Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Thoughts on the Democratic Primary

I've had this post bouncing around in my head for a while now, but have procrastinated in writing it for a long time. In fact since the election cycle got off to an unusually early start this time around, I could probably have posted most of this as earlier as 2 years ago. But now that the election is under-way in earnest, I thought I should post my thoughts before it becomes too late. Not that I have anything to say that hasn't already been said a million times by other commentators, but I just want to go on record with my opinion.

(Quick disclaimer: because of some of my more radical associations, whenever I write about an election I feel the need to explain why I'm not voting for a 3rd party candidate, or even participating in the electoral process at all. Since I've already explained this in previous posts, I'm not going to repeat myself here.)

This year things look very favorable for the Democrats. It's definitely their election to lose. Not that they can't blow it of course. By all rights they should have won in 2004. At that point it was already evident what a train wreck the Bush Presidency was, and the Democratic parties failure to win even in those conditions speaks volumes. For that matter they should have won in 2000. Bush was a terrible candidate who obviously knew nothing about world affairs, but the Democrats managed to lose to him. As Abbie Hoffman once said, the left has the profound ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Assuming the Democratic party doesn't completely blow it, and manages to ride the current good will into the White House (and this may be a big if), then one way or another it should be a very historic election. It looks like we'll either get our first black president, or our first woman president.

My sister told me years ago that according to her professors conventional politcal wisdom was that the first successful woman or minority candidate would be Republican. The reasoning being that progressives might vote against party loyalties just for the sake of having a female or minority president, whereas conservatives would not. It's a sound theory (and had Rice decided to run I'm sure she would have been a good test for it), but perhaps the Democrats might just have the honor of pulling off this historic marker first.

In fact, just for the fun of it, why not combine the two. Obama as President, Hillary as Vice-President. That would be an historic ticket I could really get excited about.

...I'd be slightly less enthusiastic about it the other way around. Mostly because I'm going to have a hard time forgiving Hillary for her 2003 vote in favor of the Iraq War.

I know she's tried to explain this away by saying she didn't have accurate information and that Bush pulled a fast one on congress (the same excuse John Kerry used in 2003), but come on! I knew this war was a bad idea even back in 2003. So did many of you. So did millions of people around the world who participated in the largest anti-war demonstration in history before the war even started. So did the leaders of France and Germany. So did Barack Obama for that matter. I know Bush and his cronies were lying their asses off in the lead up to the war, and I might (might!) excuse Joe Schmoe in his trailer park for being taken in by the rhetoric. But the future president of the United States?
And now she's got some nerve going around making campaign speeches about how she knows what it takes to be a leader, and she knows about leadership. Come on! Where was she when all of us on the anti-war side were looking desperately for someone in congress to take the lead against this war? Now she wants to be our leader?

(Okay, take a deep breath and calm down.)

Second reason why I'm wary about Hillary: she's just too much red meat for the right wing to go after. They love to hate her, and they're good at it. They've been hating her for years even before she had any sort of elected position or political power. If it weren't for Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh would probably have run out of material and been out of a job years ago.

And they've just been drooling waiting for her to run. They wanted her to run back in 2000. They were sure she would run in 2004. If you go back and read the right wing editorials from those periods they couldn't wait to slam her and she wasn't even a candidate.

If Hillary wins the Democratic primary, we can expect months and months of gleeful conservatives drudging up all their accumulated 16 years of dirt on her.
Obama, on the other hand, they've got nothing on, so they have to resort to cheap tricks (examples here) which I think will backfire on the Republicans and help Obama more than they hurt him. As a friend of mine once put it, "The Right wing is absolutely drooling at the idea of Hillary winning. They're shitting themselves at the prospect of an Obama victory."

(Of course none of this is Hillary's fault. It's not her fault that Rush Limbaugh is such an asshole. But then politics has never been fair. If politics were fair, ugly people or people who were terrible public speakers could be candidates.)

So, I'm really hoping that Obama beats out Hillary in the coming weeks. I'd take her as a VP happily, but for reasons expressed above I don't think she should lead the ticket.
However if Hillary wins, I'll still suck it up and vote for her, like I sucked it up and voted for Kerry. As Tom Tomorrow said, "I’ll support a potted plant against whichever race-baiting science-denying warmonger the Republicans finally settle on." But after 2004, when all of us who were againt the war had to suck in our pride and vote for Kerry, it would be nice if the Democratic party could give us a decent anti-war candidate.

Link of the Day
Conservative Myths and the Women Who Love Them

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