Into the Fray

So, it looks like we'll get to play in the presidential primary sandbox, at least on the left side. It feels kinda good.

Because this race is so tight, our little primary is the last big prize before the Democratic National Convention in August. Because of the Democrats' convoluted (two words that seem to increasingly appear in the same sentence) method of choosing a candidate, our primary likely won't decide anything. The happiest people in town are the general managers of the local television and radio stations. They stand to see a windfall in advertising revenue. Perhaps some cash will even trickle down to the daily paper, which might allow it to temporarily halt its ongoing Operation Section Consolidation.

I'm looking forward to the circus. Charlotte should see a lot of action. We're the largest population base in the state, and county voter registration skews slightly Democratic. Expect Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to put in face time here. Bill has already been a regular. I'm curious to see which Hillary Clinton shows up. Will it be Don't-Cry-for-Me-America-I'll-Do-It-For-You Hillary, or steely-eyed Remember-Margaret-Thatcher?-I-Could-Totally-Kick-Her-Ass Hillary? I wonder if Obama will come in swinging, or stay above the fray, uttering vague platitudes about change, as if that's a new idea. I wonder if Oprah will show, although I'd prefer Uma. And I hope our local Democratic party doesn't completely embarrass us.

When this race started, it began as many do, with promises to stay positive and focus on the issues. But as soon as one well-funded candidate gets behind, the attacks usually start. The other morning, I got a press release from the Clinton campaign. I don't think the author was trying to be ironic, but the entire text of the release attacked Obama for, get this, attacking Hillary. Near the end, the release compared Obama to Kenneth Starr. That would be the same Starr that Hillary once complained was part of a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" set on taking down her husband.
To be fair, Obama has set upon Hillary from time to time, as well. Although for some reason, his attacks seem more measured, more thoughtful.

Maybe he's just better at it.

I'm not naively suggesting that we ought to all get along. But I am sad that Clinton has dragged Obama down into the mud, which is what I think has happened. I think everyone, except bloggers and talking heads, had high hopes that maybe, just maybe, the politicians wouldn't make us all suffer through a campaign in which candidates spent hundreds of millions of dollars airing ads and blasting memos about the opposing candidates, as opposed to elucidating their own plans.

I think that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would make fine presidents, although I think Obama would be a better leader. I also think John McCain would make a good president and an excellent leader, if he would just keep an open mind about the war. For me, at this point, it's not about the individual candidates. It's a matter of style. I despise the Republican political machine and the way it aims to systematically destroy the opposition. That's not good for the country. Nor do I like the Clintons' chameleonic, faux-empathetic, whatever-it-takes campaign style. You could argue that Obama started off as overly righteous, as he decried the “politics of old” while offering little explanation of what the new politics are. But at least he tried to not only stay above the fray, he tried to marginalize the fray into nonexistence.

It didn't work, as we're about to find out first-hand. And that's a shame.