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Monthly Archives: February 2008

first of all, i’m surprised that clinton’s not campaigning in Vermont more seriously. i didn’t forget about VT, but i hadn’t been following any polling, and i assumed she would have a chance there. the iraq war vote thing, if that’s what’s bugging people there, was a problem for me at the time that she cast it until i heard her explanation at that time, which to my buddingly neoconservative views (sort of kidding…) made sense (at some point we have to stand behind the president and at least pretend to agree, so that his efforts will carry some weight…. that, to my recollection, was the gist of it, and i guess i bought into that too, because that was before we bombed iraq, and there was still the distant, faint glimmer of a hope that the UN resolutions and the support of countries like, i dunno, any of them, might have played a role in diffusing the situation. and the only reason anyone would want to diffuse the situation would be if they realized that the US was really gonna do it this time, and the only reason they’d think that would be if even the fairly liberal wing of the democratic party thought about signing on….. but then all this other stuff happened and now we look back at that vote and blame – i think – the wrong people. but the fact that clinton has failed to articulate that effectively enough, and failed to keep the focus of her campaign on the need to undo the damage of the bush administration will probably cost her the nomination, and my feelings about that are similar to the feelings of disappointment that i have around john edwards’ failure to convince even ME that he was serious about ending poverty in the US, and my continued frustration with the imbecilic john kerry at somehow failing to allow his actual war record to stand as a suitable defense against his made-up war record. the sad fact is that there’s only one howard dean, and even if he lacked some of the stature or experience or panache or even clarity around issues that we’re looking for today, he had something that i can only continue to describe as “electability,” and i have the serious concern that we will look back on this election from the vantage point of having lost in November and realize that by nominating a historical first — either a woman or a black man — we seriously eroded our ability to maintain focus on the primary issue, which should be rescuing the country from some weird faith-based totalitarianism.)
leave it to me to bury the lead. somewhere in that rant of a parenthetical thought lies evidence of what i’m calling — and i’ve coined this term, so far as i can tell — my “obivalence”. when obama announced on MTP more than a year ago that he was beginning to consider the possibility of thinking of planning to consider running for president, i was very excited about it. he seemed like a godsend, and i looked forward to a substantive candidate emerging…. since then, i have become increasingly unimpressed with him. he seems almost like a Democratic version of W — the kind of guy who can be portrayed as plainly and incorrectly by the far right as the far left portrays W (to call bush reactionary, a despot, a fascist — these may have some basis in reality. but to insist that he’s truly a buffoon is to inadvertently give him greater power, because while he might be a bit bumbling, he’s not stupid, and we have clearly been underestimating him for a long time, despite a TON of evidence that he’s as calculating as anyone could be, but i digress again). point is, W is a flat character, with no real depth, and that enables us to map onto him whatever we like (dems map bad things, rich fat people map good things, etc.). that’s where obama is, too. the lefty optimist in me sees jfk, rfk, carter, john lennon, etc etc in obama, because why not? he won’t say anything to dispel those long shadows, because they benefit him tremendously. but the right can overlay a similarly one-sided image-set on him — naif, pop star, teen idol, pin-up politician, etc etc. And since his strengths are the same as his weaknesses (just like W), there’s an “around and around we go” quality to this kind of dialogue, and i do not relish the idea of four or eight years of it.
that said, i’m not thrilled with clinton, and i miss edwards (or rather, my sense of what edwards could have been — in my wildest dreams, he would have actually SET UP his campaign headquarters in the upper ninth ward, where he announced his run. he would have bought a few houses to convert to HQ, he would have hired local new orleans kids to help set up shop around iowa and new hampshire, he would have held all of his policy announcements on the same front lawn down there, and would have conducted essentially a front-porch campaign. when he won — and he definitely would have won if he’d done this — he could have made new orleans his crawford, and allowed the upper ninth ward to become an international center of diplomacy, lobbying and power, generally, at least for a few weeks each summer or fall. that would have been a campaign of change and whatever, and i would have been very proud to have that kind of president, giving unprecedented access to power directly to the most disenfranchised population in this country. but oh well. at least he wasn’t derailed by something as stoopid as a directional microphone. that still hurts.)
 
i don’t like that supporters of obama have been given enough reason to detest clinton, which is my way of saying that obama supporters can’t be entirely blamed for being, sometimes, quite mean about their preference. i’m not sure this race was every truly hers to lose, but she has lost entirely the original message, which was methodical one, arguing against current administration policies. eyes on the prize was all she needed, in a way. 
 
but i can’t get fully behind obama. i’m sure he’s a great guy, and i do wish i knew him personally. but those aren’t reasons to vote for someone. this is the longest definition ever, but it is OBIVALENCE. 

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