Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Politics: Obama's momentum

Sen. Hillary (Rodham) Clinton -- or her perpetually reinvented political persona -- thought that she had a lock on the Democratic nomination. She thought she had the seniority. She thought she had the clout. She thought she had the "solutions." She thought she had the rhetoric. She thought she had the momentum. Then her husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton, began putting his foot in the ring -- and instead of giving Hillary the benefit of the doubt, voters began to remember -- or wonder -- or realize -- what Billary for President might mean.

Bill clearly could and would not keep his finger out of the presidential pie. He was shaking his finger at America just as stridently as Hillary would later chastise Obama ("Shame on you") for "plagiarism" after he delivered a stump speech he cowrote with one of his closest supporters. (At the same time, she was lifting "I am a fighter" and other language directly from former trailing candidate John Edwards.) We remembered that Bill and Hillary are the consummate old-school politicians: They will say or do whatever it takes to gain a political advantage. We remembered (and chafed) at their whiny tones and posturing, particularly when they feel they might not be handed on a silver platter the political dynasty they feel they deserve after "putting in the dues."

We remembered that this election is about changing the course that politics in this nation have taken for the past eight years: the promises of bipartisan cooperation turned to divisive political hackery, the vested interests, the lies represented as truths, the stonewalling, the incompetence, the scandals, the corporate favoritism, and the thuggery of stealing from the poor to give to the rich. As a result, we will no longer treat politics as business-as-usual. We will no longer treat with lies. We demand integrity and statesmanship -- a consistent position and track record, not a revisionist one that changes its tune every day, with the promise of what is good for America and every citizen, not just the privileged few.

Hillary may not be able to admit it for as long as it took Al Gore to accept his presidential campaign loss, but she has been outorganized and outgunned -- not by louder or more damaging artillery, as she thinks "going negative" against Obama will neutralize him, but by the quiet and steady confidence -- and competence -- that Obama exudes. She is a breaker crashing on a firm precipice, only to run down ineffectually to rejoin the turbid waters. She has presented nearly two dozen versions of herself so far in this campaign, while he has presented but one: Integrity inspires hope. He has been unafraid to use the Internet and to appeal to the young. He has exemplified civility in the debate on the blogs and taken the high road against Hillary at all times. He is about the people, not the power. Hillary's latest tactic -- spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt -- is the final resort of the cowardly or desperate but, most importantly, the clueless about what the people really want.

I am personally pleased with the integrity of either John McCain or Mike Huckabee, but this editorial is about the momentum that Obama has displayed -- and, having inertia, a momentum that cannot be stopped cold by a Hillary win in one or two states. Mind you, neither McCain nor Obama should be seen as a juggernaut, since America's goal is not to pick a candidate and shut down voting as soon as possible. It is the American way to let every citizen have their vote. Candidates are not selected by polls and projections but by elections. Let everyone vote and count every vote. Let the people decide. Please, Hillary, no superdelegate manipulation, hear?

It will take even longer for Hillary to accept one final precept: It is possible that Barack Obama will be equal to or greater than the president that Bill Clinton should have been but never was.


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