Now that the race has been narrowed down to two Democratic candidates and we face a 22-state primary election tomorrow, I want to state unequivocally that I'm for Barack Obama.
If Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and goes up against John McCain I fear it will dissipate much of the energy that has been generated throughout the primary campaigns. It will be a boring race that rehashes a lot of old news.
We'll hear more about Whitewater than we'll hear about Blackwater.
We'll hear more about the Rose Law firm and "Travelgate" than we'll hear about KBR and the shameless profiteering in Iraq.
We'll hear more about Bill Clinton's love affair with Monica Lewinsky than John McCain's love affair with Bush's bloodbath in Iraq.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama is youthful, brilliant, dedicated, and an experienced community organizer from the Southside of Chicago. He has risen to great heights through hard work and perseverance. (With all of the comparisons lately between Obama and John F. Kennedy, we should remember that no matter how talented JFK was his father greatly assisted his political rise from his earliest campaign in 1946 when he first won a House seat. Obama had no one in his life with money and power remotely comparable to Joseph P. Kennedy.)
Barack Obama never supported and has never apologized for George W. Bush's illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. He can take on John McCain directly as the anti-war candidate. Hillary Clinton cannot.
Barack Obama has touched a nerve with people who are outraged by Bush's constant abuses of power. Senator Clinton has been duplicitous in many of those abuses. Once again, the American people are far ahead of the overly cautious Democratic Establishment on the issue of the Bush Administration's criminality.
As far as U.S. policy in Iraq goes, John "the surge is working" McCain is identical to Dick Cheney. (He even looks like Cheney if the VP wore contact lenses.) The aged and decrepit McCain might be a hybrid of Barry Goldwater and Bob Dole but he can make a powerful case that he'd be a "stronger" commander-in-chief than Hillary Clinton. The misogynists in the Republican noise machine will help him drive this point home. Clinton will have to insist over and over again that she is just as "tough" on the "terrorists" in "wartime" as McCain, and her hawkish rhetoric will alienate the antiwar base of the Democratic Party.
Barack Obama's eight years in the Illinois State Senate and his nearly four years in the U.S. Senate give him more direct legislative experience than Hillary Clinton. Clinton has emphasized her 35 years of "experience" over Obama's presumed "naivety." She includes the years 1993 to 2001 as part of this experience. In doing so, she indirectly takes credit for the era of good feelings her husband presided over.
But just as only Richard Nixon could go to China, only Bill Clinton could undermine the New Deal. On November 12, 1999, Clinton undid the Glass-Steagall Act (a hallmark New Deal reform), which helped produce the current financial meltdown. And his "welfare reform" demolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). If this is the kind of "experience" to which Hillary Clinton points then I would ask her supporters to explain how dismantling AFDC helped poor women and children in this country?
President Clinton left the Democratic Party in a far weaker position when he left office than when he had entered. He couldn't even deliver Arkansas to Al Gore in 2000 or to John Kerry in 2004. After he retired he played golf and yucked it up with former president George Herbert Walker Bush. Hillary Clinton now promises to send the two bosom buddies out on a "goodwill tour" if she is elected president. That's just great. George the Elder, the man who made it possible for his ne'er-do-well son to become president, out on tour with the "First Gentleman." I guess we can forget about the Hillary Clinton Administration bringing criminal charges against members of the Bush Administration for their many crimes. How could she with Pappy Bush out "touring" with her husband?
If elected president, Hillary Clinton will sidle to "the center" (meaning "the right") as soon as she is sworn in joining Rahm Emanuel and other DLCers in "triangulating" against the progressive wing of the Democratic Party just as Bill did throughout the 1990s. She might not even get that far after the GOP smear machine eats her alive in the general election. As Frank Rich and others have pointed out, Clinton is vulnerable to being smeared as a risky commander-in-chief in "wartime" compared to the "hero" McCain. Clinton's vote in favor of Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq, makes her a very weak "antiwar" candidate, tamps down the war issue in the general election, and opens her up to charges of "flip-flopping" just as John Kerry suffered in 2004. And despite his war record he lost.
Barack Obama symbolizes multicultural America at its best and he might be able to serve as a foil to the race baiting of the Republicans. They fear showing their true colors and being tarnished as racists. (Just go to the Council of Conservative Citizens' web site if you think the Republican Party isn't populated with racists.) The Republicans want to keep those tendencies subterranean. Hence, they will have to be cautious when they smear Obama if he wins the nomination. (Remember what happened to Trent Lott and Don Imus?)
And Barack Obama has another great asset: Michelle Obama.
Rarely in American politics has the spouse of a presidential candidate been as impressive and brilliant as Michelle Obama. I caught her speech she gave in Delaware on C-SPAN and she inspired me even more than her husband. Her speech covered so much ground confidently, poignantly, and succinctly. She is a spellbinding orator. Michelle Obama, like her husband, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a political force in her own right. She has the potential to be the most politically active First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Obamas can win for the Democrats in November. And with grassroots support, they can possibly deliver real change in Washington. There is something inherently appealing about a gifted, committed, progressive and forward-looking African-American couple with two young children living in the White House. This November I'll vote for the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. But for now I'm for Obama.