(Another Obama-Clinton thread gone terribly wrong.)
Bob Somerby delivered a fantastic line today: "We got the phrase “kill the pig” from Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. We’ve often been told it’s a novel." I feel the same way about Animal Farm and The Crucible, actually (although The Crucible is at least based more directly on history). For that matter, Paddy Chayefsky stated that Network was not a satire, and I'd say Dr. Strangelove is barely one anymore. Regardless, there are times I feel as if I've been asked to grab my pitchfork, light a torch and join in a hearty chorus of "Die, heretic!" only to realize it's not a rally for impeachment or investigations after all.
It's been interesting to read candidate advocacy in the liberal blogosphere, especially since John Edwards dropped out. I've read plenty of posts by former supporters of Edwards (or other candidates) weighing Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama, as well as posts by people who were backing one of those two already. I've seen a wide range of emotion, from dismay to pragmatism to tepid approval to enthusiasm to furious dislike. The folks for and against Clinton and Obama really run the gamut, too, from the rational to the passionate to the rational and passionate to the pretty irrational. To be clear, there are meaningful differences between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and also completely legitimate reasons for supporting or opposing each. (There are quite a few good posts out there on all that, and I hope to link some within the week.) However, those differences pale when one views McCain, Bush and the GOP.
Thers at Whiskey Fire captures some of the madness in "A Contest Featuring Human Beings":
Your favorite candidate sucks.
My favorite candidate is the best.
I hope this argument has convinced you to overcome your personal deficiencies and start supporting my favorite candidate.
In conclusion, once again, your favorite candidate sucks.
See also Fade's "Friends, Liberals, Countrymen" and driftglass' "The Department of "Please Grow The Fuck Up" Asks". I'll add what I wrote in "That Damned Liberal Racism":
America could use much more good discussion on race, gender and, even more importantly, class and power. The problem is, our national public discourse is still managed by shallow pundits.
Nor do I see the point of the blogosphere repeating the worst sins of the MSM in this regard. (Good discussion is another matter, of course.)
It's important that we political junkies remember that, as dday points out, "Voters Like These Candidates":
This nugget from the CNN exit polls is an important point:There's no doubt Democrats are torn between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But the early exit polls show they are not bitterly divided: 72 percent of Democrats said they would be satisfied if Clinton won the party's nomination, while 71 percent say the same about Obama.
That's what I see when I talk to actual Democrats, particularly those who don't spend all their time on the Internet. Not only do Democrats like both candidates, not only do they think they are going to get to vote FOR someone instead of AGAINST the Republican this year, but the primary is improving that view. I don't think either of these two are saviors, which is why I think a movement that will hold them accountable is the most important thing (as disclosure, it is for this reason I voted for Obama today). As frightened as Democrats are about a brokered convention and hurt feelings, it should be known that these two candidates are overwhelmingly acceptable to Democrats, and a longer primary contest (which would wind up with a scant 7 or 8-month general election instead of 9), if it's played fair - and I think there's an overwhelming desire for it on both sides to keep it fair, considering how negative campaigning has generally turned out in this race - will actually put Democratic ideas in front of the electorate in very positive ways. That's what I see when I talk to actual Democrats, particularly those who don't spend all their time on the Internet. Not only do Democrats like both candidates, not only do they think they are going to get to vote FOR someone instead of AGAINST the Republican this year, but the primary is improving that view. I don't think either of these two are saviors, which is why I think a movement that will hold them accountable is the most important thing (as disclosure, it is for this reason I voted for Obama today). As frightened as Democrats are about a brokered convention and hurt feelings, it should be known that these two candidates are overwhelmingly acceptable to Democrats, and a longer primary contest (which would wind up with a scant 7 or 8-month general election instead of 9), if it's played fair - and I think there's an overwhelming desire for it on both sides to keep it fair, considering how negative campaigning has generally turned out in this race - will actually put Democratic ideas in front of the electorate in very positive ways.
Voter turnout for primaries and caucuses have been higher than usual, hitting historic records in some states, and the youth turnout rate is especially exciting. Democrats have been creaming the Republicans on the turnout front, sometimes 2-1 or better, and most Democrats will vote for the eventual nominee regardless of who it is.
There are those who will view the eventual Democratic nominee as merely the lesser of two evils, and I understand that general attitude. However, there are still huge differences between the two parties and their candidates, particularly on four glaring, important issues:
2. Judicial Appointments
3. The Economy
4. Health Care
With the GOP, there's also a greater chance of continued general cronyism, and a possible assault on reproductive freedom, which sort of falls under judicial appointments, but also entails agency appointments and other factors. A minimum wage increase, family leave and affordable child care (as one of my friends with a young kid just reminded me) also aren't likely under a Republican administration.
None of this is to say that the current Democratic leadership in Congress isn't awful. I'm very concerned about our current surveillance state and further pushes in that direction, regardless of who's in power. Still, while there are a handful of politicians I actually sorta like, I tend toward Brad of Sadly, No!'s view, that "When you start talking about politicians like they’re anything more than tools to be used to further goals, you’re setting yourself up to get horribly punk’d." The best politicians still need relentless scrutiny and the occasional kick in the ass.
In any case, examining Obama and Clinton certainly has it place, but it's also wise to turn our focus to the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain, who after all, is basically running as Bush.
(Cartoon by Bruce Beattie, 2/8/08 — click for a larger view.)
Buck, Questiongirl and Buck got the ball rolling for Valentine's Day. (There's also the infidelity rumor, but I'd like to see more confirmation, and the real issue for me is any lobbyist corruption angle.)
Crooks and Liars has provided "Countdown: John McCain’s Tortured Logic And Flip Flop On Torture," "John McCain — Panderer Extraordinaire," "Mr. Vague Generalities strikes again" and a roundup of three McCain critiques, "At What Price The Quest?"
One of my favorites to date is Digby's "Dumb As Posts," which summed up my reaction to one of McCain's recent inane statements perfectly:
Can someone explain to me why Republican presidential candidates are always saying completely brain dead things like this?SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not believe in mandates. I believe that every American should have affordable and available health care and I'd like to talk just an additional minute about that. But I'm not going to mandate that they do. I want every American to have affordable and available education. But I'm not going to mandate that they do.
Is he planning to dismantle the public school system?
It looks like we're going to have an instant replay of the memorable 2000 campaign where Junior kept saying things like "Down in Washington they're playing with social security like it's some kind of government program."
I think it's pretty clear that a majority of the American people have had enough of that.
Aaaahh, but don't forget our intrepid, vapid reporters! And they luuuuuvs them some McCain, as well as some White House talking points! Believe it or not, sane, supposedly intelligent adults actually think that
Iraq is McCain’s winning issue (it might help if they actually read one of their beloved polls on the topic) and have made excuses for McCain's capitulation on torture. And there's plenty more where that came from!
Let's end with a Howard Dean mailer, via dday:
How we'll beat John McCain
Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are done. John McCain will be the Republican nominee -- he's the only one with a reasonable path to the nomination.
So how do we beat him? We stand up -- right now -- start fighting, and show the American people that he's not who they think he is.
We can't wait for Hillary or Barack to win the nomination. Now that the Republicans have a candidate, the dollars are starting to pour in from special interests who will do anything to beat the Democratic nominee. They're just waiting for us to decide so they can start smearing [...]
John McCain is a media darling, but don't trust his carefully-crafted image - he's worked for years to brand himself. From Iraq to health care, Social Security to special interest tax cuts to ethics, he's promising nothing more than a third Bush term.
After championing campaign finance reform and ethics legislation to score political points, he now has a staggering amount of lobbyists involved in every aspect of his campaign. In fact, two of the top three sources for John McCain's campaign cash are D.C. lobbying firms, and he looked the other way as Jack Abramoff bought and paid for the Republican Party and the Culture of Corruption.
On immigration reform, he's run as far to the right as he can, aligning himself with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party.
On the war, McCain scoffed at Bush's call to leave troops in Iraq for 50 years, saying "Make it a hundred!"
On a woman's right to choose, McCain has vowed to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
On the economy, one of the issues that the American people care most about, McCain has said: "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."
We can't afford four more years with a President who drives the economy into the ground. We can't afford four more years with a President who fights an endless war in Iraq. We can't afford four more years with a President who gives tax cuts to companies who ship jobs overseas; with a President who can't get every American the health care they deserve; with a President we just can't trust.
Sounds good to me. Where's my pitchfork?
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)