Last week I posted a blog on the Huffington Post describing my dilemma; how confused I was swinging on the Democratic vine, sometimes towards Hillary, other times towards Obama. Truth is I found myself more often swinging towards Hillary, so why have I decided to vote for Obama in the New York primary come Tuesday?
Three little words. Hillary's war vote. The more I ponder it the more I find it not just a run-of-the-mill misjudgment, it was a catastrophic blunder, one that has stripped our country of its moral authority, nearly destroyed our economy, and most important, cost hundreds of thousands of human lives. As that wily old 19th century diplomat Metternich once said, "It was worse than a crime, it was a mistake."
Having said that, I must confess that I like Hillary better than Barack Obama in so many ways. Here I'm probably in the minority. I find her warm, sympathetic, and often courageous, much more so than Obama whom I often find cold, somewhat calculating, and hiding a real mean streak behind his affable smile and his idealistic talk. But none of this takes away from the fact that he could be a great president. He's got all the stuff to make a true leader, a measured, thoughtful intelligence, a passionate commitment to helping those who need help, and a manner that inspires the young. Oddly enough, I resent all those big-wig Democrat endorsements of Obama. They pulled me away from him rather than towards him. Sure, they are free to do so, but I don't want them influencing my vote or yours -- which fortunately they can't do. Indeed, it was Teddy Kennedy's endorsement of Obama that almost shoved me back into the Hillary camp.
Hillary is smart as hell, and God knows we need smart more than ever to get us out of this Bush hell. And I have wanted to vote for a woman because life has taught me that most women are smarter, kinder, and altogether superior to most men. But sometimes Hillary reminds me of the bright girl who sat beside me in the third grade who kept her arm over her test paper so that I couldn't copy her answers. In fact, that's at the core of my vote for Obama. Hillary's brilliance. I'm sort of okay when it comes to making a political judgment, but not half as informed or as bright as Hillary Clinton. And yet I knew at that time before the war that voting to give Bush war powers was worse than a crime. And that's what her vote did, no matter how she tries to spin it. Everything Bush had done prior to that vote showed that he would abuse his power, that he was an arrogant, willful bully and thus a coward, and would use other men's lives to prove that he was a real man. And of course, that's what he did. And she had to have known that too. Only she was preparing to run for the presidency and she wanted to seem properly bellicose to please the war crowd, and not risk being on the wrong side of history. It was just such a miscalculation that put her on the wrong side of history.
What do I like about Hillary if I fault her for all of the above? Well, she is one classy woman. The whole messy Monica affair showed that she had real guts and courage; that she could stare down public humiliation and go on to a splendid career and life of her own. This, despite the fact that some judgmental men and women were offended by her forgiving her husband and others saw it as political expediency. I viewed it as an honest effort to pick up the broken parts of her marriage and make herself, her husband, and her daughter whole again. I don't much care for her wonky oratorical style, but I like her smile, her giggle, her (God help me) charm, and I think she has raised a terrific daughter in Chelsea. I like the fact that Hillary is aging yet doesn't obsess over it, and that she deals with the important stuff like health care in a measured, intelligent fashion, and I am still wary of Obama's health care plan, and fear that all his inspirational talk can lead to demagoguery, as inspirational talk often does, still, I will vote for Obama come Tuesday.
This will be the first time in over fifty years that my wife and I will be voting for different candidates. She is fully committed to Hillary and thinks I am making a real error in casting my vote for the younger, less experienced, less tested candidate. But those three little words (give or take an apostrophe) "Hillary's war vote," won't allow me to pull that lever for her next Tuesday. By not 'fessing up and calling it what it was -- a tragic mistake -- she lost my vote in this primary. Yes, I would have voted for her had she done so. God knows we've all made terrible mistakes. It would take a book to list my own, and my vote for Obama may be one of them. Of course I will gladly vote for Hillary in the general election, should she win the Democratic nomination. She's a great woman and McCain would be an American disaster of monumental proportions, finishing the job of destroying this democracy that Bush started, engaging us in catastrophic military adventures in the name of national security, and thus lessening any security we still have, and any chance of reconciliation with the world. Add to that he would be packing the court with such zealots as Roberts and Alito, forced to play footsie with the Republican right -- and we would continue our downward slide as a democracy.
Oh yes, I promised one of my sons, the younger one, Chris, that I would publish a retraction. When I wrote last week that both my brilliant sons were voting for Hillary, Chris emailed me, "Whoa, Dad, what makes you think I'm voting for Hillary?" So I retract that statement. Only one of my sons is brilliant. The other one, like me, is voting for Obama.