Sunday, February 24, 2008

Senator Clinton, Are You Okay?

These are disappointing days in the Democratic Party. For a good deal of our primary season we'd been treated to an inspiring campaign between Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama, and former Senator John Edwards. The issues took the forefront. The rhetoric ranged from detailed to inspirational to provocative and it appeared as though the next President of the United States would be elected from the Democratic Party in a swell of enthusiasm unbridled by the contentious and often far too negative tone of recent political battles. That's certainly what we'd all hoped for.

John Edwards, in his inimitable populist way, backed out of the race in front of a rebuilding New Orleans with words of inspiration and hope for the people who were still rebuilding a shattered life in the Crescent City. His courageous participation in the campaign was marked by a remarkable dedication for country and family, as his ailing wife stood by his side as much as she could during the long hard months of rallies and speeches.

The lowlights of the campaign were few and generally unremarkable. Bill Clinton's outbursts and his unseemly characterization of Barack Obama in South Carolina were among the worst offenses, but his wife, not he, is running for the highest office and I suppose we can leave his odd behavior in the wings to focus on the excitement surrounding the remaining two statespeople after all. The tone has been upbeat, but sometimes harsh. The words have been strong and sometimes biting, but the dignity of the race was largely maintained. That is, until the last few days in Texas and Ohio.

Barack Obama isn't the rousing orator he appears to be on all occasions. Certainly, he and his people understand the rough and tumble game of election campaigns as they exist on the ground. Where there are few real differences, one must cherry pick perceived flaws in an opponent and target them as much as possible. This strategy is not without large risks, as one wrong move might provoke a backlash. In a campaign as relatively clean as this Democratic run for the White House has been, the recent appearance by Hillary Clinton in Ohio to decry campaign flyers accusing her of various unpopular things may be well founded. Perhaps the Obama campaign misrepresented her positions in order to pander to an undecided electorate. If so, it's not unprecedented, although we are certainly within our rights to wave a finger at him. Keeping it clean is a commitment we would all like to see as Democrats. The manner in which Senator Clinton decided to voice her displeasure, however, was puzzling. By now you've seen it, I'm sure. "Shame on you Barack Obama!"

The apparent anger is puzzling, given the fact that the flyers had been distributed for quite some time already and certainly her campaign must have known about them prior to that day. It seems as though the stress of an unexpected position in the polls may be getting to her and her campaign. It was barely hours before that she's talked about the honor she felt at sharing the stage with Obama and shook his hand in a show of good sportsmanship. There's something terribly schizophrenic about the juxtaposition of those moments, but it doesn't end there. Clinton seems to have drifted further over the deep end with an odd mockery of Obama in this speech:

I'm just not sure what to make of that clip. Where did the "honor" go, and where did the sentiment of that debate moment in Texas go? I'd said all along that while I supported Obama and hoped he'd secure the nomination that Hillary Clinton would be a wonderful alternative and an inspiring story herself. I looked forward to casting a vote for a candidate that understood what it meant to compete in the most dignified and honorable fashion possible. That's the dream of any American as fed up with the humiliation of being represented by the people in the Bush Administration for 7+ years. I'm questioning those feelings a lot these days. Even if Clinton can stage an astounding comeback in this primary contest, I'm not sure how much I'll be voting FOR her now. I will most certainly be voting against John McCain, but my feeling of excitement about my choice this year is waning. Is Hillary Clinton conducting herself in a presidential manner? Is this how she's going to appear in public if things aren't going her way as president. I just don't know anymore.

1 comment:

mike's spot said...

You watch- You think the Dem campaign is running smoothly? I'm betting on a big smear run that involves Obama and the Mob soon. . . .maybe not for primaries but he'll catch hell in the general election. The rumor mill i heard it on says they are going to drudge up something to do with his prior political career and look for an association with unsavory characters. . .(a new one in politics for sure)