Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Obama and Edwards (and Clinton)

Well, the Iowa caucuses are upon us, so I figured I would pile a little more atop the heap of internet commentary. In DC we don't vote until April 3 (and apparently we have a caucus, not a primary? Go figure.), so in all likelihood it will have shaken out by then. But still, here are some random thoughts, in no particular order. (Of course, if you'd rather read something actually funny, then try this or this.)

I'm probably voting for Obama, although there's a small chance of Edwards. They're pretty close for me, but for different reasons. Edwards has the policy positions that are probably closest to mine (although truthfully all the Democrats are pretty much on the same page this year). I love his populism and his focus on economic inequality, ending the war, limiting corporate power and establishing true universal health care. Amen, John.

But I love Obama even more and this isn't just Illinois pride talking. He's the real deal: sincere, honest, genuinely interested in the ways government can be an agent for social change. Obama also has the rare gift of being able to preach outside the choir, to independents and conservatives, not by being a triangulating centrist, but by communicating progressive ideals as hopeful common sense. Because the Republican coalition is fraying apart, I think the Democrats have an opportunity to stitch back together some of the pieces of the New Deal coalition that have strayed to the Republicans in recent years (e.g. independents, non-union white working-class voters, evangelicals tired of being played for dupes by the R's, etc.). And I think Obama, more so than Edwards or Clinton, is the person who can do that.

Of course, not everyone loves Obama's "kumbaya shtick" and maybe he's really just the second coming of Adlai Stevenson -- another intelligent, principled, honorable loser from Illinois. Maybe he would crumple in the general election from a relentless swift-boating and constant jeering references on FoxNews to "Barack Hussein Osama." Who knows. Like a lot of progressives this year, I'm placing a larger value on electability than in the past, especially since all the Democrat front-runners are all "good enough" in some sense and the Republicans are falling over themselves to see who can bag on immigrants and threaten other nations most convincingly. If you could prove to me that Hillary Clinton had the best chance of winning the White House, then I'd probably line up behind her with minimal grumbling. But of course, each of the three candidates has a claim on electability.

And truth-be-told, there's at least something to be said for Hillary. (1) She's a grown-up and will go a long way towards repairing the damage Bush has wrought, (2) she may be more centrist than Obama or Edwards, but she'll likely appoint good people to important positions, and (3) on the most important domestic policy issue (health care) she might very well be the best person for the job. I lean away from her because she's too hawkish and too triangulating for my tastes and, plus, its just embarrassing to have the White House be held by two families for 28 straight years. Ugh.

Still, I'll happily vote for Hillary over any of the Republicans candidates. After 8 years of Bush, its hard not to feel delicious delicious schadenfreude at the Republican prospects this year. I've been thinking for a while that the nominee will probably be Romney by default. Huckabee's got a shot, but the Wall Street wing really hates him and, man, does he seem out of his depth or what?

Giuliani's poll numbers are cratering, thank god (he might finish 6th behind Ron Paul in Iowa!); he may be allegedly socially liberal but he talks like he'd lead us into World Wars 3 and 4 within weeks of taking office. Yikes. As for the rest? I used to sorta like McCain, but he's really shifted rightward this year (for all the good it's done him) and Thompson just doesn't seem to have the fire in his belly. It's really hard to imagine any of these guys being able to unite and rally the disparate wings of the Republicans the way Bush did in '00 and '04.

I'm guessing the nominee will be Romney - the John Kerry of the Republican Party. And he'll really have a stiff electoral headwind against him to beat any of the 3 Dems. The last two elections have come down to whoever wins 2 of 3 of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and if 2006 is any indication, both PA and OH are much more solidly Democratic than in 2004.

So that's that - fingers-crossed we'll see how it all goes down tomorrow.

3 comments:

hbomb said...

Illinois moved the date up, so I'm actually pretty excited about the primary (I believe it's on Super Tuesday in Feb). My order is Obama, Edwards, Hillary. I like the ra-ra spirit of Obama. The drum that everyone beats is that he is inexperienced...but we need something new. We need a John Kennedy type character in office if we hope to mend our broken fences and end the vitriol.

Rachel Rev said...

my goodness, you sound so much like another astronomer (hooked up with a minister) I know.

We seem to be in agreement, friend.

Tim said...

hey hbomb and Rachel - yeah, apparently a bunch of other folks like Obama too =)