Last night's non-victory victory rally in Florida underscored everything that's awful and ridiculous about the Clinton-Clinton '08 style. They pledged not to campaign in Florida, yet they campaigned there anyway. The primary was unofficial and no delegates were counted, yet they celebrated with a televised victory rally anyway -- ostensibly to trick some casual viewers and supporters into thinking it was a meaningful win.
Imagine, if you will, the Patriots showing up at U of P Stadium tonight and declaring victory even though they've agreed -- "pledged" if you will -- to play against the Giants on Sunday. It's an easy way to declare victory, albeit equally as cheap, dishonest and artificial.
And to observe Senator Clinton's pledge to seat the Florida delegates while, at that very moment, violating a previous pledge, was to observe a Clintonian paradox in its pristine, natural habitat.
Until today, John Edwards absolutely succeeded in moving the debate a little closer to a progressive posture. And by dropping out, John Edwards has further succeeded in condensing and clarifying the dynamic of the race. Today, this primary campaign has been distilled down to what amounts to Joe Lieberman versus Ned Lamont.
It's now about a competition between a new and inspirational paradigm -- a watershed movement inside the Democratic Party, not to mention a total redrawing the electoral map and an advancing of Howard Dean's 50-state strategy -- versus the shifty, triangulating DLC crap-on-a-stick approach to politics that has, more often than not, made us embarrassed to be Democrats.
And we should be equally as embarrassed by the Clinton approach so far. From the relatively insignificant over-use of poll-speak like "we are sending a clear message" simply because polls indicate that voters like candidates who are "sending a clear message"; to the besmirching of a presidential legacy by shamelessly race-baiting in South Carolina; to that bizarre scene in Florida last night, the Clinton-Clinton de facto ticket has become, dare I say, Lieberman-ish in that it represents a style of doing business that, in any other race, we'd be shredding without mercy or regard to party affiliation.
We know that both of the Democratic candidates have an equally strong chance of winning in November. We know that there's plenty of overlap on the issues. We know that Senator Clinton can recite policy positions just as brilliantly as Senator Obama can induce chills in even the most cynical political junkies. And we know that both candidates will make history. So if it's more or less a tie in those columns, why should we willingly choose to support the Democrat who's cribbing political strategy from Karl Rove's whiteboard?
As such, it's absolutely astonishing that the Democratic race is as close as it is. If a Republican said something like "Jesse Jackson won here twice" or pledged to grab delegates that don't exist we'd be choking on our own tongues as we convulsed and gasped in shock-horror. There's no excuse for forgiving the Rovian games or the DLC calculation. Just because they're The Clintons doesn't make it forgivable. Up until the last two months, I've been an unwavering supporter of President Clinton. He's arguably the second or third greatest president of the 20th Century next to FDR and JFK and he's presently the Most Popular Living Ex-President In The World, but these past couple of months have been seriously painful.
So how has Senator Clinton lasted as long as she has given her campaign's fun & games? Well, for starters, it doesn't hurt that the Most Popular Living Ex-President In The World is serving as her de facto running mate -- using his position as the Most Popular Living Ex-President In The World to publicly rip Senator Obama every day during New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. (Speaking of which, it's worth noting that in New Hampshire Senator Obama came within three percentage points of both Senator Clinton and the Most Popular Living Ex-President In The World. Any other year, that would've been considered a huge win for Obama.)
It also hasn't hurt Senator Clinton's chances that, somewhere along the line, it became de rigueur among some of the top-shelf progressive bloggers to remain neutral.
I understand exactly why they did, but now that it's a two person race, there's no reason why the progressive blogosphere shouldn't get down to endorsing a candidate. And while the endorsements could easily be for either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, they ought to be, by-in-large, endorsements that are consistent with the blogosphere's past activism against Democrats like Joe Lieberman, party machines like the DLC, and political stunts that reek of the current Bush Republican regime.
Now that John Edwards is out, and there's (unfortunately) not a truly "progressive" candidate in the field, there's no reason why the progressive bloggers shouldn't step up and actively support Senator Obama's effort. If the arguments for Senator Obama are framed correctly, supporting his campaign shouldn't be any different or more divisive than actively campaigning for Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman or, presently, campaigning for Donna Edwards over Congressman Al Wynn. And while, unlike Lieberman/Lamont and Edwards/Wynn, the 2008 presidential primary campaign isn't specifically about pro-war versus anti-war candidates, an argument can be made that it really is, since, after all, Senator Clinton vocally supported the invasion...
Even if we were to strike the war from the syllabus, we'd still be left with a choice between a once-in-a-generation, transformational candidate who's running parallel to our collective desire to remake the party, and, on the other side, a candidate who represents a species of Democrat that we've traditionally rejected. If the blogs choose to step out of the way on this one, they're forfeiting an historic role in the most historic presidential election of our time while the antiquated, embarrassing politics of DLC triangulation sneaks on by without a fight.
So yeah okay, there should be a parenthetical in my headline that reads, "(Preferrably Senator Obama.)" But you know, when the dust settles, we'll all come together behind the presumptive nominee and collectively barrel our way past the Bush Republicans to make history in November.
UPDATE - 8:06AM - Thursday: Markos, who has already voted absentee for Senator Obama, addresses the Obama national television spot here. Please read this, Clinton supporters.
UPDATE 2 - 11:18PM - Thursday: Just a reminder... Senator Clinton partnered with Joe Lieberman to ban and censor video games. Censorship! Hillary '08!