I hate to spoil everyone's fun this week -- the relentless focus on Hillary's tears (were they a shameless ploy for sympathy or genuine?) and their role in her surprising New Hampshire victory. Or Bill's snarky comments likening Obama's uplifting vision to a "fairy tale." But isn't this a presidential race, not some high-school popularity contest? Isn't this about who can best mop up the eight-year mess left by frat boy Bush?
On primary night you could see the impatience on Tom Brokaw's face. The veteran NBC anchor was providing commentary on MSNBC and he looked like he wanted to deck Chris Matthews, who was babbling so much he barely let his erudite guest speak. At one point Matthews got all flustered when the results came in and Hillary was proclaimed the winner. Oh, no! Suddenly there was all that airtime to fill. What are we going to talk about now? asked a panicky Matthews. How about the issues, deadpanned Brokaw.
In their fight for the nomination, Hillary and Obama haven't done this nearly enough. But the media hasn't exactly prodded them to, either, with its endless coverage of the squabbling and sniping between the two candidates. Or who's going on the defensive next! Sometimes the campaign feels more like a running episode of Survivor or Project Runway than a critical contest to elect a president.
Of course, any voter can go on the candidates' websites and check out their policy positions and five-point plans to fix health care. But, really, most voters don't. And probably won't. They're too busy working, picking up their kids from school, getting dinner on the table, and now worrying about their mortgages.
And what about Iraq? Which continues to drain the economy, cripple our military, inflict untold suffering on American soldiers and their families, and our moral position in the world. According to icasualties.org, at least 3,921 U.S. troops have been killed since we were tricked into invading Iraq. Have Clinton and Obama completely forgotten about the war? Five years into this quagmire, do either of them have a plan for getting us out? A post-war strategy? The surge was supposed to buy the Iraqis time to fashion a political solution. But so far it's a bust.
While Obama and Hillary have continually trumpeted how they're all about change, let's not forget: when the time came to take a stand, they both voted to give Bush another $70 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq. This is progress? Giving corrupt private contractors more bucks?
Maybe you missed it, but a day after New Hampshire something else newsworthy happened. During a sweep to round up insurgents, six American soldiers were killed and four others injured when they entered a house in Diyala province. They'd been told the house was an Al Queda hideout. It was rigged with explosives.
As they battle for votes, maybe Hillary and Obama might want to talk about that.
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