Friday, June 06, 2008

The Dream Ticket

Barack Obama becoming the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president is a wonderful historic moment of progress for the USA. If Hillary Clinton had won, it would have also been a great historic moment as she would have been the first woman nominated by a major party. In fact, at the start of the presidential campaign, I was convinced I would be happy with either outcome.

But now that the primaries have come to an end, I’m very relieved that Barack won and Hillary lost. In fact, please don’t count me in with the majority of Democratic Party members who think it would be a good idea to have Hillary for vice-president on a "dream ticket". Throughout the campaign, I’ve gradually lost a lot of respect for her. Let me count the ways:

  • Her negative politics – when Hillary started to fall behind in the delegate count, she pulled the unoriginal but somewhat effective “3 am. Ad” to appeal to voters’ fears. I would expect this kind of fear mongering from Karl Rove and the RNC but not from her.
  • Her disingenuousness – when Barack made ill-timed comments that some rural Pennsylvanians are bitter and clinging to guns and religion, Hillary jumped all over that opportunity to paint him as elitist and out-of-touch. She then went on to present herself as being a gun-toting, beer-swilling champion of the blue-collar masses. Come on now!
  • Her pandering - I was baffled when John McCain proposed a summer break from the gas tax. I was shocked when Hillary decided to endorse the idea. At least McCain has the excuse that he's a war buff who doesn't really get the economy.
  • Her playing the race card – in an interview with USA Today, regarding her overwhelming support in West Virginia, she cited an AP poll that “Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me. There's a pattern emerging here." This clumsy statement was intended to convince super delegates that she had a broader base than Barack to win the general election. Thankfully, it had the opposite effect and even drew criticism from some of her own supporters.
  • Her incompetent campaign – when the primary season started, Hillary was the overwhelming favorite with a significant lead in super delegate supporters, funding and polling. The fact that Barack was able to lap her in fundraising to the point she had to lend money to her campaign does speak to the impressive grass-roots campaign Barack has run but also demonstrates how poorly her campaign was managed.
  • Her graceless exit – she passed up the opportunity to make amends by conceding after the Montana and South Dakota primaries. Instead, she adding more salt to the wounds by making the ridiculous statement of wanting to hear from her supporters (was she considering running as an independent or storming the Denver convention?) taking away some of the luster from what should have been Barack’s triumphant night. Michael Tomasky of the Guardian described her speech as “the most abrasive, self-absorbed, selfish, delusional, emasculating and extortionate political speech I've heard in a long time. And I've left out some adjectives, just to be polite.” Well said.

I also believe having Hillary on the ticket weakens Barack’s argument to change politics as we know it. She’s especially a liability when it comes to the issue of the Iraq war, a war she voted for, and a vote she has been unwilling to acknowledge was a mistake. Of course I would vote for an Obama/Clinton ticket but I sincerely hope he’ll find a much better running-mate.

1 comment:

Julian Sinai said...

Hugh, nice post! I agree with all your points although I would have made them a bit more kindly :)

I am conflicted about whether Hillary would make a good pick for VP. On the one hand not picking her is a clean break with the past. On the other hand, she lends name recognition to the ticket.

Two things I worry about for the rest of the campaign: a "swift boat" attack from left field, and Obama's populist economic policies regarding protecting jobs, farm subsidies, etc. I believe in social welfare like universal health care, but otherwise I am a fiscal conservative.