I want John Edwards to win South Carolina.
This has been a deeply distressing week for progressives. We have three talented, brilliant, qualified and capable horses in this race, which should be cause for confidence and optimism. In terms of policies, there is hardly any "daylight," as the pundits put it, between the front-runners. We should be like Democrats in a candy store: we can only pick one, but all our potential choices are good ones. (The Republicans, on the other hand, are looking for champagne in a fertilizer store.)
Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton doesn't see it that way. Frustrated -- that was the term she used to describe Senator Obama -- and scared that she's actually facing some competition in this race, she resorted to political theater of the cheapest variety, grossly distorting her nearest challenger's record and taking fragments of his statements out of context and spinning them 180 degrees. Her claims have been reviewed by every news agency in the country and found totally lacking in merit: it's obvious Obama doesn't agree with Ronald Reagan; he was always against the Iraq war; he was counseled to vote "present" on the anti-abortion bill by Planned Parenthood; and while he's admitted to some minor errors in judgment regarding his relationship with Tony Rezko, it was nothing on the order of, say, the Giuliani-Kerik partnership. Mrs. Clinton is not one to be discussing minor errors in judgment, especially since she has yet to apologize for her Iraq vote.
Obama naturally had to respond to Clinton's distortions, but it was disappointing and unseemly of a man who has promised us a different kind of politics to include jabs of his own at the former First Lady. Granted, his have all been true, but the tone of back-and-forth one-upmanship was unhelpful and unflattering to both.
Senator Obama currently leads in the South Carolina polls, but there's a giant undecided vote floating around out there tonight: 36%, according to a report I heard on NPR while driving home tonight. I am hoping those votes go to John Edwards. Senators Clinton and Obama deserve to be sent a resounding message that we are tired of politics as usual and are hungry for someone to transcend the fray. Frankly, we have bigger concerns than whether Hillary once served on the board of Wal*Mart. Not that anyone should vote for Edwards merely to spite the so-called front-runners; he's a fine candidate in his own right, and is my dream choice for Attorney General in the next administration. (Can you imagine an anti-torture, pro-labor AG? Drool!)
Okay, let's talk about the elephant in the room: Race.
This same NPR report was dissecting the polls and discussing that Obama has 75% of black support in South Carolina, but only 10% of whites. The question posed to the pollster was [in my paraphrase], "Does that not bode well for his national chances, if he can only gain 10% of the white vote?"
Ay caramba. So, essentially, what we're asking here is: if Obama wins South Carolina, does it count because they're only black votes? And this coming from NPR!
Look, folks. This is South Carolina. This is the state that still has the confederate battle flag flying on the grounds of the capital. And we're supposed to extrapolate his 10% support among whites in South Carolina to divine his national chances? After he won 95% white Iowa and finished a strong second in 96% white New Hampshire?
The big issue is not whether one Democratic contender is right and the others are not; they're all on the same page. The question is, who is going to go to the ruins of Washington left by the Bush administration and put it back together in a new and better way? Let's hear fewer -- how about no! -- meaningless personal barbs and more concrete visions for fixing this country. Yes, wonkiness doesn't make for great TV but this in-fighting only helps the Republicans.
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I have been pondering lately whether I would be able to vote for Hillary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee, and I've decided yes, I'd have to. I think actually in many ways John McCain might make a fine president, but there are other matters at stake: there's the Supreme Court, there's the DOJ, and there's the war. I'm not a fan of Hillary, but none of the Republicans are capable of doing the right thing on any of those fronts. This country and this planet cannot afford a president who still thinks there's anything left to "win" in Iraq. We can't afford another right-wing ideologue nutjob on the court, and we need an AG who will actually bring accused terrorists to justice, rather than letting anonymous people rot untried in prison on the basis of a rogue president's authority alone.