Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama Wins

The newspapers --except for the Pittsburgh Gazette, which is still fixated on ice hockey -- all led with news that Barak Obama has the delegates he needs to win the Democratic nomination for president. He has, for all intents and purposes, won the nomination.

I had believed all along that Clinton win. This wasn't sentiment as much as cold-blooded calculation that she had the stuff to do it.

I read a lot of speculation today about why Clinton won't concede. Much of it swirls around some perceived flaw in her psyche: she's in denial, she doesn't live in reality, she's too much of a crazy, shrill she-witch (not that that characterization is sexist!) to let go. But nobody has brought up an obvious thought that must be on her mind: Gore in 2000. He conceded, then unconceded, making him look the weaker candidate. And as a result, he was killed off by the Supreme Court. In fact, the Supreme Court --or a vote recount--may well have killed him off anyway, but his vacillation at a crucial point didn't help.

Clinton apparently doesn't have a lot to gain by conceding now. Maybe Obama and the Democrats need to offer her a good deal. She's got to know she can deliver a big constituency that Obama needs. Why wouldn't she hold out for a deal?

Several things have bemused me about this campaign. The first is why Clinton is relentlessly attacked as "ambitious." Shouldn't it go without saying that anybody who runs for ... President ... is ambitious? President of the United States? Most powerful position in the world? Were the other candidates all shrinking violets dragged to the podium or selfless altruists in quest of marytrdom? Hhmmm. None that I can think of. Obama isn't ambitious? McCain isn't? Guiliani wasn't? Edwards? Yet why is this word always hurled at Clinton as some sort of accusation? It's hard not to see this as (unconscious) sexism, some sort of deep-seated belief that woman shouldn't dare to compete-- and that a woman who does should be taken down simply for the pure fact of having ambition.

Second, and related, is the idea that Clinton ran an opportunistic, win-at-all-costs campaign. That's what people do. Why single her out? Plus, what if she truly, at the bottom of her heart, and all through and through, believes she is the best candidate to run the country? What if it's less, to her mind, about grabbing the presidency, and more about a frustrated knowledge that she could do a good job at fixing the country's problems ... if only people would put her in the position that would give her a chance?

Third, she's attacked for not being a good team member, vis-a-vis the Democratic Party. But surely she must know that few woman have gotten anywhere by playing by the rules. In a man's world, she has to be expected to make her own way.

I will support Obama in the fall election. But I do worry about his lack of experience. And I wish he would do more to reach out to women.

1 comment:

Bill Samuel said...

Reportedly she will concede later this week. Since Obama has the delegates he needs, Clinton is not in a position to deal. She could only threaten to try to torpedo Obama if he doesn't offer her the VP position or do something else she wants. This would only make her look bad, and I think it's clear from what's she's already said that she won't go that route.

It is particularly hard to concede when you come close. This is what happened with the Clinton campaign, which won most of the big states and could still win a primary victory on the last day of the season.

I think going on when you're $20 million in debt with really no way to win does look foolish. She could do it really only because the Clintons are now filthy rich - a wealth they got by trading on politics, which is not unusual but makes one wonder just how far the U.S. is from the classic kleptocracies. It looks a lot cleaner, but how really different is it?

With the filtering of information by the main stream media on behalf of the powers that be, the manipulation of the electoral process to protect the two militarist, corporatist parties, etc., it seems the USA is yet another country that has the trappings of democracy but not the reality of it. Because it allows competition among politicians within a very narrow political spectrum (such as must be militarist - note that McCain, Clinton and Obama all have virtually identical positions on military spending, which is the same as the current administration), it looks better than the countries which have the trappings but control it for one candidate or party, but there's a lot illusory about it being better.