Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Words DO matter...

In the aftermath of Obama's stunning victory tonight in Wisconsin he delivered a 45 minute policy-oriented, highly detailed speech that was an overview of his solid positions on many of the most important issues of the campaign: Iraq, the economy, energy, education, health care, children, parenting, the political culture, immigration, and indeed the American character. There he stood, in front of 20,000 excited people in a Houston basketball arena, presenting a profound vision of the transcendental possibilities that makes this country a true beacon of hope. The irony, of course, is that it is Obama who is repeatedly attacked by dullards like Clinton and McCain for not basing his campaign on specific solutions for the mess that Bush has made of this once-great country.

I defy anyone to compare the trite, hackneyed rhetoric of Clinton and McCain's "speeches" tonight with Obama's. He slapped both of them down, rubbing his eloquence in their faces, beating back their desperate attempts to obscure the obvious reality of this situation: Obama is smarter and classier than either Clinton or McCain; more importantly, it is Obama who also has the real ideas to implement real change. Is the country really screaming for an 80-year-old with a horrible temper to have his hands on the nuclear button in 7 or 8 years? That is a frightening vision that is the answer to McCain's weak fear-mongering about the big bad world and how Obama cannot keep us safe from all those bad guys(like Bush's Saudi buddies that were here legally, taking their flying lessons, crashing planes into the WTC). Yes, McCain WAS a war hero--30+ years ago, before many voters were even alive. All he has shown recently is that he is out of touch with this world, the here and now that people care about, people whose kids are dying in a war so futile and pointless that it makes Vietnam look noble by comparison. McCain is a man whom time has passed by. He doesn't get it, and his ignorance makes him dangerous for all Americans. As Frank Rich wrote in last Sunday's New York Times, "Trapped in an archaic black-and-white newsreel, the G.O.P looks more like a nostalgic relic than a national political party in contemporary America." As for McCain, "in the vast arena of the internet he has been shrunk to Grumpy Old White Guy, the G.O.P. brand incarnate." Where were all those black Republicans to stand up and support McCain in his victory speech? There are NO black Republicans in the House OR Senate and black voters account for 2% of GOP primary voters.(2-17-08)
The reality, of course, is that all presidents work in concert with advisors, cabinet members etc. Obama, unlike idiots like Bush-McCain, seems especially willing to consider and even embrace divergent ideas and points of view. In essence, that is why he is not only winning this election but wiping out Clinton and McCain. Obama has a very real chance to step it up in Texas and close the show.

The more I see of Barack Obama, the more I am impressed with the dignity, class and restraint he has shown throughout this campaign. Yes, restraint, for imagine if it were Obama that had LOST 10 states in a row, most by landslide margins and all by convincing margins. The Clinton campaign would be demanding that he withdraw from the race, accusing him of tearing apart the party, claiming that he is driven by ego rather than reality. Well, where does that leave the pathetic spectacle that is Billary? She continues on, ignoring another trouncing tonight, refusing to acknowledge the failure that surrounds her, desperately attacking Obama, the "hope-monger" As Obama noted, "We don't need leaders who are telling us what we cannot do." Running a "No, we can't" campaign has never worked in American politics, and Clinton is paying the price for her ruthless cynicism and hypocrisy. Soon, the inevitable calls for her withdrawl will begin. Let's face the facts: When a team loses 10 games in a row, all by double-digits and most by 20 points or more, there is no way to spin that. There are no moral victories in politics. People are simply not that stupid; Billary's base may be uneducated, but even they can see the writing on the wall. This laughable attempt to continually move the goal posts, claiming that this state and that state favor Obama, is really one of the more disturbing events in modern political history.

Imagine if it were Obama who was dismissive of any state that he didn't win. What would the reaction be? How would he be characterized? She has lost 25 of 35 states yet is given a pass to define victory on her own terms. It's like the Miami Dolphins losing their first 10 games this season(as they did), only to say, "who cares, we're waiting for that Baltimore game, that's the big one." OK... Talking about Texas, Ohio etc. is irrelevant, for short of outright fraud or a total collapse of Obama's campaign, Clinton needs to forget about winning the party's nomination, despite Billary's ruthless pursuit of superdelegates. As the New York Times reported(2-17-08), there are 79 superdelegates from states and districts that Obama won by large margins that are supporting Clinton and over 100 of the undecided are from states that Obama won big, a clear indication of the flawed nature of the process. Obama won Washington state with 68% of the vote, yet the state's two U.S. Senators are both voting for Clinton? These are the types of politicians who need to be held accountable to the will of their constituents, as Tad Devine wrote in the New York Times: "The perception that the votes of ordinary people don't count as much as those of political insiders, who get to pick the nominee in some mythical back room, could hurt our party for decades to come."(2-10-08)

The reason I will not vote for Billary under any circumstances at this point has nothing to do with her qualifications or policy positions; it has to do with their complete and utter disregard for basic decency, fairness, and moral principles, whether it has to do with the race issue, the DNC rules, or the smug assumption of inevitability that is more suited to a monarchy than a democracy in a clearly transitional historical phase. First, the battle to claim Florida and Michigan delegates is simply disgusting: The candidates all signed a pledge not to campaign or contest the votes in those states; Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan, yet Clinton wants to claim the "ghost" delegates. The bigger issue, and a shocking one, is that in Michigan she couldn't even break 50% of the white male vote in an election where she was the only candidate on the ballot!

Americans value a fair game and will not tolerate cheaters, as baseball players are learning the hard way, yet here is Clinton pushing to change the rules of the game after it was played, deciding that a Spring Training game was actually game 7 of the World Series or that a pre-season game was actually the Super Bowl. That's not how we do things in this country. The two states were told that their votes would not count if they moved their elections up, and everyone agreed to it, including the Clintons. Now they want to seize delegates that were uncontested because they are getting embarrassed in every fair fight they've engaged in. If the Clintons wanted those states to count, they should have asked to change the rules BEFORE the votes were cast so that Obama could have a fair chance to get his name out there. The interesting irony is that had the idiots in Michigan and Florida simply kept their elections on Feb 5th they would have had the huge influence that they wanted. The individuals who disenfranchised their own state's voters are the villains of this story. What the hell were they thinking? They were clearly told that if they moved their elections earlier than Feb 5th, their votes would not count, yet they did it anyway, played chicken with the democratic rights of millions of people...and lost.

The brutal truth is that the only significant states Clinton has won in the entire election are the Super Tuesday ones where Obama did not have nearly enough time to campaign. Think of the name recognitition advantage she had in a 20+ state single-day primary--and she lost over half of those states! People know the Clinton name, but once they get to know Obama, they drop the Clintons quickly. That's essentially what has happened in the last 14 days. As I predicted, when Obama has time to get into a state and mobilize his prodigious ground troops, he quickly turns the tide. That's why he's likely to win Texas and Ohio and end this thing if he doesn't make a substantial mistake on the campaign trail or in the debates.

The Clinton campaign responded to the first sign of trouble by trying to play on the worst instincts of Americans, playing the race card, characterizing Obama as another black radical, but to their dismay they found a new America, one that was ready to turn a significant page in race relations, and Billary is still reeling from this epiphany: They simply cannot comprehend what is happening, as states all over this country have rejected their smear campaigns and shallow rhetoric. Like a punch drunk fighter, they are trapped on the ropes, pummeled by 10 unanswered blows, waiting for the ref to step in, arms waving, and mercifully call an end to the fight...
On to the showdown on March 4th. It was on that day--March 4th, 1933, that F.D.R. gave his own little rhetorical speech, something about "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," as the country faced the worst crisis in its history.
Just words...

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