:::this is the way the world ends:::

Clinton? Obama? Someone Else?

I’ll just let the title to this post say, and ask, it all.

13 Comments

  1. Shotts

    For myself, I’m leaning toward Hilary Clinton–though, honestly, there’s no one in the field of any party that truly EXCITES me. And after watching Clinton and Obama go at each other at the South Carolina Democratic debate on CNN on Monday, I have to say it’s less than inspiring. It made Edwards look like the composed, level-headed one. I suspect he is positioning himself at this point to be either Clinton’s or Obama’s Vice President, but maybe after the heat of the primaries, that really won’t be viable. Time will tell.

    I guess I lean to Clinton right now, somewhat reluctantly, because I think she and her experienced team will do the best job cleaning up after eight years of Bush. I think whoever takes office will have a lot of work, especially in the first couple of years, just to reset the stage, repeal unfair tax laws, draw back our military presence in Iraq and elsewhere, and reinstitute diplomacy globally. I think that’s going to take someone with more experience than Obama.

    I like the idea of Clinton setting a stage for a future campaign by Obama or Edwards or some as-of-yet unknown, who will take the country forward. I hate to seem backward-looking here, but I think our country is going to have to take some years to take stock of where we’ve been taken these last eight years and to recommit ourselves to ensuring justice and equality for our citizens (I’m thinking of health care and the current economic slump toward recession, including the housing and mortgage crisis) and a friendlier attitude to other countries in need.

    As for race and gender, since those questions have become–in many cases, unfortunately–a central part of the campaign, I don’t feel especially swayed either to or away from Obama or Clinton. It does strike me as probably more surprising that our country has not had a woman as President, considering that England has had a woman Prime Minister, as has India (the largest democracy on the planet), and at one time, briefly, Pakistan.

    It’s problematic to me to think of having a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton dynasty, but I guess I’d rather end that dynasty with a Clinton. A lot left to be seen in this race, of course, but that’s a little bit of where I am standing–today.

  2. Ned

    I think Edwards health care plan is better than either of the other dems.

    I haven’t seen a lot of the debates, but I’m not so sure that inexperience is a thing to be feared since politics in this country are so jammed up and staid right now anyway.

    The dynasty bothers the heck out of me. Obviously, more the Bush dynasty than the Clinton, but still. That has to look ridiculous from any hsitorical or outside viewpoint.

    I wish we would have had a woman president by now too, but it’s embarassing either way, since African Americans have been here for a long time as well, though, not teated fairly, arguably, to this day.

    Health care, education, international diplomacy, the environment, fair immigration laws, yes, there is so much at stake here. I’m not sure any of them are up to it either.

    I understand your statements about trying to fix things and understand how far we’ve sailed in the wrong direction. But I’m not sure that I like the idea of a clean up crew coming in to patch things up. I want a new ship.

    I won’t make any over wrought statements about moving to Canada, but if Romney gets in there…

  3. Shotts

    Great to have some conversation on this, early as it is, perhaps in the election process. Still, as Ned says, there’s a lot at stake.

    I’m not sure how Edwards’ health plan is that different from Clinton’s. My feeble understanding is that they are quite a bit the same. It’s Obama’s that doesn’t nod toward attempting a “universal” plan.

    I guess with the experience question, I would think Obama and Edwards would be more equipped in four or eight years. Neither truly has a lot of experience at a national, let alone international, level.

    Agreed about the dynasty issue.

    Agreed about the gender and race issue. Neither women nor African Americans are treated fairly in this country. So I don’t see it as a “contest” between the two possibilities. Though I suppose you could look at this in terms of numbers: there are more women in this country than there are African Americans. So perhaps it’s all the more glaring that we haven’t had a woman president. I’m uncomfortable with that kind of “number playing,” but throw it out there.

    I want a new ship too. But I do think we need to have a long-term view, and not pretend someone is going to come in and completely clear house.

  4. J.E.

    I am for Obama. There has been either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House since we were six years old.

    Not that my opinion (read as vote) matters on the subject. I’m pretty fed up with our wacky world of caucuses, primaries, delegates and electoral colleges.

    I will be interested to watch Kathleen Sebelius deliver the Democratic response to the State of the Union on Monday. Interestingly, Sebelius is expected to endorse Obama.

  5. Pete

    I would have to admit that I am probably amongst the most ill-informed here. That beign said, I think I favor Obama over Clinton. It has always felt that the pull to be in office outwieghed all else. I believe she is ambitous and that her ambition to make a mark on history doesn’t come from a genuine empathetic place. I admit that there is next to nothing to support that and don’t want to be flamed for the observation- I am merely commenting on my intuition. I do sometimes think that a lack of experience is a good thing. Hopefully, a lack of corruption. As for Sebelius, she is proposing an 18 percent cut on mental health monies in a field which has not had any increases in something like 15 years. Mental health centers such as the one I am working for are more often than not operating at a deficit at the current time. We cannot afford, nor can the clients we serve, to be cutting these funds. That is, unless we want those in need to be homeless and helpless again. While on the topic of politics- thoughts about the tax refund thing? My understanding is that the money will largely come out of food stamps and other social services. Sounds like a short-term solution to a long-term problem to me.

  6. J.E.

    Well, well, well. Looks like I’ll have to retract those comments concerning my vote. The Texas primary will matter after all. And Texas may see some presidential candidates for the first time in years!

    I still think the process is wacky though.

  7. Ned

    Clinton holds on to a small lead with several small states still in the mix, including Arizona, Florida, and Texas…

    At least with McCain pulling ahead for Republicans, I feel like we’ve avoided the worse case senario already.

    I wish Obama had plans for Universal health care, like Edwards and Clinton. Though I prefer Edwards emphasis on a state to state regulation, at least from the way I understood it summarized. I am somewhat afraid of a huge bureaucratic health care machine that is ineffective, but we simply have too many uninsured in this country and the rest of us pay way too much. I also wish WI could have passed their universal health care initiative earlier to work as a test for the rest of the country.

  8. Ned

    Democracy is the worse form of government, besides all the rest.
    – W. Churchill

  9. Shotts

    J.E.–I’ll be interested to see what transpires in Texas, now that the Democratic party will likely be split between Clinton and Obama all the way to the convention. I hope that long-term division through the primaries won’t have an overall negative effect for the national election in November. Meanwhile, McCain is taking control and could have many more weeks and months of gaining singular momentum for the Republicans. And there doesn’t seem to be a third-party candidate anywhere in sight. I think Washington State, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio will be huge in these next weeks. I’m for anything that invigorates the process, as long as it is actually invigorating the process.

    I completely agree with J.E. that the system of caucuses and primaries is, well, pretty much incomprehensible. Which is why some people say Obama is ahead and others say Clinton is ahead. I can see why many citizens feel disenfranchised when it comes to voting or becoming involved in the political process. Still, it was great to see quite a bit of energy at our local caucus last Tuesday.

    As for Peters’ comment about ambition: There’s no doubt that Clinton has ambition. I guess I don’t see Obama’s ambition as any less than hers, nor do I see it as any more or less genuine. Ambition is a given, at that level of politics, so I don’t see that as a tick in the con column. If anything, Clinton’s ambition has at least been long-term and incremental, over the course of being a lawyer, First Lady, Senator for two terms, and now presidential candidate. Obama, comparatively, is taking a much faster track.

    It struck me as funny, and not a little disingenuous, watching CNN and seeing Obama in Kansas–in El Dorado, I believe–waving to the crowd and starting his speech with “I’m home!” After his speech, the CNN pundits came on–Anderson Cooper or someone–and informed the viewer that Obama’s grandmother was from Kansas. And then they also said that it was Obama’s first time EVER in the state of Kansas. I realize it’s politics and a campaign, but it made me feel that Obama is no less calculated and certainly no more genuine than anyone else in the campaign. I think if “genuineness” was the main factor of the decision, Edwards probably would have been the better choice.

    I agree with Ned about McCain. Of all the viable choices left on the Republican side, at least McCain is a leader I can respect. I disagree with him vehemently about the war, for one among many things, but at least, if he should win election, I would respect our president. So I agree with Ned that perhaps the worst-case scenarios are behind us. Maybe I’m just trying to remain hopeful and optimistic.

  10. Shotts

    Just finished watching the Democratic debate between Clinton and Obama at the University of Texas at Austin, and was hoping to somehow spot J.E. and Liz in the audience. I’m curious if anyone caught the debate and what they thought, and of course, I’m curious what Ned’s experience was in Wisconsin with their recent primary and what J.E.’s experience is in Texas, with a lot of attention placed there in the next couple of weeks.

    As for me, I still feel more confident in Clinton. I don’t blame Obama for not agreeing to debate her in Wisconsin and some of the other states, because frankly she’s smarter than he is, more specific in her policies, and more experienced. I think she’s “won” every debate they’ve had, from the beginning. But, as we know, that’s enough to win a nomination, and probably never has been. The momentum seems to be with Obama, and I’m expecting things to go that way. I’m kind of surprised to find how sad I am about that. I think it may be because I do think Clinton is the better candidate and, for better or for worse, the Clintons have showed our generation how to be liberal thinkers and participants in government. My first presidential vote was for a Clinton. So was my second. My third was for a vice-president of a Clinton. There is something wrong about a dynasty, no question, but I also appreciate that the Clinton brand of Democratic liberalism has had a profound effect on my early years as an American. I guess I’m finding I’m more sentimental about that than I realized.

    It looks like Texas and Ohio will pretty much decide things in the next few weeks, so we’ll see. Otherwise, it’s all about the so-called Superdelegates, which seems yet another bizarre factor in the system.

  11. J.E.

    As I write this there is a huge Obama rally going on near the capitol. Liz and I lacked the energy to endure that sort of thing right now but I am none the less excited and have been checking the Austin American Statesman get the latest updates.

    Liz and I did watch the debate last night at a friend’s house who has CNN. It was a really exciting build up on campus. In my ten years at UT I’ve never seen so many political T-shirts and buttons sported by students or, more importantly, heard so many discussions about politics. Record breaking turn out for primaries can only be a good thing. Most of the students I know are Obama supporters.

    I don’t know whether Clinton is smarter than Obama or not, certainly she has more experience and perhaps more specific policies but at this stage in out country’s history I think those qualities are less important than making a clean break from the 20th century and no candidate can do that better than Obama. As you have alluded to the President must embody more than policies. The President is the first representative of our nation to the world. We have too long been represented by a buffoon and a patsy and though I understand the urge to go back to comfort zone of the Clinton years I believe that Obama has the qualities that can take our nation into the 21st century.

    Also, for what it’s worth, many polls seem to indicate that Obama will run stronger against McCain.

  12. Shotts

    Thanks, J.E. It sounds like an energetic scene in Texas, and probably in Austin in particular.

    I’m with you on all that you say here, and certainly agree that this close primary is bringing more Americans into the process. As you say, that can only be a good thing. That’s what I’m most trying to focus on.

    However, for all the people I know who are actively supporting Obama–and frankly, that’s most the people I know here in Minnesota–their support always seems centered around very vague notions of change, of breaking with the past. I’m all for that, but I just don’t hear anyone who supports Obama talk about specific policies that will benefit the country. I guess I’m a voter who needs more than a feeling but want to know what exactly that person stands for in terms of economic justice, health care reform, global diplomacy, and so on. It bothers me that many don’t see Clinton as a catalyst for change–when she is a woman (which is a huge change from…well the entire history of the Presidency), she wants to bring about historic health care reform, she would be deft at repealing the tax laws and other injustices of the Bush administration. She is about change, and there’s nothing comfortable about that. Only symbolically is she not about change. I recognize that symbols are important, but it still bothers me that many seem to be thinking almost only symbolically.

    Obama will really have to prove to me that he will be a good President. His lack of experience concerns me a great deal. I think McCain will run all over that fact, far more than Clinton has. And to be honest, I fear the possibility of assassination attempts on Obama if he is the nominee and then if he becomes President: there is still a lot of racial hatred in this country. I hate to think that way, but I know it’s something that many have talked about. So I’m not entirely convinced that Obama will run the best against McCain. I will certainly vote for Obama over McCain, no question, but Obama will have to really inspire me–and, I suspect, a lot of other Clinton supporters–in terms of being truly the best choice for President. One way I think he could do so is to select someone like Edwards for his running mate–someone who is very honest, plain-spoken, popular, and from the South. But we will see. Another way Obama could do that is convince me that his policies are specific, fair, and realistic.

    But again, I’m trying to focus on voter turnout, excitement, and energy, and that’s what inspires me–the people, more so than the candidates themselves.

  13. J.E.

    As you need to be inspired by Obama so I need to be inspired by Clinton.

    One of Obama’s big advantages is that he hasn’t betrayed me. When Clinton and most of the Democratic Senators went along with Iraq war they did so out of fear. They feared that if they did not vote for the war they would be unelectable next term. I understand that politics requires constant compromise and more often than not that leaves most parties unsatisfied, but the vote for war authorization has made it very difficult for her to win back the trust of many Democrats, myself included.

    As far as policy details I guess I have never put much stock into what presidential candidates say about what they’re going to to do as President — especially the specific details. The qualities of their personality are really more important than specific policies that their campaign puts forward as everything they accomplish must be done with congress. As to whether Clinton or Obama will be able to accomplish more with congress: I honestly don’t know. I think people more or less assume that Hillary will perform much like Bill and since Michelle hasn’t been President we really don’t know how Barak will perform. Voting for Obama is a bit of a risk but it is a risk I am willing to take. I just wonder if the Democratic Party is willing to take this risk.

    I do have to say that Obama’s messianic rock star status does worry me a little bit. What especially worries me though is that I seem to be supporting a front runner. I’ve never been in this position before.

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