Monday, January 28, 2008

Clinton nausea

Maggie says:
I've had a knot in my stomach about the Clintons for the last couple of weeks. Hillary's win in Nevada made me realize it existed at that size, she and Bill's tactics on the campaign trail made it grow even bigger, happening upon the Clinton years with Howard Zinn in the car hardened it, and my queasy state every time I see one of them on camera lately only confirms what I've been suspecting all along: I have major Clinton nausea.

I can barely talk about them right now. (Ask Trevor, who innocently tried to start a Clinton conversation while we were grocery shopping the other night.) I can barely write about them here, and certainly don't have the wherewithal to construct a solid "why not" piece. What's changed for me is Bill's sudden front-and-center status in the campaign. Before, I was better able to isolate Hillary and try to support her as a woman, even though I've never been planning on voting for her in a primary. But now, Bill's right there in everyone's faces, and I can't separate them at all, and so it becomes both of them running in my head, which changes the game for me.

Here's what I don't want in the general election:

  • A campaign that's tougher than it should be. This election should be a home run given the disastrous Bush ratings. Why don't we put up a candidate who won't provoke such visceral reactions from folks? Do I really want to spend yet another Election Night tearing my hair out and waking up with the worst "Oh my God, is it true?" feeling possible? No. I'd like to smile on Election Night. I'd like to wake up smiling. Dammit, we deserve to smile. There's too much at stake, and this one is ours to win, and I don't want to go through another election from hell.
  • The '90s. Let's talk now, 2008. I don't to hear about Clinton scandals. I don't want to recall bit players and old dramas. I just don't. I want to move forward, into a new era of policymaking and into a new way of thinking. To me, that's fundamentally impossible with the Clintons.
Here's what I want from the next president:
  • Real positions. I want someone with a clear ideology who will be elected on those ideas and will govern by those ideas. I want no part of the Clintons' politicking-by-polling. I don't want pandering to the right that takes zero risk and gives the other side what they want as a starting point. I don't want a selling-out of liberal ideals and the gall to proclaim it was the best we could get, that our values are still represented. At this point we cannot risk any more madness - I don't buy the argument that we have nothing to worry about because of a Democratic Congress. If that's the case, then I really want someone who'll fight the right fights and enact the best policy possible. That is never going to happen within the politics of triangulation. When I think about some of the policies that came out of the Clinton White House, I want to strangle someone. I want no part of that in the future.
  • Hope. Yes, this is cheesy. But I mean it. How can we carry forward a political legacy of change if we continue to drag our feet with bygone politics and outdated ways of thinking? I want freshness, and I want to move forward. That is absolutely impossible with these two in the White House again.
For the record, I'm not saying that Barack Obama has the answers, either. His rhetoric is beautiful, but his positioning is vague. He represents many of the same corporate interests that the Clintons do. I'd still be voting for John Edwards if I were a Super Tuesday voter. (Although if state polling showed Clinton might win, maybe I'd go Obama after all, I don't know...) But given the choice between Obama and Clinton, that choice has become strikingly clear over the last couple of weeks. At this point, I'd rather vote for a hopeful lack of specifics than a depressing rehash of progressive selling-out.

For better, less heated thinking:
  • Frank Rich's Sunday NY Times piece NAILED the case against the Clintons. "The Billary Road to Republican Victory" lays out why both Clintons are back in play now, and how disastrous that would be in the general election, especially if McCain is the candidate. "Any Democrat who seriously thinks that Bill will fade away if Hillary wins the nomination — let alone that the Clintons will escape being fully vetted — is a Democrat who, as the man said, believes in fairy tales."
  • Salon revisits the context of Toni Morrison's original reference to Clinton as the nation's "first black president." Morrison, who endorsed Obama today (as did Ted Kennedy), wasn't being celebratory in the piece where she wrote that phrase... she was talking about Ken Starr and the "guilty until proven innocent" mindset of the times. Says Salon: "'Black' isn't a cute moniker, a stylish accoutrement, nor a 'down-home' way of speaking. An actual black man now stands before the nation, making the case for why he thinks he is the best choice for president."