Can you indulge a stream of consciousness rant?
The lunatic fringe
This...is lunacy. There has been much talk about Obama and the cult of personality, but the behavior of some of Hillary Clinton's alleged supporters proves that the Senator from Illinois is not the only one who attracts blind devotion. (I say alleged, because I'm not so sure that some of these people aren't Republican operatives putting on a show.) There's no talking to folks like the unholy trinity who spoke to Chris Matthews on Monday and proclaimed Obama a "registered Muslim." But this woman, I want to shake and say: Clinton and Obama have nearly identical platforms, why must the Democratic candidate perform a song and dance to convince you get off your ass and vote. YOU, especially. People gave their lives less than 50 years ago (long after "women" had the right to vote) to get the government to recognize your right to participate in the democratic process. And your stupid ass is planning to stay home unless Barack Obama does...what? What do you want?
I hate the whole subtext of the PUMA argument, which seems at once gender and race biased. As I said in a previous post:
The course of Hillary Clinton's campaign makes me uncomfortable as a woman, who was raised by both of my parents to believe that I could do anything, but never told that, when competing in a male-dominated world, I should be treated with delicacy. And it makes me uncomfortable as an African American, because what I also see hiding behind the idea of Hillary Clinton as the wronged woman is privilege and entitlement. There is this idea that Clinton is owed the presidential spot. It is her time. Obama is just a potential affirmative action hire, unqualified and slick, poised to steal what is hers. Read more...
The hubris of the Clintons
So, Hillary Clinton gave a great speech last night. She positively shone. But did she give a speech that put the chosen candidate--Barack Obama--first? Gustogirl, a commenter on Daily Kos, nailed exactly what I thought about Hillary Clinton's much-vaunted speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver:
- She should have talked less about herself (and the Clintons) and more about Obama.
- Now was not the time to talk about her friendship with McCain.
- She should have taken this opportunity to refute the use of her statements against Obama in McCain ads.
- She should have addressed the judgment vs experience issue that she exploited and that the McCain campaign is now using her to exploit.
- She had the opportunity to separate herself from PUMA and didn't utilize it. At the very least, she should have addressed them directly and removed herself from their cause with a very direct statement.
- Her kind words toward Michelle were token. It was if she herself dismissed and denigrated the role of the First Lady because it wasn't enough for her. There was something dismissive in how she did it.
It seems that the former president's ring has not been kissed properly:
Some Democrats with high-level ties to both the Clinton and Obama camps said they were surprised that Obama has not done more to make the Clintons more enthusiastic about his candidacy.
Obama has taken the minimum public steps necessary to accommodate the Clintons, including giving them prime-time speaking spots.
But he has taken few of the extra steps that Clinton allies say would have gone miles toward fostering goodwill.
He did not work hard to help her retire her $24 million campaign debt.
He did not make a high-profile statement repudiating any suggestion that Bill Clinton played "the race card" in the nomination contest — an allegation that the former president considers grossly unfair and that continues to infuriate him.
Just as significant, Obama has maintained a certain cool diffidence toward the former president. They spoke by phone last week. But for weeks before that, associates said, Clinton had heard nothing and did not even know when he would be speaking at the convention. The Obama campaign's only communication was a form letter sent to all delegates.
Clinton loves to offer advice to fellow Democrats. But even in their conversations, Clinton friends say, Obama shows little deference or signs that he thinks Clinton, the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win two terms, has any special wisdom to offer.
Deference...the young, uppity Obama should be deferring to Bill and Hillary Clinton. THEY are what is important. Hillary's feelings. Bill's need to mentor young politicians. They're collective need to feel important. I have never witnessed a nation so concerned with the personal feelings of a losing primary candidate and a former president. When Al Gore obviously distanced himself from Bill Clinton in 2000--even choosing anti-Clinton conservative Dem Joe Lieberman as a running mate--did Bill lurk on the fringes of the Gore campaign making undermining statements? Was Bill Bradley owed closure in 2000? Did Bill himself defer to Jimmy Carter during his run for the White House? In 2004, Did John Kerry have to make sure that Howard Dean had appropriately recovered from his media flameout before moving forward with his campaign?
It is bizarre--this idea that the comfort of the Clintons and their supporters is more important that any positive platform, position or policy.
And then, folks "played the race card" on poor Bill. Politico reports in an article today:
Bill Clinton believes [Barack Obama], far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of "a Chicago thug," one longtime associate said. Read more...
Hmmm...no, no racial imagery there.
Know what this reminds me of? An interview that I did with my dad a year ago for a writing class. He said of growing up in Mississippi:
"Jim Crow was the law of land…In order to survive you just learned what to do and how to work within the system. We were taught when we went to a white person's house, to go to the side door. We were taught when you got on a bus, to go to the back. No matter how old you were, you called white men and women "Mr." or "Miss."
And here I thought that kind of deference wasn't expected of black people anymore.
The government we deserve
I've heard pundits say that given the last eight years, "If the Democrats can't convince the American public to vote for them, then..." (smirk). I've heard PUMAs warn that Barack Obama is going to have to convince them to vote for him in 70-odd days. I've heard Independents and Republicans whine that they just don't know who Barack Obama is. But the thing is, if you have been paying attention for the last eight years, no one should have to convince you that a vote for four more years of the same is the worst kind of folly. It takes but a cursory review of candidate Web sites and voting records that can be accessed online to understand at least the fundamentals about each person running. This isn't about the failures of the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign, this is about the failure of the American electorate.
I have this nagging feeling that we're about to screw up again. That in a time when our country is embroiled in war and the Bushies are trying desperately to start another one, in a time when 47 million people do not have health insurance, at a time when just one more conservative judge on the Supreme Court could impact the country for generations, at a time when our reputation around the world is broken, at a time when the country is on the brink of giving way to anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, fear-mongering and hatefulness--voters are going to bow to ego and infighting and distractions...again.
You know how people say that citizens get the government they deserve? I'm afraid that 51 percent of Americans actually will get the government they deserve and the rest of us will suffer for it.
Okay, I'm done being bitchy. How about some hope for a chaser: