February 3, 2007
I've been called to task on the blog for talking politics, which apparently I know nothing about (as if anybody did), but let us look at the upcoming Presidential campaign not as politics but as a horse race.
First in the race was John Edwards, a personable Southerner who made a good showing in the 2004 Democratic race, and ended up as the Vice Presidential nominee in the campaign of John Kerry. Edwards is bright, upbeat, and arguably a better candidate than his running mate was. He is less dour, less apt to misspeak, and comes down well in the mainstream of his party's positions. What he lacks in gravitas, he more than makes up in at least the appearance of reasonableness. Whether this is what the country, or even the Democratic Party, will be looking for in a 2008 candidate remains to be seen.
There is also Senator Hillary Clinton, who is a different colored race horse altogether. Her hat has been in this ring for years. You might say it has been sailing this way forever. I have a friend who knew her in grammar school where she was known as "the smartest girl in school," and I recall a PBS documentary, Hillary's Class, which put forth the information that he Wellesley classmates assumed she would be the first woman President. She endured the difficulty of being First Lady to a man she wanted to replace in office, and here she is, presenting herself as not only the woman candidate, but the candidate for all women, meaning those who do not choose to support her will be traitors to their gender. Is there a "women's candidate," and if so, would it necessarily be a woman? I happen to be one who doesn't think so, and I still would like to see something substantive coming from this candidate before I make up my mind. Sure, I'd like to see a woman President, but whoever I vote for must be someone who clearly stands for something I believe in, and who will be brave enough to come out from behind the handlers and the line of advisors so carefully framing her answers to position her as a centrist and earth mother rather than the real person within who must have something to bring to the table on every political topic. Is voting for the war, and then blaming the President for that vote without ever owning or explaining this stand, really a "woman's" position? Not this woman.
Which brings us to the least-known, most hopeful candidate on the scene at this point. One comment about Joe Biden's remark calling Barack Obama "clean," does no one remember Richard Nixon's contemptuous anger at his former boss Dwight D. Eisenhower, "All he ever cared about was, 'Is he clean?'" referring to the vetting process. It was in this sense, of course, that Biden described Obama as clean -- the sense that there was no tinge of wrongdoing anywhere; nothing was going to be dredged up out of his past, as it is with so many politicians, to rule him out of the running. Whether he is up to the job or not remains to be seen, but he has the quality of being viable through his ability to arouse support. If he, in the sense that Mrs. Clinton is the women's candidate, is the black candidate, he will have to do something specific to deserve that constituency. He has traveled comfortably in the white world for most of his life, and although his skin is dark, he doesn't look black in the way that, say, Denzel Washington as the President would. Let us see if he is as brilliant as we have been told. I for one am eager to see how he'll run this race and conduct the business at hand.
If I knew anything about politics I would be able to make some predictions here. If I even knew anything about horse races I probably could. When I have made such predictions in the past I have been wrong as often as I have been right. There is always this for me and my readers to ponder: No candidate I have voted for has won, so I am better off not naming my choice here. So far I'm just observing the pre-game show.