Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Final Four

Today I hear that John Edwards is dropping out of the Democratic race, following the withdrawl of Rudy Giuliani from the Republican race yesterday. Apparently Edwards was hoping that in a meaningless primary in Florida (no Democratic delegates will be seated) that voters would feel free to vote for him. Maybe they did, but clearly not enough of them did.

Edwards has always been a tireless advocate for the poor and the disenfranchised. It is significant that he will make his withdrawl speech in New Orleans, which has never received the kind of help from the Federal Government that President Bush promised right after Katrina.

So the candidates who remain are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and John McCain and Mitt Romney for the Republicans Yeah, I know that there are still other Republicans running, but they won't win. Huckabee's shoe-string campaign couldn't afford even a narrow loss last week in South Carolina, but that's what they got. Ron Paul is only still running because he has the opposite problem from Huckabee-- a lot of money to spend and no sizeable base of support within the GOP. After millions of people gave him a ton of money a few weeks ago, Paul pretty much has to keep running because otherwise those Paul supporters would be furious with him for wasting their donations, and something tells me they're not the most forgiving type. It's conceivable though that he could still run in the General as a Libertarian.

Being a Democrat, I'm going to focus on our side. I may put up a post on the Republicans later this week.

I do feel that on the Democratic side, we are left with on balance two candidates who I could support. Right now I am for Obama (I was for Richardson but he quit), but while I've been critical of Hillary in the past I won't have any problem supporting her if she does win the nomination. Obama's commitment to get us out of Iraq is much more believable, and if there is one good thing about his meteoric rise from just being a community activist in Chicago, it's that he's not all that far removed from ordinary life as lived by ordinary people (and if he doesn't remember what that was like you can be sure that Michelle Obama will yank him back to reality in a hurry.) Beyond that, he's right when he talks about moving beyond 'red' states and 'blue' states and remember that we live in the United States. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations have been marked by hyper-partisanship which has resulted in one party being shut out of the process when one side has complete control, and gridlock when that is not the case. I personally think that all began with Newt Gingrich and his politics of slash-and-burn campaigning, but regardless of how it started, there is no question that things are more charged than they have been in the past. The atmosphere in Washington today, far from being an honest debate on the issues with the idea of reaching a solution to the problems facing the country and its people, is now about playing a game of 'one-upsmanship' and 'gotcha' against the other side. To be blunt, I believe that President Barack Obama could change that while President Hillary Clinton could not.

8 comments:

wunelle said...

Like you, I could happily support the candidacy of either Clinton or Obama (or John Edwards, if it had come to that). Either would make a gigantic leap forward over our current administration.

Do you really think that the Clinton White House was as partisan as W's? Clinton seemed a much, much more inclusive political entity than W.

I cringe when I listen to the State of the Union speech (or read the transcript & comments; I cannot listen to him) where W entreats us to work together--Cheney and Karl Rove have made militant, my-way-or-the-highway politics of forceful exclusion an iron clad rule, and the rest of the Repubs have been happy to oblige.

In this environment, Obama's country-wide embrace seems a huge breath of fresh air.

Eli Blake said...

Wunelle:

Clinton could be very partisan (i.e. the 1993 budget with a tax increase, passed in the same way as Bush's legislation, with zero consultation with Republicans, or Hillary's closed door secret meetings of her health care task force, mirrored later by Cheney's energy task force and Bush's Social Security reform task force.) However, most of the partisanship then did come from the far right, especially Gingrich and Tom DeLay, whose brand of politics focused on personal attacks, lies, distortions, and spreading hate. I remember after Clinton official and confidante Ron Brown was killed in a plane crash a talk radio station I was listening to in Albuquerque had a caller (or maybe it was the host, it's been a few years) who was beside himself with glee, wishing only that the President himself had been on the plane.

Now, I don't blame Hillary for that (in fact she was attacked in a savage and personal way that would have been unthinkable for any first lady before or since.) But I also don't think she would be able to undo the atmosphere that pervades Washington, no matter what she did (part of which is what scares me-- she's already known to tilt to the right in her voting record, the reason I'm not supporting her, how much more would she give in in a vain attempt to try and call off the pit bulls of the right?)

shrimplate said...

I will miss Edwards, and I hope he finds some way to stay busy in national politics.

I have said before that I'd like to see him in the Cabinet. Attorney General, maybe? SCOTUS? Sure.

Zach said...

I think that there has been a lot of partisanship in the Bush administration. I think, though, that he, individually has crossed those lines. He was far from one of our greatest presidents. But when you look at immigration, he has been crossing partisan lines. And, when you look at the issues he was elected on, immigration is near the top.

He was a president who came in with great plans. Those plans were sidetracked by some tragic situations. In his rections to those situaions, he may have been less than a bipartisan genius, but I can honestly say that I think his intentions were very good.

I also think you have to look at the circumstances. I think a similar set of circumstances will make it very tough for a Democrat now to be very bipartisan as president. Bush came into a Republican controlled congress, who worked under a controversial (to say the least) two-term incumbent Democratic president. The far right (and even middle right) must have been thrilled to finally be able to act in a partisan way.

Similarly, the new Democratic president will have a lot to do to overcome the joy of partisan Democrats at getting a president from their party after GDub.

Basically, I think that the partisanship comes more from Congress than from the White House, and that a President has to be a lot more committed than you might think to overcome that.

shrimplate said...

Zach, you either willfully misunderstand or ignorantly dismiss the nature of Bush. It's clear to those who have read up on him that he is malignant.

Signing statements.
Torture.
Katrina.
Jeff Gannon.
The Plame outing.
Anthrax.
Hustling the bin Ladens out of America during the post-9/11 no-fly period.
World-record debt.
Domestic spying.
Faith-based initiatives.

There is NO good will in any of this, and certainly NO bipartisanship.

It's what you might expect when a sociopath obtains the presidency.

I only hope that America will preserve its electoral institutions somewhat intact over the next twelve months and we can get over this sad episode in our history.

miriam said...

I am actually very depressed about Edwards dropping out when he did. WHY didn't he at least give all of us in the big super Tuesday opp to vote for him??? Maybe he would have made some major progress! (Almost everyone *I* know - who is a voting Democrat - was for him, esp. since Kucinich dropped out). I know - its about the money - I guess he ran out and couldn't feed the media machine in California, not to mention all the other places. But he could have made a huge difference - the convention could have been a real democratic process! I remember those long nights when I was a kid and my parents stayed up til 3am waiting to see who would get the most delegates at the convention.... I've thought its odd and horrible that we don't have that anymore.

I was listening to CNN the night that Edwards bailed and Candy Crowley said that Edwards voters are "rural, lower income - voters who might gravitate to Hillary..." WHAT? My perception is that Edwards voters were REAL progressives!!! Urban, rural, whatever, educated or just smart, and brave..!!! People who heard his message that corporate facist power is WRONG and we need to change it!!! The media. That 4th estate is the Borg, IMHO.

When all this started (so many months ago) I was so envigorated - WOW we had so many GREAT choices! How has it turned into something that hurts? I will really have to rethink. What are the options? Truly, I wasn't yet prepared to only have these 2 choices. I was going to vote, Tuesday Feb. 5, for Edwards.

My issue with Barack is what do we know about him? How do you evaluate someone's judgement and abilities when you have a vague parochial record? Hillary is very experienced, but I think she bends over and lets the corportists run the show when it is expediant. Not a good quality. But we just DON"T KNOW about Obama - except that he rides the Kennedy thing and says "change" and "work together" a lot, and (of course) he is a real democrat. I recently got a promotion at work, and have thought about the parallels with Obama since I've become a "director" and have "power." I went into my job with a deep belief in collaboration instead of competition (possibly a core democratic trait), and wanting to change things so that they would work better for everyone. As I'm learning, that sounds good, but it is really really really hard when so many in the world lead with their egos. And I'm in a micro of the world. Does Obama know at all how it will be as the "leader of the free world" when the greedy beasts show up and enshroud him in their cloaks of evil? How does he (and we) know how he will react?

Also, I really used to like Hillary. Now I'm skeptical and negative and even verging toward repulsed. Is that real, or is it that damn (Republican) media machine making that happen?...I don't even trust my own gut and knowledge anymore.

Of course, I'll make a choice. One way or the other - the only 2 options at this point. And I'll support the nominee, possibly enthusisatically. But for today, I'm not happy about how it all feels and about the fear that a Republican will be in the whitehouse at this time next year.

Eli Blake said...

miriam,

I would agree that part of why people don't like Hillary is because of the constant GOP attacks in the media, but she's brought it on herself a lot as well because of her votes on Bush policies like NCLB, the Iraq war (especially the war), the bankruptcy bill and Patriot I and Patriot II.

However, I don't have the same concerns you have about Obama. He has a record. In fact, just the other day the National Journal compiled their 2007 rankings and ranked him as the most liberal Senator. Granted you can skew a ranking if you like (though National Journal is not overtly partisan) and Republicans used Kerry's #1 ranking (and Edwards' #4 ranking) in 2003 against them last time around.

Obama also made a well-documented speech in 2002 in which he came out against the war.

Part of the spin that Obama doesn't speak out on anything comes from the right-wing spin machine (who plan to use the same playbook they did against John Kerry) and it is false. For example, they get on him for missing sixty out of four thousand votes in the Illinois legislature but fail to mention that the way the rules are written there, missing votes is sometimes used as a legislative tactic.

I had decided even when Richardson dropped out that Obama was my second choice, and I can clearly see a difference between him and Hillary Clinton. If nothing else, ask yourself this: Is there anything that Hillary Clinton has voted the right way on that Obama has voted the wrong way (or indicated that he would?) But there are plenty of instances (besides the Iraq war) where he has taken a different position than she has, and on all of them, I agree with the position he's had more than hers. The only area where I think she may be more progressive is that she has a better plan for health care (but he does focus on one area that others keep missing-- affordability; merely mandating that people buy health insurance is what Mitt Romney did, and the problems with that are quickly becoming apparent because of how many people still can't afford it.)

Ouch. Word verification: BYMYOS. Reminds me of another reason I don't want the Clintons back.

Eli Blake said...

Plus, I might also add that it's been less than a decade since Obama was not elected to anything. Not enough time yet for him to forget what it's like to be 'one of us.' And for sure, Michelle will yank him back to reality if he forgets, I've listened to interview with her and she knows what it is like to live in the real world a heck of a lot better than Bill does anymore.