Monday, February 25, 2008

Oh, the hypocrisy!

The charge often levied against Obama-supporters by Clinton-backers is – “You hypocrites! You, so-called “progressive” Democrats, can’t stand a woman becoming President, and would rather vote for a man with a slim resume!”

Undoubtedly, there are men (and maybe some women) voting for candidates-other-than-Senator Clinton because of gender bias. There is also some of that with folks not voting for Senator Obama because he’s Black.

But to cast the entire lot of Obama-followers as male chauvinist pigs is surely an exaggeration? This characterization overlooks the many faults of Senator Clinton and the campaign she has run. I have listed the reasons why I moved away from supporting Senator Clinton, even though I feel it is high time the USA had a woman President. I might even make a claim that I can out-feminist (!) Robin Morgan, since she railed against the lack of female commentators on political talk shows, but I have pointed out that the problem really is the total lack of female hosts on said talk shows, which she did not appear to observe! Yet, I would be classified as a bad old MCP!

In addition to my list, there are other problems with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton – these may or may not be her fault, including the fact that half the country dislikes the ClintonS. President Clinton did lie about his relations with Monica Lewinsky, and may have about numerous affairs he had earlier. The moral character of a President has come into sharper focus, particularly with the rise of the Christian Right; in a previous era, nobody would have cared about President Clinton’s private affairs (see Kennedy, John F.; and Harding, Warren G.). But now enough people do, and like it or not, Senator Clinton carries that baggage with her, in addition to "mixed blessings" like NAFTA, packaged with the glories of the Clinton-42 era. That makes some people worry about her electability, particularly against someone like Senator McCain; some Democrats may not vote for her due to resentment over NAFTA. Note that this has nothing to do with Senator Clinton being A Woman. And yet, these same folks would be called anti-women!

How would Clinton supporters feel if they were called racist and anti-African American for not supporting Senator Obama? That charge could very well be made; after all, Senator Obama has been elected to public office more often than Senator Clinton. He has a decent track record of legislative accomplishments; the advantage Senator Clinton holds, if any, is because she has been around longer, including her stints as First Lady with the powers and influence associated with that position, not because Senator Obama was not active. Some of Senator Obama's positions on foreign policy and the "war on terror" appear to have the approval of Senator Joe Biden, the resident Democratic expert on foreign policy. The Obama health care plan may - initially - leave more people uninsured than the Clinton plan, but may be more acceptable to a broader audience, and thus, more likely to become reality. Overall, the Obama and Clinton policy proposals are pretty much the same – except perhaps the fact that Senator Obama does not explicitly state his support for abortion rights, and puts Women’s issues under “Civil rights” rather than as a separate category by themselves, as Senator Clinton does.

But recently, pro-life Democrats like Colorado Governor Bill Ritter have been elected; apparently, a pro-life Democrat need not be actively anti-abortion rights. Senator Obama has not explicitly stated that he is pro-life either; in fact, his Illinois record shows quite a few votes against anti-abortion rights legislation. But in any case, it appears that it is OK for a pro-life White person like Governor Ritter to be elected on a Democratic ticket, just not OK for a Black person to be nominated by the Democratic Party because he appears to waffle on abortion rights, even if he is not pro-life and has received a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. [I know the issue is more complicated - women's rights are not just about abortion; but it is the most bandied-about example.]

So – how would Clinton supporters feel to be called racist bigots, just because they refuse to support Senator Obama if he were to become the Democratic nominee?

In the end, if a progressive agenda is to be implemented, the supporters of Senators Obama and Clinton have to come together; otherwise they risk not gaining anything at all! A prominent example is provided by the extreme leftists who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000; even though I think Al Gore’s loss was due to Al Gore, it is very possible that there were at least 538 leftists out of the 97000+ who voted for Nader in Florida that could have voted for Al Gore. It is well-known how the succeeding years have turned out, in critical fields such as education, health care, emergency response (we have Mayor Giuliani to thank for the 9/11 response), and, as I am told, women’s rights. The country will survive, as good democracies inevitably do; but would one rather not have the country thrive? So – no matter who the Democratic nominee is – a unified front is essential.

P.S. The more I think about it, the more I feel an Obama/Clinton ticket will be the only reasonable solution this election cycle. If the delegates were split 2600-1300, the nominee would be clear. But with a 1900-1700 split – as is likely – how do you realistically choose one over the other? It appears Senator Clinton is willing to ask Senator Obama to be the Vice-Presidential nominee, even if she doesn’t like it. However, would Senator Clinton be willing to fill the VP slot herself, if, as appears likely, Senator Obama has the delegate lead at the end of the nomination process?

P.P.S. SNL, on its return after the writer’s strike, had a couple of good skits in-between the usual drivel. The opening act parodied the CNN debate, showing the hosts as in-the-tank for Senator Obama; the “weekend update” section had an excellent sketch with Governor Mike Huckabee overstaying his welcome and relying on (Democratic!) superdelegates to win the Republican nomination. Hilarious. But the sad part is – SNL could not find a competent Black comedian to play Senator Obama, relying instead on Fred Armisen in blackface. Despite the rich history of African-American comedians (see Rock, Chris; Murphy, Eddie; and others), all SNL has is the stereotypical Fat Black Guy in Keenan Thomson. Plenty of White women, though, some even shilling openly for Senator Clinton. [UPDATE/SOURCE: The part about Keenan Thomson was inspired by Randolph Terrance's quote for Helena Andrews' column in Politico.]

No comments: