Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Democratic Race

Hillary is suffering from front-runner syndrome: she's taking all the heat. She's standing up to it with strength and aplomb, so maybe that will catapult her into a win... or maybe it's a poor strategy based on her husband's success in taking a lot of hits early and becoming seemingly "teflon." It might backfire and leave her too scarred to continue. I heard a pundit recently refer to her as "a flawed candidate" as if she is heavily tarnished, and this seems to be a growing conventional wisdom.

(I keep saying this but I'll say it again: After we were hoodwinked on Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, it seems impossible that we could let ourselves be hoodwinked about another good Democratic candidate -- and yet we're letting it happen again with the lies and innuendo about Hillary. Is politics so partisan these days that we can never see things clearly - even in a primary? I'm not saying that there are no reasons to prefer another candidate over Hillary, but those reasons are invalid if they include sentiments that she's too "cold"; she's ugly; she's tainted by having a husband who had affairs; or she's a hypocrite because she changes her clothes or hair-do. There are also untrue claims that she supports the war in Iraq, is in the pockets of the lobbyists, and does not support universal health care. (If you read the comments on political columns on the Huffington Post or Washington Post web site, that about sums up opposition to Hillary.) If you're a Democrat and you oppose Hillary, then do some honest thinking and let us know what valid reasons you have for opposing her.)

And yet I can't ignore Obama's low negative ratings. I don't think you can just pass it off to being a newcomer with a brief public record. When there's an issue I'm puzzled by, I want to hear what Obama has to say. There's one thing that bothers me about Obama: sometimes when he's answering a question he has a little hint of a grin like he's about to stop mid-sentence and say, "Aw, I'm just kidding." Maybe they're all thinking that and the others just hide it better.

Edwards, in third place, is free to ignore the two frontrunners and take on the Right. He has taken on Anne Coulter, Fox News, the current administration, and probably a lot more that I haven't followed. He has got himself in the news by doing this and generated a lot of controversy (and criticism). I'm listening to the George Stephanopoulis Democratic primary debate as I write this, and Edwards has just entered a debate about how to end the war in Iraq by saying, "Any Democratic president will end the war in Iraq." He is taking an interestingly unifying role. He is also speaking out quite bravely to stand up for progressive issues like regulations that help citizens. I'm glad he's taking this course because it all needs to be said at this high level, but I'm not sure what his game is. Another run at VP? Staying out of the fray because his only hope is to have Hillary and Obama implode? Trying on something new because he doesn't want to just repeat the campaign of 2004? Or is it not pure strategy... perhaps in this, his second run at presidential candidate, with a wife whose cancer has returned, he is doing a Bullworth and using his candidate status to say what he thinks needs to be said. I'm not convinced that Edwards is the best candidate for president but I'm impressed as hell by him.

As to the other five candidates, all of whom are at 2% or less (at least in this Iowa debate), I'm puzzled. They are so vigilantly negative: a bunch of old men who want to tear down the system for their own political benefit. I wish they would go away.

And finally, the flies. I know Iowa is an agricultural state, but it's freaky watching the candidates try to ignore the flies that are crawling all over their heads.


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