Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Primary season? What a joke

Tom Tomorrow says what I've been thinking about this month:
Katha Pollitt:

[...]You can understand [Hillary Clinton's] obvious frustration with the ongoing lovefest for Obama: At one point she even compared his “likeability” to that of George W. Bush. In real life, Obama has made the same sort of compromises she herself has made. As she pointed out, he said he’d vote against the Patriot Act, and then he voted for it. He casts himself as the candidate who’d repair our bellicose relations with the world, and then talks about bombing Pakistan. He talks about putting Republicans in his cabinet, as Bill Clinton did. His health-care plan, as Paul Krugman points out every day on the New York Times op-ed page, is weaker than Clinton’s or Edwards’. I’m sure Hillary Clinton must be wondering what the difference is between “triangulation” and Obama’s calls for unity.

Somehow Hillary Clinton is stuck as the candidate who simultaneously represents excessive compromise and excessive partisanship. For various reasons, John Edwards, who actually represents the most substantive hope for change, seems in some ways a throwback to the old-fashioned class-based politics of the 1930s. Poor Richardson, who actually has the most experience of any candidate in either party, can’t get any traction at all. Obama, the black candidate who never mentions his race, gets to smile his mile-wide smile and be a rock star. Somehow he has made himself a great big humongous hope object. People can project on him what they want him to be.
I’ll support a potted plant against whichever race-baiting science-denying warmonger the Republicans finally settle on, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer a candidate who actually stands for things I care about, like real health care reform and a speedy end to the Iraq debacle. Given that Kucinich is — sorry — unlikely to carry the day, that leaves me with Edwards. Who is also probably not going to make it to the finish line. And then, hurray!, the Democrats will once again be offering up a mushy centrist who speaks vaguely of hope and change, of bipartisanship and reconciliation. Why is it always the Democrats who have to reconcile, after these spasms of right wing extremism? Why is partisanship always such a one-way street?
Sorry for the lengthy quotation. As an actual "progressive" or liberal, it's just hard to get worked up about the Democratic front runners. It looks like once again, the Democratic party will select a middle of the road, moderate presidential candidate that will offer little and will provide less, if they happen to get elected.

Bill Clinton is the last Democratic presidential candidate to be elected in the past 25 years. I loved Bill when I was a much younger person, and lots of Democrats continue to love him. He seems like a cool enough guy. The problem is, he didn't really do a lot for progressive issues. He caved to the Republicans on health care, he made it so homosexuals can serve in the military but only so long as they hide in the closet, and he bombed Iraq for questionable reasons. Granted, his Iraq bombings look great compared to Bush Mark II's invasion of the same country, but is that really something to hang our hat on?

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