Posted by: Randy Allgaier | March 5, 2008

The Primaries- Fear v. Hope


As I have written in the past, I am a supporter of Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nominee for President. I was in DC at the time of the Potomac primaries and the excitement was palpable. Unfortunately I brought home a gift from DC- a bad flu that turned to pneumonia- so I haven’t been blogging for a few weeks. But this gave me an opportunity to think thoughtfully about what is going on with the Presidential race.

I have also said in the past that I like Senator Clinton and should she be the nominee, I would support her. Now, I’m not sure. I would never vote for Senator McCain (Let’s stay in Iraq for 100 years and I learned all I know about economics by reading Alan Greenspan’s book)- so I might vote for some third party candidate should Senator Clinton actually win the nomination- time will tell.

Since the 2000 election I have had great disappointment in the American people. It seemed that the majority of Americans- Democrat and Republican alike- bought into the fear mongering of the Bush administration. It disgusted me to watch Bush, Cheney & Company use fear as a political tool to bludgeon the citizenry. I am equally appalled by Mr. Bush’s fear mongering over the FAISA bill. Mr. Bush has said that the Democrats blocking the immunity to the telecom industry for anything that they may have done in support of the administration’s eavesdropping that could result in a lawsuit is making us less safe. Well- it seems to me that Mr. Bush is the one who is “putting the nation at risk” if he is willing to block the bill just to protect the telecom industry. Of course I think that the whole notion of not needing to get a warrant from the FAISA Court is absurd. While we live in a dangerous world- it isn’t the world of Jack Bauer and “24” and when we sacrifice our principles and our laws- the terrorists have succeeded; we have adopted their tactics.

When I saw a movement towards a new political paradigm – one of hope, empowering the American people and creating a new way of conducting politics- I was drawn out of my cynicism and thought that the American had finally woke up. I still have that hope and I still feel that Mr. Obama will ultimately prevail in obtaining the Democratic nomination.

I will admit that Mr. Obama needs to allow the press to grill him about Tony Rezko and the recent meeting one of his advisors had with a Canadian diplomat where reportedly NAFTA was discussed.

However- Mrs. Clinton has used tactics that are abhorrent. I should amend that to say the Clintons have used abhorrent tactics.

It started in South Carolina. President Clinton casually dismissed Mr. Obama’s win with a flippant remark that Jesse Jackson had also won South Carolina when he ran for President. Mr. Clinton is an astute politician and knows exactly how to choose his words. After all- he is the one who said “It depends on what your definition of is, is.” He is also a politician from the South and he is completely aware of what signals are sent by certain words and phrases. Describing Mr. Obama’s campaign as equivalent to Rev. Jackson’s campaign – was purposely meant to marginalize Mr. Obama as the “black candidate”.
The Clintons have distorted much of Mr. Obama’s record and have dismissed him as an upstart who should be relegated to the children’s table. Mr. Obama has a long and distinguished career- most admirably his work doing community organizing in inner city Chicago.

Mrs. Clinton continues to say that she would be ready on Day 1 to be Commander in Chief. Oh Really? Most of Mrs. Clinton’s 35 years of experience which she regularly claims is that of First Lady of Arkansas and First Lady of the United States. She wasn’t in any policy position. She was given one policy project by President Clinton- healthcare and she colossally blew that. It seems rather odd to me that this ardent feminist really has hooked her star to her husband’s career- not her own. Mrs. Clinton has less experience in elected office than Mr. Obama. So what is all of this “experience” all about? In essence Mrs. Clinton is running on her husbands coattails. During this bleak economic time she wants to remind people of the excellent economy that boomed during President Clinton’s administration. She has no claim to that success.

Mrs. Clinton dared to claim a flyer that Mr. Obama’s campaign put out as “right out of Karl Rove’s playbook”. Well it seems to me that Mrs. Clinton learned more from Rove than anyone.

Her infamous “3 AM commercial” was pure unadulterated fear mongering. Sadly it seems to have worked in Ohio. So are we back to fear motivating the American people rather than hope and the possibility of a paradigm shift in the way that we do politics? I remember an article I read by Michael Kinsley in the New York Times some months ago where he posited that Americans think that they want change- but really at the core- they don’t want to make the sacrifices and do the work that would be required for real change. I hope Mr. Kinsley is wrong- I hope the country truly wants hope and change rather than the status quo and the politics of fear.

Mrs. Clinton’s most egregious statement was when she said that she and Senator McCain had a lifetime of experience and Mr. Obama had a speech. Not only was this patently untrue, but she broke a cardinal rule. President Reagan once said that “Thou shall not speak negatively of a fellow Republican.” Not only did Mrs. Clinton speak negatively about Mr. Obama but she elevated the Republican presumptive nominee over her Democratic opponent.

It makes me wonder- what is Mrs. Clinton’s real priority. Is this race about ensuring that the Democrats take the White House so we don’t have a third term of a “Bush” administration or is it just about the Clintons?

Mrs. Clinton is playing dirty pool and politics as usual. Mr. Obama has attempted to remain above the fray as much as possible, occasionally being dragged into the mud by Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton has continued to change the rules. In Nevada, when everyone had agreed to casinos being caucus sites in order to accommodate casino workers Mrs. Clinton suddenly found it unfair once the union representing many of these workers endorsed Mr. Obama. Everyone agreed that Michigan and Florida primaries would not count due to a violation in their calendaring their primaries. While I think it is disastrous not to have these two states have someway to participate and I think that there may be a solution being considered- the primaries that occurred nevertheless should not count. Now Mrs. Clinton wants them to count. And of course there is the whole super delegate debacle which I won’t even address now.

Mrs. Clinton’s remarks about Mr. Obama not being a Muslim “as far as she knows” were also reprehensible. Mrs. Clinton is a smart lawyer – and lawyers know how to use language deftly. She can’t be accused of promoting this myth, but she also left room to let the myth hang out there. That’s perfect lawyering.

I have one final question. Mrs. Clinton seems to suddenly denigrate college educated smart people- a base for Mr. Obama. Don’t you think that smart well educated people make thoughtful and good choices? Mrs. Clinton said she wants to be the President for people who really need a President. Well- I am well educated, I researched the candidates’ positions and thought carefully about what each candidate had to offer. Is Mrs. Clinton saying that I don’t need a President? I thought all Americans need a President.

I truly hope that Mr. Obama’s message of hope and a change in the way politics is done prevails. I would be crestfallen if this nation once again reacts to fear- be it by Mrs. Clinton or Mr. McCain. We can be better than the politics of fear a partisan bickering. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain represent the status quo, Mr. Obama represents something new, but also something that will require the nation to move from its complacency.

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