Posted by: Travis | March 5, 2008

“Critical Tuesday” wrap up

Rachel caught the first flight out this morning to go back home to attend services for Hayley. Since that meant leaving the house this morning at 4:45am, i figured that after i dropped her off at the airport i would just grab a cup of coffee from Peet’s and go on into work rather than go home and catch another hour of sleep. I’ve been watching the sun rise from my office as i finish up a big project due next week, and feel the need to get some stuff off my chest from yesterday. So i guess i’ll take some time (off the clock of course) and get some thoughts on paper before the rest of the office starts to trickle in. But before i get on with that, i thought i should mention that my parents are coming up for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. They’ll be getting in Thursday and staying through Sunday as we attempt to do a 72 hour blitzkrieg of the Bay Area. Part of the planned festivities will be a birthday dinner at famed Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse on friday night. Im very excited.

Ok, on with the politics. I guess i should start with a disclaimer that i am not a political pundit. Im a 23 year old engineer who thinks he does a pretty decent job of staying up to date and well informed about this particular campaign. What i write here are my views and if you don’t agree with them, i apologize. I don’t necessarily think im absolutely correct in my assertions, these are merely my thoughts. Take them with a grain of salt.

Last night John McCain officially locked up the republican nomination. On the flip side, Hillary won primaries in 3 of the 4 states while Barrack picked up one primary and looks to have the Texas caucus in the bag (though that’s not official). Hillary got about a 10 point margin of victory in Ohio, which should lead to about 8 delegates. Texas was much closer and it looks like she will only pick up 1 or 2 more delegates there. As far as delegates go, Rhode Island and Vermont essentially cancel each other out. If Obama wins the Texas caucus, that will probably mean that they will evenly split delegates from Texas. Meaning that Hillary needed to close the pledged delegate gap of about 150, and she picked up between 5 and 10 delegates. Unless something out of the ordinary happens, Obama will go into the convention with a lead in pledged delegates.

My how things have changed in the month since Super Tuesday. I realize that a month ago McCain was way out front and the democratic race was neck and neck, but underneath that things have changed dramatically. Back then the democrats looked like they were choosing between two stellar candidates that were pretty similar in a refreshingly clean campaign, while the republicans seemed splintered over whether McCain was conservative enough. Clinton and Obama supporters seemed likely to support the other if their candidate didn’t make it out with the nomination. Back then i said that the likelihood of Clinton and Obama on the same ticket was unlikely, but with the recent mudslinging that seems like it has an even smaller chance of happening. Since the campaign went negative (and i think we can all agree that is was Hillary that took it there), Clinton and Obama supporters have become increasingly resentful of each other. Blacks who support Hillary have been called ‘Uncle Toms’ by other blacks and felt increasing pressure to vote their race and throw their support behind Obama. On the other hand women who support Obama have been accused of being misogynist (i’ve talked to my mom a little bit about this), and have felt increasing pressure to vote their gender and throw support behind Hillary. Maureen Dowd has an interesting article about just this in the New York Times today (which you can read here).

I guess my point that this is really bad. You should vote for who you want based on whose policies you agree with, whose character you respect most, who inspires you more, and who you think is going to do a better job. In my opinion, voting for a candidate because of their race or gender is just as bigoted as not voting for a candidate because of those things. This long drawn out process is terrible for the democratic party because its taking factions of the party that need to be united and turning them against each other. A month ago it seemed like regardless of who the democratic nominee was, the general election would be a cakewalk. Now, im not so sure its looking that way. Clinton supporters are starting to see Obama as the arrogant and pretentious smart kid who lacks experience and is all rhetoric, no substance. Meanwhile Obama supporters (myself included) are beginning to see Clinton as a bitchy, arrogant, washington insider who will do anything to get elected and schizophrenically oscillates between being a ‘fighter’ and portraying herself as a victim to the biased media and the ‘unfairly harsh’ attacks from Obama.

I myself have become a affected by this trend. I remember telling my parents when i was home for Christmas that i thought Edwards and Obama could really help this country turn the corner, but i would be fine with any of the other candidates. Even around Super Tuesday i remember thinking that i really liked Obama, but would be fine with Clinton. But now, i find myself having the same reaction to Hillary that i do to Dub-ya whenever she opens her mouth: i cringe. Whenever Rachel and i begin a sentence with “So the Clinton campaign came out today and said…” the other person invariably reacts with a removed amusement that is normally reserved for the Bushies wandering around the backyard of a birthday party, still blindfolded and mumbling in that Texas drawl that Jon Stewart does, swinging at the pinata that was smashed hours ago while all of the party’s guest are now sitting at home.

At the moment it looks like the only way Hillary will be able to pull this thing out is some serious mudslinging that makes Obama’s popularity in PA free fall, or going after superdelegates. If the Democratic party, the supposed ‘party of the people’ goes against the voters wishes and gives the nomination to the person who doesn’t have the lead in pledged delegates, it will have some serious problems. This result should be avoided all all costs. Should this happen, i think John McCain, the guy who wants to continue most of the Bush policies, wants to go to war with Iran, has talked about staying in Iraq for 100 years, feels like a robot when he speaks, has a wife who looks straight out of the Stepford Wive, sand is loathed my the base of the republican party, might just have a chance. On paper this thing shouldn’t even be close.

The other day i caught myself thinking that if the leader in pledged delegates doesn’t win the nomination, i will have some serious problems voting for the democratic nominee. I have a feeling that between now and April 22 (when they vote in PA), that things are only going to get worse. Whether Hillary’s negative attacks in the past few weeks are the reason for her win or not, im sure they will interpret it that way. The 2008 election should have been a cakewalk for the democrats, but they sure are trying hard to screw things up for themselves.

UPDATE: Rolling Stone magazine has officially endorsed Obama today. Not much of a surprise there. I agree with most of what the endorsement says. Its long, but a pretty good read. You can check it out here.

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Responses

  1. Two sad follow-up comments. First, much of the credit for Clinton’s recent upsurge has been attributed to the commercial that largely consists of sleeping children, with a solemn voice-over asking who you would rather have answer the White House phone at 3:00 in the morning when there is an international crisis. I heard one pundit say that she was taking a page out of the Guliani playbook. There’s no doubt that this approach is pandering to fear in the way that Karl Rove made so successful in the last two campaigns, and that I was hoping the Democrats would avoid this time. Second, a report came out of the Obama campaign today acknowledging that Clinton had gone negative in the last week, and that this approach had been quite successful, and that Obama would be sharpening his attacks against her in the days to come.

    So Clinton is acting more like the worst of the Republicans, and Obama is going to take the bait and be more like Clinton. How depressing. I thought we might have the opportunity for a campaign where candidates took the high road and spoke hopefully about what they could do for America rather than playing on fear, insecurity, and the desire to see public figures be attacked. But it seems that when people try to take the high road, they lose ground politically and are encouraged to go low. As long as the electorate sends these kind of signals, maybe we deserve the politicians that we get.


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