pork chops and arkansas

1/27/08

Not that anyone especially needs to hear Johnny Leftist Pinko O’Radical to chime in on the Democratic race for President (as I’ve done for several years now) but things have become much clearer for me personally over the last few weeks. I was a huge Bill Clinton fan from way back in the spring of 1992, when he came to Chapel Hill and met some of us – ostensibly to talk politics, but he embarked on a brilliant rant about the lameness of the “designated hitter” rule in baseball, and it devolved from there. When he won later that year, we joyfully threw our Halloween pumpkins off the roof of the Purple House on McCauley Street, and I was ushered quickly into Adult Political Awareness™.

My affection for the man wavered not, even strengthening during the horseshit of the Monica year, and into the Y2K so-called “Clinton fatigue” peddled by a bored media whose news cycles demanded fresh meat. Y’see, when you spend what seems like your entire life living with Reagan and Bush I, you really appreciate someone from your side of the tracks. I think people forgot about that, which is why there was very little outrage when Bush II and the Supreme Court subverted the American electorate and disastrously changed the direction of history.

Fast-forward to 2005, when the Hillary presidential run began in quiet earnest. I prayed for her not to run, because of this: I don’t believe she can win, and if she does, it’ll be at the cost of one of the most mean-spirited and profane election battles since latter-day Rome. Even after a victory, her term will be marked by vicious attacks from a revved-up right-wing machine and a few particularly rotten members of the House and Senate. There will be no civility, and no partisanship.

I realize this is patently unfair, and pretty much every member of the media has gone out of their way to smear Hillary for eighteen years. She’s had to endure the kind of vitriol that would make the rest of us want to crawl under a rock and die, especially when she tried to do things like “give us all health insurance”. It has been misogynistic and fucking cruel.

That said, timing is everything, and this is not the time for another divisive figure leading our country, fair or not. I might have been able to overlook Hillary’s oft-pilloried polarizing nature, but she has been stunningly inconstant to her constituents on gay rights, and frankly, her votes on the Iraq war (and the Iran resolution) are the decisions of someone who doesn’t fucking speak for me.

It came to a head in New Hampshire, when, the day before the primary, she played the Al Qaeda card. I couldn’t believe she’d stooped that low. My reminisces of Bill notwithstanding, I was done. I would have loved a woman President – in fact, it’s shameful we haven’t had one already – but this (and her behavior in South Carolina) have sealed it for me.

I routinely kept my mouth shut during other disastrous Democratic nominees out of home-team spirit (Dukakis, Mondale, Kerry) and if Hillary is our nominee, I’ll bloody well pull the lever. No matter her flaws, she’s miles above the execrable, war-infatuated McCain. But just think of the true debate, the inspiration and grandeur, the opportunity we have to suture part of our country back together, if we were to choose someone else.

0 thoughts on “pork chops and arkansas

  1. Anne

    Ian, for the very reason you cite, I have worried about an H. Clinton nomination in this race. Sometimes I force myself to listen in on the “enemy” — highly conservative talk shows and the like — and I’ve concluded we cannot underestimate the amount of hate some Americans (probably many Americans, just not in my liberal college town) have for Hillary. For them, she symbolizes “Liberal” as a the ultimate bogeyman, or -woman.
    Tough race, I gotta say. I mean, tough from my voter’s perspective. Democrats definitely need to bet on a potential winner.

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  2. ken

    Ian & Anne –
    I wonder if all this vitriol directed towards Hilary isn’t, to a certain degree, fear that she just might win? At least from the Republican perspective. I have close family members (in-laws) who if you even invoke the name Hilary, act as if you’ve just metioned the Fuhrer. I think the right hates Hilary for all the stupid, petty, political reasons but also fear her ability to get elected.
    That said, Mrs. Clinton is about fourth on my own personal Democrat depth chart but if she’s the one who gets the nomination, I too will gladly pull the lever for her.
    I’m predicting Obama vs. McCain come November with my senator (Obama) edging out McCain. Boy Huckabee sure would be fun to watch get trounced though.

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  3. Neva

    There is a political cartoon in our paper today showing a drawing of MLK Jr saying “I Have a Dream” and Hillary beside him saying “I have a comprehensive, multi-pronged, poll-tested, pro-active proposal”. I believe she appears too calculated with too much spin and too much baggage.
    Americans are drawn to people who speak truth with real feeling and inspire us to have better hope and dreams for the future. I don’t think we as a nation are very pragmatic. We think, hope and feel big dreams and want someone leading us who inspires that. I have no doubt that Hillary is smart and I think she would be a great leader – of committees and in back rooms where policy is made but I don’t think she’s ideal for the main leader.
    In school, remember how the most popular kid always beat the smartest kid for class president. I’m usually a supporter of the smartest kid but I know that in this country ideally you want smart AND popular and I think we finally have that this time in Obama.
    Even my Republican brother likes and appreciates Obama and respects his integrity. My brother hates Hillary for reasons that make no sense but he is very much not alone in this. I will be very disappointed if Hillary gets the nomination and then loses the election that I believe Obama has a better chance to win.

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  4. LFMD

    I personally admire Hillary — and I do not know how she has been able to suffer such a fool as her husband for all of these years. I am not a Bill fan — for reasons I won’t get into. And it is a damn shame that he is doing so much damage to her campaign. Why can’t he just SHUT UP??
    I am all for Obama, and I am starting to think that he just might win. It is truly amazing to me to see a primary wherein the white guy is an afterthought. The times, they are a-changin!

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  5. jason savage

    Totally agree that a Hillary nomination will splinter this country deeper than it is already. Plus, enough with the Bush-Clinton revolving door. Time for someone new and invigorating, and who also voted *against* the horribly misguided Iraq war.

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  6. kevin from NC

    It is time for the ‘royalty’ of Clinton and Bush to move on. We cannot afford to be stuck in the pattern of the last 5 terms.
    I would vote for Hillary in the general election, but the tears part in NH and the talk about how she had speant the last few days (after Iowa) figuring out what was important to her and the voters listened crap was too much for me.
    SHe can figure herself out after a bad weekend?
    We must rally behind Obama if we want the country to move forward and we need to say good bye to the iconic images in the rear view mirror. I hate it for Hillary, but timing is everything and now is not her time.

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  7. Anne

    PS Did you all read Caroline Kennedy’s op-ed in yesterday’s NYT? The entire Kennedy clan seems to be coming out on Obama’s side this week, but I thought this was a particularly heartfelt pitch from the whip-smart, classy Caroline:
    “I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.”
    Hmmm, Caroline Kennedy for vice president?! ;-)

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  8. Zel M.

    I haven’t commented on here in a long time, but I was moved by this piece.
    I would surely hate to be a Dem having to make a choice in this year’s presidential race. Basically you have the exact same thing presented in three different packages. All are lawyers, senators with precious little executive experience whose entire careers culminated in election to the Senate with the ultimate goal of making a presidential bid. At least the Repubs have a variety to choose from: lawyers, soldiers, governors, mayors, senators, etc.
    Edwards’ aims for seeking election to the Senate were made clear almost immediately as were Clinton’s. But at least both have served full, six-year terms in the Senate. Obama served all of 25 months before announcing his bid, and he likely wouldn’t have been elected to the Senate at all if Jack Ryan could have kept it in his pants.
    So the Dems’ choices are a former first lady who incites such vitriol that she turns off her own party; an ambulance-chaser who made millions off personal injury cases and who once “channeled” the spirit of dead girl in a courtroom; and a guy who has practically NO experience in national politics and who, at the time of the last presidential election, was in the state house in Springfield passing “Official State Apple Pie Recipe” resolutions. John Kerry’s wealth and breadth of experience is more than these three put together, and we see how that turned out.
    As for Hillary, she is NOT Bill, which can be a blessing but primarily a curse. She cannot spin and lie like he did and have people stand around and marvel at the spinning and lying. To many, she represents almost all of the Clinton persidency’s baggage and almost none of its benefits. And why is criticism leveled at her misogyny? Just curious. I don’t think people in the 21st century are that opposed to a woman president – they’re just opposed to THAT woman.
    Is it any wonder that, faced with a choice between the lightweight, failed VP candidate and the cold, calculating, poll-driven biotch, that Dems are flocking to the guy who looks great and and sound great and has no record whatsoever on which to run?

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  9. Rebecca

    Zel, do you think people hate Hillary because she’s a liberal woman? I think Nancy Pelosi gets a lot of the same criticism. Would people be more open to a conservative woman? Because when people say they would vote for a woman, just not THAT woman I tend to think they’re full of shit.

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  10. hilaryhoward

    I feel very strongly that it is Hillary Clinton’s calling to be president of this country. She has worked for this her entire life. She is brilliant; she is a doer. She is passionate and strong. And unfortunately, she is divisive and brings with her a ton of baggage. But I can’t think about that; because our country needs a fixer-upper–someone who can actually work really hard and GET THINGS DONE; someone who KNOWS THE SYSTEM and is willing to be unpopular–to get those things done. Someone who will come in with a plan and a list of things to do on her first day of office. A realist. I’ve had the pleasure to meet both Hillary and Barack over the past few months. Barack left me cold. He is an idea. There is a tremendous, exciting wave of energy behind him, but he, the person, seems hollow, and yes, inexperienced, to me. And all this charisma and passion people that he has; I just haven’t seen it. I think it’s in there somewhere, but I don’t think he knows how to harness it yet. Perhaps trusting that it’s in there is enough; but I’d like to see a little bit of it, if that’s the reason I’m voting for him. That said, if he wins the primary, I will be thrilled to back him; I will ride the wave like everyone else. Maybe the wave, the energy that’s carrying him, is more important than the actual man. It’s a confusing time. But my heart and my brain say Hillary Clinton is the best person for this country right now. Lord knows she can handle the crap that will be thrown at her with aplomb. Not sure if Barack will be as steely.

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  11. Zel M.

    Rebecca,
    I see what you are saying, but I personally don’t think it’s that she’s a liberal woman. It is hard to describe the nuances of the level of dislike for her, even among Dems. Like I said, at least in my mind, she represents much of the bullshit of the Clinton presidency and little of the benefits. As the ad folks and pollsters say, she has a lot of negatives – whether it was questionable land deals, billing records, Vince Foster, Travelgate, Hillarycare, “co-president”, the Lewinsky ordeal – whatever, rightly or wrongly, Hillary has established her own wagon train of garbage that it is hard for her to get past.
    I’ll put it to you this way: Has the Obama-mania demonstrated that America (or at least one party) is willing to seriously give an African-American a legitimate shot at being elected president of the United States? Now, substitute Obama for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom have run for president in some form or fashion. Is it that America would not vote for a black person, or they would not vote for THAT black person?

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  12. Lara

    C’mon, Mrs. Clinton, you can’t just change your last name on the posting and think none of us will figure out it’s really you.
    But all kidding aside, while I have never met Hillary, I’ve been a big fan of Barack since he spoke at my law school on MLK day years ago (even before his blessedly forgotten and disastrous run for Congress), and ended up volunteering on his senate campaign. Whether you think he has enough experience or not, I’m extremely surprised to hear he “left you cold.” I think he’s about as real as it gets in national politics, and I think he has a unique power to move and inspire people. I had never even so much as donated money to a candidate before and there I was in the middle of February in Chicago, knocking on doors.
    Quite frankly, I think Barack has the intelligence, experience and integrity to get the job done right, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little inspiration as well. And Hillary’s certainly never done that for me.

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  13. hilary

    hi lara,
    i was excited about obama, and was planning on voting for him, until i met him; heard him speak at my office. i was heartbroken; crestfallen, for days afterwards. he just didn’t do it for me; i didn’t feel like he believed in what he was saying…nor did i feel like he could even fake it. maybe he was having a bad day, i don’t know. but then i started to watch him–as well as hillary and edwards–very carefully in the televised debates that followed, and i slowly developed a strong respect for hillary’s intelligence and leadership potential that edwards and obama just couldn’t touch. i STILL want very badly to “believe” and “be inspired” by obama. i was a little bit after he won iowa and i saw his beautiful family walk up onstage…but i can’t vote just because his family, and the notion of them being in the white house, took my breath away. i’m not yet convinced. of course the best–and absolutely, obviously stellar–thing to his credit is that he so vehemently spoke out against invading iraq. word. just found and read his speech on this last week and he was dead on. it’s how we all felt–certainly how i felt. but NOW it’s about getting out of this mess…not to mention the economy, etc.

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  14. grumphreys

    Re: Edwards is “an ambulance-chaser who made millions off personal injury cases” – That’s just the same ol’ hard right wing talk show spin from the last election.
    A spin closer to reality would be that in the courtroom, Edwards took on big corporations with deep, deep pockets and won big again and again. He also beat the hard right Jesse Helms political machine to become Senator. He’s the only major candidate not taking PAC money, and he’s proposing that we take the power back from multi-national corporations and put it into the hands of the people.
    Don’t think the hard right machine is not going to come out with their smear guns ablazin’ if Obama wins the nomination. They’re just playing wait-and-see right now. It’s alot easier for a candidate to talk about healing and bi-partisanship when the right wing political mud machine hasn’t turned its sights on you yet. The smear approach has been winning elections, after all. Hell, they did it to McCain in SC in 2000!
    The Repubs will probably lose this election b/c it will most likely be a final referendum on the Bush years. I just think that of the Dem candidates, Edwards is primed to get the most done while in office.

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  15. josie

    I waver on how I feel about this topic. I like Hillary and believe she deserves to be president and will do a good job. But I, too, believe she brings out the worst in the “other side,” and that they will make a Hillary presidency impossible on principle.
    Speaking of principle – how does this timeline look:
    Bush I
    Clinton
    Clinton
    Bush II
    Bush II
    CLINTON ?
    That just seems wrong.
    Someone in Obama’s campaign will put this dynastic image out there, through a proxy since it’s only an argument against Hillary and not an argument for Obama at all.

    Reply

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