supporters also messed up big time when they joined in the anti-Obama smears about madrassas and drug use. It was blatant dirty politics and of course it all back fired. Now she is in serious trouble. She shot her financial wad in Iowa and may skip campaigning in upcoming primaries in order to focus on the February 5th super primary.

Her panic is evident in her much maligned teary eyed reply to a question in New Hampshire. The press are circling like vultures and not because they want to put her on record regarding any important issues. They have found someone they like better and they like him because he lets them off the hook.

Obama gives white America a get out of jail free card. "There is no black America," he declared at the 2004 Democratic convention. Those are potent words. White people love to hear that
". . . white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America." Spare me. Black people have never asked anyone to feel guilty. We have demanded full citizenship rights, and made the greatest progress when we have done so consistently and unaplogetically.

Now we face the prospect of being worse off because a black man is president. Yes, I said worse. We already hear that Oprah Winfrey's success, or black oscar victories prove that racism is a thing of the past. If there is a black president those specious arguments will win the day. Combine that with Obama's opportunistic going along politically to make white people feel safe and we have a recipe for trouble. We will still have troops in Iraq and the same expensive health care system that doesn't keep us well or even cover all of us. Paul Krugman was kind when he called Obama naive. He isn't naive at all. He plans to change very little once he gets to the White House.

As every political observer knows, the themes a politician uses on the campaign trail often don't match his or her style of governance once elected. That's rarely considered a good thing, but in this case, people seeking real change should hope that Obama's feel-good language is just campaign spin.

That's because progressives' best hope with Barack Obama would be that he use his message of "hope" and reconciliation to bring millions of new voters into the process for the first time, gather an enormous amount of political capital, and then turn around, take off the gloves and shove that mandate right down the GOP's throat.

Well, that hope is audacious.