14 February 2008

More Dialogue


Here is Matt from England's response to my response to his question about Obama/ Clinton:




Dear [The Idea of Progress],
Thank you for taking time out to put together your well-argued reply, which I found particularly touching in its compassionate views on foreign affairs. It’s coming up to the fifth anniversary of the million-strong London anti-war march that I attended in February 2003, and I’m sure many of the people I marched with would be impressed by your outlook on the conflict and America’s role on the world stage.

From my perspective, American politics in Primaries Season looks like a Lollapalooza for suits, where unpopular acts get kicked off the bill as the tour goes on. I’m fascinated by the often grandly surreal lurches American politics takes. I remember when Bush Jr was going for his second term and I saw footage from the New York Republican Convention in which delegates were lampooning Kerry’s alleged policy switches by waving around huge Styrofoam flip-flops, echoing the main buzz-phrase of the time. And I sat there thinking, Christ – there’s about 20,000 people in that enormodome waving around at least 40,000 giant flip-flops… that would *never* happen over here! It was like a Monty Python sketch re-imagined by Leni Riefenstahl.

Your explanation for your support of Obama is very persuasive – I can tell that you admire him a great deal. There probably aren’t all that many policy differences between he and Mrs C, but I think that as a political operator, he has far more going for him in terms of freshness and dynamism. He photographs well, has a lot of energy, and most importantly, he comes with no baggage. Mrs C may be able to trade off the past, but Obama can beat that by trading off the future. And to have a potential pattern of four-year administrations from 1989 reading 'Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton’ would be ruinous to the whole ‘Hey, *anyone* can do this’ appeal of the Presidency.

While I’m puzzled by some of the excesses of US election campaigns (apart from taking Springsteen on the road with you – I mean, any rational person would want to do that…), something that really grabs me about them is the public’s willingness to be inspired; to find someone to believe in and back them to the hilt. We in the UK have such an in-built sense of irreverence that apathy is just a breath away. Blair’s victory in ’97 may have looked like a rock-star reception to overseas observers, but it was sealed by the lowest turn-out since the Second World War. Amid all the changes and the soporific media honeymoon, people were just waiting for him to mess up.
In the most ironic possible way, he didn’t disappoint.

I hope your guy keeps his momentum, and his cool, especially with such a long way to go. I also hope that his zeal for change proves to be more than just a buzz-word. Living under Blair for a decade, you get to be a little suspicious of that kind of talk.

All the best,

Matt

PS – feel free to add this to your blog if you think it would be helpful.

10 comments:

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

And this is your Valentine's Day post? For shame.

Leonesse said...

I love another take on the issue.

The [Cherry] Ride said...

Yay - politics on V-Day! Fuck Cupid!

Justin said...

The point about the baggage is one of the principal reasons I also favor Obama. Republicans hate...HATE...Hillary Clinton. Not only that, but they hate Bill Clinton too. I believe Obama has a greater chance of cutting through all this divisiveness that seems to have consumed Washington and the rest of the country in recent years. Of course there will be Republicans who will hate Obama as well, but it will more likely be based primarily on political differences, about which there can at least be a dialogue. How do you have a dialogue about the baggage of the Clinton years: infidelity, perjury, impeachment, Whitewater, last minute pardons of politically connected fugitives, and so on?

Pezda's Ghost said...

Matt, one of the reasons Obama is so galvanizing is because Americans have been forced for eight years to watch a complete moron make an ass out of himself and our country. Obama has the right mix of intelligence and charisma which makes us think, "Maybe he is the one to save this sinking ship."

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

Oh, just to refute Pezda and Justin for a brief second, let me first stress that I respect Obama greatly. However, I don't think it's fair to discount Hillary because the Republican's hate the Clintons. You think that they are suddenly going to play nice if Obama is in control? I think that's a bit naive. Keep in mind we only had to hear about Monica because a billion dollar investigation into Whitewater turned up more or less nothing and that's what they used to justify the investigation (Not that I condone what he did, but that's sa whole other issue). Also, *all* presidents pardon people - yeah, it's ethically questionable, but it's also a power guaranteed to the president in the Constitution You only remember talk about Clinton because the Republicans were very effective in pointing it out (not to mention indicting all those people in the first place). Given the choice between Monica and waterboarding, I really feel like that the latter says more about us as a country than where the president sticks his peter.

But however you feel about Bill, I don't think it's fair to punish Hillary for him. Keep in mind that Hillary initially proposed health care for all Americans back in the day. Yeah, I don't agree with her 100%, but I think she is very bright, capable and experienced, and that Obama, while very inspirational is also a very very junior senator. I wish he were running four our eight years from now when he has a bit more experience under his belt. Preaching change is all well and good, making it so is a whole different story.

Bubs said...

Thanks for your ongoing posts about Barack Obama and your support for him. I like him better than Clinton, but I'm kind of surprised by how wildly so many folks have fallen in love with him. I'm not complaining, mind you--I'm happy to see it, and hope this enthusiasm carries through, and he's able to get his supporters to turn out in November.

Up until now I've thought that his chief virtue was as an alternative to Clinton fatigue.

Anonymous said...

"a billion dollar investigation into Whitewater turned up more or less nothing"

It turned up 14 convictions. That is hardly nothing. Also, it cost 40 million, which is a mere fraction of a billion. It would have cost almost nothing if the Clintons admitted what they did on the first day. Instead, they forced a long investigation that is all their fault.

The Clintons were at the center of it, but the 14 who got convicted did not have the ability to claim "executive privileges" to cover up their crimes. The Clintons basically "holed up" and never agreed to submit subpeona'ed evidence as legally required.

And the whole sexual harassment thing? Bill eventually admitted that he harassed Paula Jones.

"Keep in mind that Hillary initially proposed health care for all Americans back in the day. "

She proposed to destroy health care for all Americans. Her plan included jail terms. It fell apart when opponents dared to air TV commercials in which people read from the plan.

It is easy to see why Barack is ahead. He has no criminal baggage. He's truthful (and Hillary tends to lie a lot in her speeches, especially when she talks about political opponents of either party).

Ms. Laaw-yuhr said...

Anonymous, it's not much fun to argue with a non-blogger, but anyway, I never claimed that Bill Clinton was a saint. I said it's not fair to blame Hillary for his [alleged] crimes. However let me address a few things:

I was being hyperbolic when I used the term "billion dollar". I apologize for not being more precise.

Also "more or less nothing" was in reference to the Clinton's guilt in particular, not everyone associated with Whitewater. I should have said "more or less nothing on the Clintons" as three separate inquiries found that there was insufficient evidence to even *charge* them. Please note, it doesn't take a great deal of evidence to be sufficient for a charge.

I believe Bill Clinton's claim of executive privilege was overturned by the courts, although not his claim of attorney client privilege - maybe someone remembers precisely?

Also I need more specifics about which documents in particular you claim "weren't produced". Are you saying at the time requested or ever? The documents relating to Madison Guaranty were (eventually) produced, but some documents were protected by attorney-client privilege (I believe rightfully). Any potential defendant facing any kind of charge fights document production; it's perfectly valid and is not necessarily indicative of guilt.

As I said, Bill Clinton's sexual indiscretions are a separate issue entirely and can hardly be imputed to Hillary, and certainly have no bearing on how SHE would perform as a president.

And I'm not sure exactly how Hillary's plan would "destroy health care for all Americans" without you speaking more specifically. I merely said she made a plan, I didn't claim her plan was perfect. But hey, it was a start and I think there are a lot of people who wish we'd started doing something about universal health care back in the 90's, instead of waiting until now to even begin a really meaningful push for it. Me being one of them.

And lastly, all politicians lie. In fact (shock!) everyone lies. You do, I do. To pretend that Obama, or any politican, will never make a promise he can't keep is just silly. As I said, I don't hate Obama, I respect him. But I also respect Hillary. Saying things like "He's truthful and she lies" is a bit overly simplistic and doesn't really contribute to meaningful discourse.

The point of my earlier (breezier) plea was to ask that we judge Hillary by her own merits and failures and by the same token we really take a hard look at Obama's proposals. But in truth, I'm glad to be alive to have seen some really good presidential candidates put forth by the Dems.

Justin said...

I'm not getting involved.