I almost called this post "The Last Temptation of Barack Obama," but that would have been slightly deceptive. In this case, the Temptation is not Obama's but my own. Does one drain the chalice and support Obama for no reason other than the rapture he has inspired? And more broadly, is the Left as a whole compelled to get on the Obama train before they're left behind?
You'd have to be a fool to deny the possibility but I have a feeling we'll all be there to meet the Obama train when it pulls in at the station in Denver this August, and with the prospect of a deadlocked Democratic Convention before us.
When Bill Clinton called Obama's candidacy "the biggest fairytale" he's "ever seen," he was mistaken. Obama's candidacy is the second biggest fairytale we've ever seen. The biggest fairytale is the true story of every horned and spiky thing that has ever spewed out of Bill Clinton's triangulatin', prevaricatin' mouth.
Like it or not, everything in Hillary's candidacy proceeds from Bill's legacy of lies, betrayals, and corporate whoredom. Hillary is good on the issues, but her chief campaign and media consultant is the PR guy for Blackwater. Hillary would support campaign finance reform and a ban on lobbying but if she did, how could she raise the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to get her elected so she could do all the wonderful things she's always dreamed of doing for us.
Hillary still invokes her days working at the Children's Defense Fund under Marion Wright Edelman, but Edelman cut off the Clintons when Bill went after kids on welfare in 1996, to please his new Republican friends in the House.
Hillary now cries when reminded of her youthful idealism working at the Child Study Center in New Haven, but I don't think she's crying wistfully about the road not taken; rather, she's crying about the compromises she's had to make along the highway to power. Hillary and Bill would say that they had to make those compromises "to maintain their viability in the system," that they made those compromises for us.
The rest of us might say, of course, who asked them? The Clinton's live in a cocoon of self-deception and though I'm sure they regard themselves as "good people," when Bill and Hillary walk through a room there is a faint whiff of sulfur in their wake.
From a Democratic Party perspective though, the biggest problem with Hillary is not so much that she's in league with the forces of darkness as that she can't beat John McCain. The reason she can't, is because Republicans won't vote for her, most Independents won't vote for her, and people like me won't vote for her.
Basta! We've had enough.
Obama can beat McCain, and will if given the chance. The prospect of beating Hillary and McCain should be enough to get everyone on board the Obama train.
Personally, though, I am ambivalent. The Obama campaign has been brilliantly executed, a true phenomenon. Obama is a genuinely charismatic guy. The Obama people have out organized the Clinton and Edwards people on the ground, and their candidate is a seamless fit with his message. But what is this campaign actually about?
It's about "change" they tell us.
Still, when Obama says "we've got to go forward, and not go back," I wonder how this would sound if there weren't ten thousand people screaming in approval. We're told that Obama's campaign is different, singular even. However much of Obama's message is vaguely reminiscent of Jimmy Carter, or the first Bill Clinton campaign, and like Clinton and Carter, Obama is coming at his Democratic primary opponent from both the Right and the Left simultaneously.
The one difference, and the telling difference between these campaigns, is that Obama IS the change that everyone else has talked about up until now. We know this because Obama tells us so, and one assumes he genuinely believes it. Obama is a black person who doesn't scare white people, but embraces them. When he talks about a new era of unity, he believes that too and so might we all.
It follows though, that the difference with Obama's campaign, is that it's more a belief thing than a political thing; a messianic thing even, and with ten thousand people screaming, "Yes, he's the One," who am I--or you--to say no?
So, let me just say it. No, I don't feel like playing the fool for Barack Obama.
I've been a John Edwards supporter this election, but now it's time for Gore, more than before.
Al Gore has many things to recommend him. As opposed to Hillary, he actually is quite experienced. Hillary's supposed 35 years of experience consists of exactly seven years of elective office.
As opposed to Obama, Gore really is a candidate of systemic change, and he's got the Nobel Prize to prove it.
Gore has been writing and talking about the slide of the culture into a televised, corporate consumptionist abyss, and the dangers this poses to a democratic
Gore was among the earliest and most vocal to attack Bush and Cheney on the illegal, immoral recklessness of going into Iraq, and he's been on them ever since.
Gore is not only the best Democratic candidate who could be put up at this point, he might end up being the only alternative at a deadlocked convention.
A Gore-Obama ticket would be a winning Democratic combination -- for a change -- in November.
In part 2 of this post, I'll discuss ideas, tactics and strategies -- crackpot and otherwise -- for making this happen.