Tuesday, February 12, 2008


My sense of what's going on in the Obama sweep is this.

First, there has been, without doubt, an incessant media assault on Hillary Clinton. Actually, truth to tell, it began 18 years ago, with Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, who haven't stopped the innuendo, baiting, negative characterization, insulting comparisons, questions of motive, and allegations of strong-arming. If this hasn't tinctured the environment, then why do we spend millions for television advertising? The commentators can hardly contain their glee that Clinton is trailing Obama tonight. Why should they? It's been a partisan rampage without any bigotry whatsoever, and they appear to be winning.

Second, Clinton fatigue. Even strong Clinton supporters aren't all enthusiastic about having to endure more sour and divisive media attacks on the President and First Gentleman.

Third, campaign style. Clinton just isn't a fascinating stump speaker.

Fourth, the Iraq occupation vote and the Iran vote.

Fifth, misogyny is alive and well. Behaviors that don't register so much as a grimace in male candidates are framed in the least flattering terms when seen in a female candidate. How much of this is true of the grassroots is a good question, but again, the influence of mainly male media commentators has to have had a negative effect. Then, too, men by and large do not support this female. I strongly doubt their view is entirely substantive. The probability is that they can't hack the prospect of a woman war president.

Sixth, this Democratic Congress has dragged Hillary down. It has capitulated, underperformed, chickened out, and altogether failed to stop the most disastrous presidency in US history. As a result, when the voters demand change, they don't just mean "from Republicans." Clinton and Obama are both senators, true, but only she is associated with a past Democratic administration. She has the misfortune of campaigning at a time when the country is fed up with old political faces.

Seventh, Obama is a brilliant candidate--an inspiring orator, a quick wit, an attractive presence, and a vigorous young man.

And eighth, and I believe this to be determining: the nation is desperate for a statesman or stateswoman, not a politician. Fatefully, for good or ill, Obama appears to fit that bill, but Hillary fits the other. Here her karma has caught her. All those careful centrist to Republican-Lite votes that enabled her candidacy threaten, ironically, to sink it. McCain's polling backs this up. Time and again, people say that they vote for him because they want a straight talker, a leader. That is he no such thing is beside the point. Perception is all, and what's winning this contest is the perception that we have a statesman on our hands in Barack Hussein Obama.

The hunger for leadership, however, is mirrored in this country by revulsion at the prospect of a progressive leader. We've known this since FDR at least, and we've seen how far that revulsion is prepared to go in JFK and Bobby. You will understand, and perhaps forgive me, if I say that I fear for him. Those who believe that Armaggeddon will usher in the Second Coming also see it as a political priority. This is a measure of their extremism and a pointer to the source of their fervor. If we thought the anti-Communists were formidable, the Christianists, Survivalists, Militiamen, the mercenaries, the race purists, the male supremacists, and the Dominion theologists will make them seem like guests at a bridge party.


Liana said...

OMG!!! You spoke the words about the fear for the statesman that I have been afraid to speak out loud lest it manifest!!!! All of our great orators have suffered at the hands of those in whom he has planted seeds of great fear that the people actually do rule. It is no consolation to me or anyone else I know that such persons were sanctified AFTER they fell, we need him NOW. We need a NEW New Deal, but Cheney's hunting weapon is still in his possession...