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Monday, February 25, 2008

Thank You, Hillary

Hillary and Bill seem intent on doing something that no Republican has ever been able to do: kill off the odd nostalgia for the Clinton White House.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe accused the Clinton campaign Monday of “shameful offensive fear-mongering” by circulating a photo as an attempted smear.

Plouffe was reacting to a banner headline on the Drudge Report saying that aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) had e-mailed a photo calling attention to the African roots of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

“The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat front-runner dressed as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya,” the Drudge Report said. The photo created huge buzz in political circles and immediately became known as “the ‘dressed’ photo,” reflecting the Drudge terminology.

And, yes, I do believe that it was Clinton staffers who pushed the photo; and, yes, I do believe that they would have done so intent on taking advantage of fears from some Americans that Obama is more African than American or secretly Muslim. While finding ways to maintain deniability, that is exactly the kind of thing that typified Clinton political maneuvers during those presidential years.

After this kind of thing, you’d have to believe that people are starting to remember the divisiveness and nasty politics that came with the Clinton machine--and realize that the machine was a function of Bill and Hillary, not merely Bill acting alone. I had thought of pimping a bit for Hillary over the coming weeks, still believing (regardless of what my good friend, Jerry, has said) that Hillary would be an easier target for McCain. And I still believe that if a Democrat should be in the White House, a Clinton presidency would be less damaging than an Obama presidency.

But here’s the rub: he’s the better person. I can’t spend energy pushing the candidacy of a woman who I find increasingly abhorrent even though I think her policies will be closer to my own (by a fairly small margin in most cases) than her opponent.

I don’t want to see Obama in the White House, but I really don’t want another four years of the Clintons, either. This isn’t about the extra-changiness of Obama; it’s about the complete ethical bankruptcy of the Clintons. I have a feeling that more and more people will defect from the Clinton camp as they remember the reality of 1992 - 2000.

Obama is a decent man and he’s run a clean campaign. I’ll fight tooth-and-nail against his policies, but at least he would be a dignified force in the White House. I doubt that he would be a candidate for impeachment or special bimbo eruption squads of handlers designated to quell news of his indiscretions or assassinate the character of his opponents. I’m sure that he’ll play hardball--anyone who makes it to the White House has to know how to play politics a little rough--but not in the scheming, ruthless manner of the Clintons.

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If I may make a football analogy:
The Clintons are like a player from University of Miami: you know what you are going to get: a great political player, but a thug.  They’ll make political decisions exactly in line with what you’d think: triangulating to maximize political and public support, but generally along the Democrat lines.  You know you aren’t going to get soaring oration.  You know you aren’t going to get inspired leadership.  You know you aren’t going to get decisions based on principles.  You know that you are going to get a finger (wagging) in the wind to test its direction, and then a frenzied attempt to get in front of public opinion, and ruthless defamation of anyone who criticizes or otherwise takes any action that the Clintons feel may reduce their power.  It’s all about power, money, and legacy with the Clintons.  Just as it is almost always about personal aggrandization from a U of Miami player.  (apologies to any U of Miami player who doesn’t fit this description).

But Obama is like the Division II (or Division III) standout.  He’s done some amazing things against amazingly inferior opponents.  He has the measurables to dominate in the NFL (or world political stage).  But will he?  He entered the national stage as a 7th round draft pick (sort of), and in training camp, he’s continued to tear it up...but only against other 3rd-stringers.  Is he ready to be a pro-bowler?  Or will he bust?

We don’t know.

With Obama, his ability to be a good President will depend on the quality of people he surrounds himself with.  The Clintons were never really good at that.  They surrounded themselves with toadies and button-men.  George W. Bush surrounded himself with competent advisors and, despite what you hear from the half of the country with BDS, did a fairly decent job in everything except PR.  For a non-politico whose only experience was being a governer in Texas, he did a credible job as leader of the most powerful nation on this earth.  Far better than Jimmy Carter, at the very least.  Obama has that ability to rise above himself...if he surrounds himself with people who don’t buy into the Messiah hype and take the pains to actually give him competent, good advice.  And as long as Obama himself doesn’t buy into the hype, just like a football player gets fat and lazy when he believes his own press…

So the choice is between a brutal, thuggish player whose abilities are well-known (minimum abilities assured, but little upside) and a relative unknown who could be an All-Pro or the next Ryan Leaf (Jimmy Carter).

So I’m not unhappy with Obama vs. McCain.  If McCain chews him up and spits him out: great!  We’ve got The Maverick in the office who will at least push some GOP concerns, and should resist the Democratic Party’s headlong rush towards a socialist police state.  Or we’ve got Obama, who will highlight the ideological bankruptcy of socialistic government, or will at least (at the very worst) avoid repeating the disgrace the Clintons would bring to the White House along with their other baggage.

on Feb 25 2008 @ 10:46 AM
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