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Campaign '08 Update: The Medium, the Message & the "Monster" -- Clinton Has Lost Herself Along the Way; It Has to Be Obama
By Richard Power
Five more US soldiers have died in Iraq. (AFP, 3-10-08) (Make that eight more US soldiers.) For what?
Childhood malnutrition in Iraq has increased by nine percent since before the invasion. Five hundred thousand Iraqi children died during the twelve years of sanctions, but since they were lifted, one hundred twenty two thousand died in 2005 alone. Inter Press Service, 3-10-08 For what?
According to Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, this foolish military adventure is going to cost the USA at least $3 trillion, and has become a major factor in the tanking of the US economy. Reuters, 3-2-08 For what?
So that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) can deem herself and Sen. John "One Hundred Years" McCain (R-AZ) more qualified for office than Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)?
Think I am being too harsh?
Let me walk you through it.
I have been trying to hold my fire.
I did not want to have to write this post, but I really have no choice now.
I did not want to choose between Clinton and Obama. I would have preferred to remain neutral until the race for the nomination was decided.
I wanted to be able to say that even though neither of them were my first (Gore), second (Clark), third (Edwards), fourth (Richardson) or fifth (Kucinich) choice, I would be happy with either of them.
But really, Sen. Clinton has left me with no other choice -- it has to be Obama.
My credentials are impeccable.
I know that the Clintons have been the recipients of irrational hate from the right and undeserved contempt from the US mainstream news media; and because I know that I hesitate to say anything hurtful or harsh about either of them.
After all, I spent the 1990s defending Bill and Hillary Clinton against what the real Hillary Clinton called the "vast right wing conspiracy." You remember that Hillary Clinton? The one who knew that "it takes a village"? Ah, but that was a long time ago, wasn't it? Something has snapped inside, I guess. This Clinton is a search and destroy Rovian robo-candidate. That is when she is not getting teary-eyed or hamming it up in TV comedy skits. Ah, but even that is calculated, isn't it?
I also spent the 1990s defending Bill Clinton's policies against the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. NAFTA? Fix it later. Telecom Act of 1996? Fix it later. "Welfare reform"? Fix it later. But later never came. It was stolen in Fraudida in 2000.
And now it has to be Obama.
We have no choice.
Sen. Clinton's vote on the invasion of Iraq was unforgivable -- there is no reason other than political self-interest that she did not vote with Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the others (e.g., Wellstone and Jeffords) who stood against that great lie -- and yet, I was willing to overlook it for the sake of the future.
Like Obama, and Graham, I was against the invasion from before the beginning.
I opposed it, but not because it was immoral (which of course it was), or because it was illegal (which, of course, it was); I opposed it because it was stupid.
It is also unfortunate, and telling, that Sen. Clinton could not follow the courageous example of John Edwards, and repudiate her vote.
But worse yet is the fact that she compounded it this year by voting for Kyl-Lieberman, the seedling of the next great lie, the one that will take us down the slippery slope to military conflict with Iran unless this neo-con folly is snuffed out with finality.
Launching an unnecessary invasion of Iraq was stupid, launching an unnecessary military attack on Iran would be insane. And do not be deceived, that is what Kyl-Lieberman is setting up. (The resignation of Admiral William Fallon, CENTCOM Commander, is a very troubling sign.)
And yet, I was still willing to overlook these disturbing votes for the sake of the future. Why? Because I know the difference between Ruth Bader Ginzburg and Samuel Alito.
No, whenever Sen. Clinton's triangulating and pandering to the right got me down, I just closed my eyes and went through the litany those in her camp for whom I have great respect: e.g., Joe Wilson, Wes Clark, Sidney Blumenthal, Erica Jong, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., etc. "Maybe they know something I don't," I would tell myself.
But then, she passed the point of no return.
Facing almost certain defeat, with Obama ahead in the number of states won, the number of delegates pledged and the number of votes cast, Sen. Clinton drove off the cliff:
Hillary Clinton, for example, told reporters on Monday, “I have a lifetime of experience I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience he will bring to the White House. And Senator Obama has a speech he made in 2002.” On Wednesday, addressing what she described as passing the “commander-in-chief threshold,” Clinton added, “I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy.” Carpetbagger Report, 3-10-08
First, let us consider her assertion that McCain has passed some "commander-in-chief threshold."
John McCain once was fit to be President of the USA. Indeed, I crossed over and voted for him in the California primary in 2000, because I would rather have lost the White House to that McCain, the good McCain, the real McCain, than risk letting George W. Bush anywhere near it.
But certainly, the new John McCain (R-AZ), the wrong John McCain, the "Bomb, Bomb Iran" John McCain, i.e., the Peter Pettigrew of the US body politic, has frittered away all of his gravitas and maverick status now? Surely, in his desperate attempt to embrace the neo-con agenda and ingratiate himself to the Kool-Aid cultists, he has lost every last shard of his integrity?
When President Bush vetoed legislation Saturday that would have prohibited the CIA from using physical force in interrogations, he had the support of Sen. John McCain - the most outspoken of any presidential candidate in his opposition to torture. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean used the occasion to take a swipe at McCain. “It is shameful that George Bush and John McCain lack the courage to ban torture,” Dean said in a statement. “And it is reprehensible that McCain changed his position on torture just to win an election. S.F. Chronicle, 3-10-08
And yet, Clinton implies he is more worthy of the office than Sen. Obama.
The inference is absurd, but it is something worse, it is shameful.
Listen to Col. Wilkerson. Listen to Major Gen. Eaton.
They have a lot more credibility re: national security than either Clinton or McCain.
Robert Dreyfuss quotes Col. Larry Wilkerson (Ret.) — former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell — saying that with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “[n]o dissent, no opinion to the contrary, however reasonable, will be entertained.” Wilkerson added that McCain is “hardheaded,” “arrogant,” “hubristic,” and “too proud for his own good.” Referring to McCain’s foreign policy advisers, Wilkerson said: They “scare me.” “Scare me.”
In an article in Salon, Mark Benjamin writes that some military officials are worried about McCain: “I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor,” said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. “I think it is a little scary. I think this guy’s first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse.” Think Progress, 3-6-08
Second, let us consider another absurd notion, i.e., that she has "a lifetime of experience" that is somehow equivalent to that of McCain. I am sorry, but Sen. Clinton's "lifetime of experience" revolves around her stints as First Lady of Arkansas, her stint as First Lady of the USA, and her one term plus in the US Senate, marred as it is by her vote to authorize the foolish neo-con adventure in Iraq.
As Randi Rhodes of Air America astutely observed in her 3-10-08 broadcast (podcast it): in her own autobiography, Clinton states that the greatest crisis of her life was finding out about Monica Lewinsky, and that when she did find out, first she couldn't breath and then she cried and then she yelled.
How tragic that it has come to this, but she started it.
Third, there is the absurd notion that all Obama has is an anti-war speech he gave in 2002.
On its face, that statement is an insult to the millions of new voters who crossed a gaping generational divide -- as well as a party divide in many cases -- to choose Obama as their champion. (Not a shrewd move, if you want to keep them in the fold for November.)
But perhaps the most important observation I can share with you about this insult to the intelligence of the US electorate is that even if she were correct, even if all Obama had to offer was one speech in 2002, compared to her record of triangulation and pandering, and McCain's devolution from maverick to Moonie, that one speech would make Obama the better choice, the more fit to be "commander-in-chief."
Because he was right, and they were wrong.
And they still have not copped to it.
I do not know if Obama will turn out to be as tame as Kerry was in the general election, I do not know if he will turn out to be as duplicitous as Tony Blair was if he gets into office. But I know that we have no other choice now.
It has to be Obama.
Because Hillary Clinton has lost herself along the way.
Samantha Power (perhaps a relative of mine) touched a nerve.
Remember Marshall McCluhan's formula about TV, "the Medium is the Message"?
Remember the 1960 election?
Listen, when the Kennedy-Nixon debates were televised, the electorate didn't turn to Jack because he was handsome, or because Nixon's make-up ran; they turned to Jack Kennedy because they knew there was something off, something wrong, something mixed up about Nixon.
And that is why voters are turning to Obama now.
Yes, he is articulate, yes, he is cool, yes, he is something different.
But what really clinches it is that there is something off about Sen. Clinton, she is not being herself. She has spent too much time listening to Mark Penn.
It is sad, but we have to move on.
Obama is the Medium, and the Medium is the Message.
And what happens if Obama stumbles or somehow Clinton steals the nomination from him?
I do not know.
All I know is that Ralph Nader is not an option.
To call him Quixotic is an insult to Miguel Cervantes.
His actions at this point are either delusional or as craven as those corporatist Democrats he claims to offer an alternative to.
If he were not either craven or delusional, he would have not been fighting against Al Gore in Fraudida the weekend before the 2000 election, he would have been fighting for the disenfranchised voters of Palm Beach, Duval, Miami-Dade, Broward, etc., in the weeks after that fateful election.
But he was on the wrong side then, and he is on the wrong side now.
Words of Power endorses Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
There must be an electoral uprising. Obama is our best hope for that.
Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be a long-shot. No matter what the polls say.
The US mainstream news media will rally around McCain.
There will be a move to steal it at the end.
Don't expect much more from me about this campaign. At least until after Labor Day.
Meanwhile, I am going to focus on Darfur, global warming and other vital issues.
The US political scene is sickening.
I pray for Obama and his beautiful young family.
I pray for the men and women of the US military.
I pray for this country.
For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.
For an archive of Words of Power posts on 9/11, Terrorism, etc., click here.
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Campaign '08 Update: Open Letter to Sen. Barack Obama -- This is Not a "Food Fight." This is a *Civil* War
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Hard Rain Journal 9-17-07: An Open Letter to Al Gore -- The List, & What Will Happen to the USA & the Planet if We Don't Address It In 2008
Campaign '08 Update 8-12-07: Open Letter to Democratic Primary & Caucus Voters -- Turn This Race Upside Down!
Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.
Sen. Hillary Clinton,, Sen. Barack Obama, John McCain, Randi Rhodes 2008 Presidential Campaign, Richard Power, Words of Power